If You Like Your Plan, You Can Blame Someone Else

On November 14th, the President of the United States went on national television and berated insurance companies for enforcing Obamacare as written. It has become politically inconvenient for Democrats who have to contend with reelection next year, that millions of Americans have had their insurance policies banned by Obamacare, despite the President’s oft repeated promise to the contrary.

Once again elevating politics over economic and logistical reality, King Obama decreed that insurance companies can suddenly UN-cancel the banned plans (even though Obamacare hasn’t been legislatively amended) and re-sell them. How dictatorial! But, there’s a catch. Insurers will only be allowed do this through 2015 – and don’t even know how it can be achieved. What company in their right mind would suddenly expend resources to sell in a market they’ve explicitly been told is illegal? Oh, right. None. Which is why Obama made the statement he did.

The President went into his press conference fully aware that his purpose was to deflect blame and solve approximately zero problems. After all, the banning of low-cost catastrophic plans to induce stealth redistribution is the point Obamacare. To its advocates, replacing actual insurance that calculates for risk with expensive plans that contain unnecessary mandates is a feature, not a bug. Anyone pretending otherwise either doesn’t understand how Obamacare is supposed to work (and therefore shouldn’t have advocated for it), or is being intentionally dishonest in their sudden outrage.

Ultimately, the sad display we saw from the President on Thursday constitutes a desperate attempt to shift responsibility for the unmitigated disaster that is Obamacare away from politicians who knowingly lied to defend him as they face the wrath of their constituents. Conveniently, the new 2015 deadline for banning the insurance plans millions liked and depended on should be just enough time to give red and swing state Democratic Senators like Pryor (AR), Landrieu (LA), Hagan (NC), and Begich (AK) political cover – not to mention all of their colleagues in the House.

Keep in mind through all of this though, that the insurance companies certainly aren’t victims in this schadenfreude. They have been willing participants in a corporatist redistribution scheme that they stood to profit from through coercive plunder enacted by government fiat. What’s that saying about laying down with dogs and getting fleas? Congratulations, insurance companies. You’re getting the PR treatment you should have expected, and frankly, deserve.

As Allahpundit stated in a piece at Hot Air entitled, “Scapegoated insurers fire back at Obama over “administrative fix”: You’re not pinning this ObamaCare mess on us“:

“Don’t cry for these people, needless to say. They helped make ObamaCare happen. They were only too happy to see healthy young adults forced into buying their product by a constitutionally dubious mandate and to gouge healthy middle-class people with the new, more expensive plans required by the exchanges. They wouldn’t have partnered with the White House if this wasn’t a payday for them. But now they’re screwed twice over: Not only are Democrats trying to make them the fall guy for the cancellations, they’re looking at their payday melting down into red ink if they take Obama’s “advice” and re-create the old risk pool. Oh well. No honor among thieves.”

Perhaps the scapegoating of insurance companies by the White House will teach private industry that competing honestly in a free market is superior to the lecherous relationship between big government and big corporations in which the American people are victims. But I suppose that’s too optimistic an outlook given the circumstances. After all, I’m not convinced that Republicans even have a coherent response to all of this, and are likely to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, as they tend to.

As Erick Erickson accurately described, the Upton plan to let people keep their insurance is a trap that plays right into the hands of Democrats. I was for attempts to delay Obamacare – but the playing field has changed, and Republicans have to make Democrats own the disaster now that the exchanges have launched. Any GOP attempts to alter Obamacare at this juncture are likely to speed up the inevitable adverse selection, and give Democrats the political ammo they need to blame evil Republicans, defenders of the heartless insurance companies whose only motivation is to profit off the sick. Can’t you see the messaging campaign already?

There is a strong populist, anti-cronyism message that can be promoted extremely effectively in the wake of Obama’s ridiculously embarrassing declaration this week. I expect true free market advocates within the GOP to push that message well. But I do not trust House Republican leadership, with their history of valuing corporatism over competition. Congressman Fred Upton may have good intentions with his attempt to allow people to keep the plans that Obamacare banned.  But I agree with Erickson that it will go down as follows:

First, understand that Upton is messaging legislation. It allows everyone in Congress to say they support people being able to keep their health care plans, but it lacks measures to force insurance companies to let people keep their plans. It is a paper tiger.

But Republicans are starting to pick up worried Democrat votes for the Upton legislation who feel they must stand for something with 2014 on the horizon.

So Upton will pass. It will be “bipartisan.”

Democrats, meanwhile, need to get Mary Landrieu and a host of other red state Democrats re-elected. The President’s law be damned, they want to save their Senate majority. Remember,Obamacare already has embedded in the law provisions bailing out insurance companies and the Democrats and Republicans have shown themselves perfectly comfortable bailing out businesses deemed “too big to fail” in the past. Insurance companies participating in the exchanges will be deemed “too big to fail” I guarantee. So the Democrats can hurt insurance companies and undermine their own exchanges, but the government will bail out the insurance companies affected under the terms of Obamacare as already written.

The House would send the Senate the Upton measure. The Senate Democrats will respond, “But Upton has not teeth. Landrieu has teeth.” The Senate will substitute Landrieu’s legislation for Upton’s, send it back to the House, and watch the GOP try to explain why they say they’re for letting people keep their health insurance plans, but will not actually force insurance companies to let people keep those plans.

Yet again, the GOP will be cast as the tool of insurance companies and Mary Landrieu as the savior of plans people already have. Republicans will cave. They’ll console themselves thinking Landrieu’s bill will undermine Obamacare and cause it to collapse.

Upton’s legislation by itself isn’t worth worrying about. But Upton passed with Landrieu’s bill still on the table gives the Democrats the offense back. Republicans will absolutely flub the response and, embarrassed, vote for Landrieu. If you don’t believe me, Fred Upton is open to Landrieu’s plan himself.

Obama has literally handed Republicans a golden opportunity on a silver platter. Now is the time to promote serious free market alternatives to Obamacare, of which there are many. Whether you consider the Heritage plan, the Republican Study Committee’s American Health Care Reform Act, Congressman Price’s Empowering Patients First Act , or a host of others, there are options, and we can build a narrative surrounding real health care solutions as the midterm elections approach. Don’t screw this up in an attempt to appease corporatist elements, GOP. The American people are watching, and quite rightfully, judging harshly.


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