ObamaCare — Would You Like Fries With That Exemption?

A silver lining of the Democrat hegemony in Washington has been the massive resurgence of conservative thinking and action among the general public. It certainly would have been nice two or four years sooner, but better late than never.

Given that Republicans can’t possibly win a veto-proof majority in the Senate, the job of cleaning up government will take more than one election cycle. One of the biggest messes is ObamaCare. It remains to be seen whether the GOP has the fortitude to follow through on their pledge to “repeal and replace,” but the resounding defeats this primary season of several incumbent RINOs certainly serve as a motivation.

Democrats up for re-election in three weeks are running from the issue like the plague, and little wonder. This week, it was revealed that 30 companies and organizations received exemptions from the federal requirement to increase the minimum annual benefits for low-cost health plans. Unless they were granted exemptions, McDonald’s and other companies that offer so-called mini-med plans threatened to drop their health plans altogether — leaving employees on the government dole. The biggest waiver was granted to the United Federation of Teachers Welfare Fund, which is a union in New York City that provides health coverage for city teachers.

According to USA Today, “Without waivers, [these] companies would have had to provide a minimum of $750,000 in [medical insurance] coverage next year, increasing to $1.25 million in 2012, $2 million in 2013 and unlimited in 2014.” Of course, all this was predicted by those of us who understand basic free-market economics.

Meanwhile, in keeping with the “radical” notion that the federal government cannot force people to purchase things, voters in three states will decide this fall whether to tell the federal government to stay out of their health care decisions. If passed, the initiatives in Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma will allow those states to opt out of ObamaCare. A similar initiative already passed in Missouri with an impressive 71 percent of the vote.

Naysayers, such as Oklahoma’s Democrat Gov. Brad Henry, call the initiative fruitless, saying that even if it “passes by 100 percent,” the feds could overturn it because federal law trumps state law. In effect, the governor is saying that ObamaCare is inevitable, so we shouldn’t even bother to fight. But this isn’t true. According to what Jon Caldara of Colorado’s Independence Institute calls that “pesky 10th Amendment,” there are several instances in which the federal government is required to yield to the will of the sovereign states. The attorneys general of 20 other states are suing on that principle.

Other opponents of the initiative argue that this collective lawsuit makes the ballots redundant and not worth the costly legal battle that’s sure to follow. However, Caldara and others fighting for health care choice point out that even if this multi-state lawsuit is successful, the federal government could then pressure states to adopt programs similar to the one in Massachusetts. The problems with that system, and its parallels with ObamaCare, are well documented.

The road to repeal hit another major roadblock Thursday when U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh, a Clinton appointee, rejected the argument that the individual mandate to buy health insurance is unconstitutional. According to Steeh, the interstate commerce clause really does cover everything.

Quote of the Week

“[ObamaCare’s] march to the sea is only beginning and the trail of destruction will grow. The last six months have seen 2011 premium increases as high as 9% due to ObamaCare; multibillion-dollar corporate writedowns by Verizon, AT&T, Caterpillar and others; disruption in the insurance markets leading to the erasure of child-only policies and other types of specialty coverage as shown in the McDonald’s imbroglio; the Administration beginning to impose price controls on premiums; insurers withdrawing private options from Medicare Advantage; and Democratic protection of a 1099 tax reporting mandate that will slam small businesses. Republicans should be repeating all of these tangible harms in a litany, while predicting the damage to come.” —The Wall Street Journal


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