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Richard Epstein chronicles the problems with the Affordable Care Act.
The ACA’s new marketplaces are said to allow ordinary individuals to shop for their own policies. This modest goal sounds easy, but it is not. As the current rules demand, all enrollment must be possible online, in person, by phone, fax, and mail. In addition to a website, the exchanges must provide “culturally and linguistically appropriate assistance,” along with a navigator program to promote public awareness. They must offer seamless linkage with other public initiatives, and accurate information on premium tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies, all under a program whose key provisions are not yet fully worked out. Already, HHS has distributed over $3.6 billion to states for implementation, with more to come.
Yet for all of these Herculean efforts, at present, only 18 states have opted to create their own exchanges, and seven are planning for a partnership exchange in cooperation with the federal government. A whopping 26 states have defaulted on their option, leaving the feds to pick up the pieces. Similarly, only 29 states have opted into the ACA’s Medicaid extension program, even though it promises substantial federal support early on. Twenty states have already opted out of the program and two are weighing their options.
At this point, the total administrative burden on the federal government has massively increased. Yet neither the federal government nor the states have the human or financial resources to discharge these tasks in a timely fashion, making it highly unlikely that these exchanges will be up and running by January 1, 2014. To achieve that goal, the various private participants on the exchanges must design and post their policies by October 1, 2013.
Unfortunately, these private insurers cannot do their part unless they have enough information to accurately price the “essential minimum conditions” required under the ACA. At present, it is estimated that only around 2 percent of the current plans meet the ACA’s outsized legislative ambitions. Nor can the federal government set up, all at once, the federal exchanges that are needed to make this system work. Similarly, the tepid reception to the Medicaid extension program only stretches scarce government resources. With each passing day, it becomes clearer that the entire process is backing up.
Then there is the matter of the initial 21-page enrollment form that the Department of Health and Human Services first released to the public. The President’s speech crowed that HHS has compressed that form to 3 pages, making it shorter, analogous to private enrollment forms. Yet like everything else about the ACA, his point is a public relationships ruse that has already backfired. As Grace-Marie Turner has pointed out in the Wall Street Journal, much of the reduction in form length comes from shrinking the font, or from relegating key parts of the basic application to separate forms. Needless to say, HHS has just announced a $150 million grant for its navigation program to help people work their way through the now abbreviated form.
Gabriel Schoenfeld, who was in these pages often before he left Commentary and signed on to the Romney campaign, has written a book about how the loss came about.
Even before my new book, A Bad Day on the Romney Campaign: An Insider’s Account, went on sale and could be read, it was suggested to me by former colleagues in a series of e-mails, calls, and statements in the press that I would regret airing “dirty laundry” in public.
One top aide warned that I would become “permanently radioactive” and would never work in this town again. Others called me disreputable and disloyal — and those are among the kinder words directed my way. And then the smearing began, with Romney’s deputy campaign manager going so far as to state to Time that I was lying about being a “senior adviser” to the campaign, an attempt to discredit me readily disproven by the campaign’s own official documents.
Is this fierce reaction warranted? Am I wrong to speak up? Both questions raise interesting issues.
The ferocity, I believe, comes from fear. Throughout the campaign, the Romney organization was relatively successful in keeping its secrets to itself. Although the problems of the campaign were visible to the world, a code of silence prevailed, and continues to prevail, in its ranks. It exists for reasons of self-protection, to evade responsibility for a loss that was avoidable. Those warning me off publishing have not even read my book, but their anxiety about what I might say is a measure of how much they have to hide.
My book exposes incompetence, yes. Too often, incompetence is blithely excused in politics. “That’s how campaigns always are,” the experts assure us. For one, if the Republican party hopes to win, that lackadaisical attitude needs to change. Exposing incompetence is a start. …
Michael Barone says Benghazi and the IRS thuggery are just politics by other means.
What do the Benghazi cover-up and the IRS scandal have in common? They were both about winning elections, under false pretenses.
Winning elections, after all, is something Barack Obama is good at. He obviously loves campaigning and delivering grand orations to enormous adoring crowds.
He loves it so much that he flew off to Las Vegas to campaign the day after the first murder of a U.S. ambassador in 33 years.
What actually happened in Benghazi was out of sync with the Obama campaign line. Osama bin Laden was dead. Al Qaeda was on the run. The global war on terror — well, don’t call it that anymore.
A deliberate effort to mislead the voters was launched. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, White House press secretary Jay Carney and the president himself talked about a spontaneous protest of an anti-Muslim video — even though no evidence of that came from Benghazi.
The White House and the State Department altered the CIA’s talking points — not just in one minor particular, as Carney claimed, but through 12 separate versions. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, armed with the talking points, spoke sternly about a spontaneous protest and an anti-Muslim video on five Sunday interview shows.
The campaign trail press grilled Mitt Romney for his (impolitic) statement immediately after the attacks. Obama went on talk shows and peddled his line about an anti-Muslim video.
Debate moderator Candy Crowley came to Obama’s defense when he claimed that he had immediately stated that Benghazi was a terrorist attack — a claim Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler awarded four Pinocchios. …
Christian Science Monitor Blog says Bob Woodward thinks we should not ignore Benghazi.
The famous Washington Post reporter and former antagonist of President Richard Nixon said the US government’s editing of talking points used by public officials in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi, Libya, is “a very serious issue.”
“I would not dismiss Benghazi,” Mr. Woodward said.
Woodward’s own main talking point was that he believed there are similarities between the process used to produce the Benghazi talking points and Nixon’s release of edited transcripts of the White House tapes.
Citing the lengthy e-mail chain detailing the production of the talking points, released by the Obama administration earlier this week, the Watergate press hero said that in the wake of the Libyan tragedy “everyone in the government is saying, ‘Oh, let’s not tell the public that terrorists were involved, people connected to Al Qaeda. Let’s not tell the public that there were warnings.’ ”
Forty years ago, Nixon went line by line through his tape transcripts and made his own edits.
“He personally went through them and said, ‘Let’s not tell this, let’s not show this,’ ” said Woodward on “Morning Joe.”
Nixon, of course, was trying to deflate the increasing public and congressional pressure for him to release the tapes themselves. He wasn’t successful. The tapes revealed the extent of his involvement with the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover up.
As to Benghazi, Woodward concluded that the edits “show the hydraulic pressure that was in the system not to tell the truth.”
WaPo reporters do a good job exposing Eric Holder’s lies that purported to explain and excuse the AP wiretaps.
For five days, reporters at the Associated Press had been sitting on a big scoop about a foiled al-Qaeda plot at the request of CIA officials. Then, in a hastily scheduled Monday morning meeting, the journalists were asked by agency officials to hold off on publishing the story for just one more day.
The CIA officials, who had initially cited national security concerns in an attempt to delay publication, no longer had those worries, according to individuals familiar with the exchange. Instead, the Obama administration was planning to announce the successful counterterrorism operation that Tuesday.
AP balked and proceeded to publish that Monday afternoon. Its May 2012 report is now at the center of a controversial and broad seizure of phone records of AP reporters’ home, office and cellphone lines. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the unauthorized disclosure about an intelligence operation to stop al-Qaeda from detonating explosives aboard a U.S. airliner was among the most serious leaks he could remember, and justified secretly obtaining records from a handful of reporters and editors over a span of two months.
Now, some members of Congress and media advocates are questioning why the administration viewed the leak that led to the May 7 AP story as so grave.
The president’s top counterterrorism adviser at the time, John O. Brennan, had appeared on “Good Morning America” the following day to trumpet the successful operation. He said that because of the work of U.S. intelligence, the plot did not pose an active threat to the American public.
Holder said this week that the unauthorized disclosure “put the American people at risk.” …
Now for the important stuff. In a working class neighborhood south west of downtown Milwaukee is the Holler House Bar. Not your average bar, but one with its own entry in Wikipedia. Two notable things about the tavern are the bowling alleys (first in the nation, they say) and the patron’s bras shed and signed so they can be posted for posterity. Then government idiots got involved and told the owner, Marcy Skowronski to remove the “fire hazard” or face fines up to “$10,000 per day.” Typical government creeps. We can thank Jim Stingl of the Journal-Sentinel for the story with the happy ending. Sounds like the bar has lots of support.
Stripped of the bras that decorated the tavern’s ceiling for nearly half a century, the Holler House looked mighty naked.
But on Thursday, justice was restored to the universe. A ridiculous city order to ban the bras as a fire hazard was rescinded.
“Oh my goodness, we won,” cried Marcy Skowronski, the always colorful 87-year-old owner of the south side bar. “We’re going to have a party to throw the bras back up.”
I’ll let Skowronski explain what happened when a city inspector stopped in recently.
“We’ve had bras hanging here for 45 years. It’s been a charm of the place. So here comes this gal, and she’s walking in here like Lady Astor’s pet horse, you know, and she says she wants those bras down because they’re a fire hazard. Now how can a bra be a fire hazard unless someone is wearing it? Honest to God.” …
… “We’ve got a bunch of crazy people who come in here,” Skowronski said.
But no crazier than the city’s short-lived ban on the frilly things they leave behind.