Last week, the White House took to Twitter for purposes of publicizing its latest Obamacare enrollment blarney. Far more informative than the tweet’s fictitious sign-up numbers was the schmaltzy video to which it was linked. Staged in the Oval Office, this one-act farce features a simpering HHS Secretary briefing our Thespian in Chief, who then delivers the following soliloquy: “The Affordable Care Act is working. It’s working better than we anticipated. It’s certainly working a lot better than many of the critics talked about early on.” In Obama’s 27-word script, “working” appears three times. The President doth protest too much, methinks.
But don’t take my word for it. Ask the folks who learned last Friday that Obama’s bureaucrats sent them erroneous tax information relating to PPACA. The Associated Press reports, “Officials said the government sent the wrong tax information to about 800,000 HealthCare.gov customers, and they’re asking those affected to delay filing their 2014 returns.” And, as with most government blunders, the price will be paid by those who can least afford it. Robert Pear points out in the New York Times, “[T]housands of lower-income Americans who qualified for subsidized insurance had hoped for tax refunds and now must wait for weeks to file their taxes.”
If the plight of these latest Obamacare victims fails to convince you that the President’s hammy Twitter performance is an exercise in Orwellian propaganda, perhaps you should have a conversation with one of the thousands who were unable to enroll in an insurance plan because Healthcare.gov is still infested with bugs: “In the final day leading up to Obamacare’s sign-up deadline, the website was once again hit with technical glitches that prevented people from signing up for health insurance.” Healthcare.gov was completely off line for five hours and plagued by intermittent software failures of various types for the remainder of the day.
Obama and his minions will, of course, rewrite PPACA’s tax and enrollment provisions in yet another attempt to contain the political damage wrought by the disastrous “reform” law. This is nothing new. It will merely be the latest of nearly 50 emergency revisions to which Obamacare has been subjected since it was signed into law. Prior to February’s pratfalls, according to a tally kept by the Galen Institute, “47 significant changes already have been made to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: at least 28 that President Obama has made unilaterally, 17 that Congress has passed and the president has signed, and 2 by the Supreme Court.”
In fact, emergency repairs to Obamacare go all the way back to April of 2010, just a month after it was signed into law. But their number and frequency picked up significantly when the 2012 presidential election appeared on the horizon. This is when the Obama administration began making unilateral and legally dubious changes designed to ameliorate the pain PPACA was about to inflict on crucial voter blocs. To avoid angering seniors, for example, HHS issued “a reprieve from some of the most controversial cuts in President Obama’s health care law.” This “reprieve” deferred Obamacare’s cuts to the popular Medicare Advantage program.
It was during this period that the IRS revised its original interpretation of PPACA’s subsidy language, which provided for tax credits only through exchanges established by states. In May of 2012, after the White House realized that the structural incentives meant to induce all the states to create Obamacare “marketplaces” had failed to work, the IRS announced that subsidies would also be available through federally created exchanges. This “fix” removed an election year problem for the President, but it also led to King v. Burwell, the potentially lethal statutory challenge pursuant to which the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next week.
Obama administration lawyers are, of course, defending the illegal IRS edict. But some provisions of Obamacare were so obviously unworkable that even the White House didn’t fight repeal. One of these was the CLASS Act. This boondoggle was put to rest in January of 2013 because Obamacare’s authors didn’t bother to fund it. Another unworkable PPACA provision that was repealed without a fight was the notorious “1099 mandate.” This would have forced businesses to track and report to the IRS all purchases over $600. It was repealed in a 2011 bill signed by a relieved President who didn’t want to defend it in his reelection campaign.
There are, of course, countless unworkable Obamacare provisions that have yet to be repealed due to Obama administration intransigence. One of the most obvious of these is the employer mandate, which is universally reviled by policy experts of all political persuasions. As I wrote in this space last year, even the left-leaning Urban Institute has called for its repeal in a report titled, “Why Not Just Eliminate the Employer Mandate?” Likewise, Obamacare-friendly policy wonks such as Professor Timothy Jost admit that the mandate’s 50-employee threshold has constrained job growth and forced some employers to “cut the hours of part-time employees.”
The complete list of such counterproductive provisions is far too lengthy to cover in a single column, but there are enough to guarantee that PPACA will never work. Yet, even as the news was breaking about the law’s latest failures, HHS Secretary Burwell published a column in USA Today in which she offers this all too predictable assurance: “The Affordable Care Act is working.” The public isn’t buying it. A recent AP survey shows that only 26 percent of adults support Obamacare. Why so few? Because, no matter how often the President, his bureaucrats, or the media tell us otherwise, it’s blindingly obvious that Obamacare just isn’t working.