The conventional Beltway wisdom about Obamacare’s future is that it will be very difficult to repeal, even if the 2014 midterms end with the GOP still in control of the House and holding a majority in the Senate. This mindset is epitomized by David Frum, who recently concluded a blog post with the following admonition: “Repeal is a fantasy. Reform is the task ahead.” Like a lot of establishment journalists, Frum has a short memory. The repeal of the “Affordable Care Act” is by no means without precedent in recent congressional history. In fact, one need look no farther back than 1989 to find a corollary.
The Right Prescription
It is wrong, of course, to take pleasure in the misfortune of others. Still, I must confess that I have derived no small amount of schadenfreude from news stories about Obamacare advocates who have been adversely affected by the not-so-Affordable Care Act. It would take a stronger man than yours truly to suppress a smile as the law’s media pimps pule about their canceled health plans, when smug urban progressives get mugged by the reality of “reform,” and lifelong Democrats publicly denounce President Obama as a brazen liar while declaring their intention to become foot soldiers for the Republican Party.
John Schnatter, founder and CEO of Papa John’s Pizza, criticized Obamacare twelve months too early.
It was a year ago today when the Naples Daily News reported Schnatter responding to a question about whether Obamacare would cause Papa John’s franchise owners to reduce their employees’ work hours, “That’s probably what’s going to happen. It’s common sense. That’s what I call lose-lose.”
Under Obamacare’s employer mandate companies with 50 or more full-time employees—“full time” defined as 30 hours a week or more—must provide their workers with health insurance or pay a hefty fine. Schnatter was pointing out that his franchise owners would have an incentive to reduce many employees to 29 hours or less so as to limit the number of full-time employees to less than 50.
Last Friday, capping off a week filled with disturbing revelations of bureaucratic incompetence and presidential mendacity concerning Obamacare, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the “reform” law’s notorious contraception mandate. On behalf of the majority, Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote that the mandate would force the plaintiffs in Gilardi v. HHS to choose between bankruptcy and violating their religious beliefs: “They can either abide by the sacred tenets of their faith, pay a penalty of over $14 million and cripple the companies they have spent a lifetime building, or they become complicit in a grave moral wrong.”
In Dante’s Inferno, the Eighth Circle of Hell is reserved for people who deliberately commit fraud. It isn’t surprising, then, that the poet populated this province of Perdition with politicians and their advisors. Interestingly, the latter were rendered especially uncomfortable. Whereas the politicians merely bathed in boiling pitch, their corrupt counselors were condemned to spend eternity in the actual flames. If the expression on her face was any guide, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius felt that she had entered the Eighth Circle of Obamacare as she endured the questions of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday.