The Imperial Presidency
By John D. Turner
23 Nov 2013

First he told us that “if you like your [health care] plan, you can keep it.” In fact, he said it over and over again. And America believed him.

Then 1 October 2013 rolled around, and despite Republican’s best efforts to avoid it since the law was passed (including shutting down the entire government in an attempt to defund it), the Affordable Health Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” written without Republican input and passed without a single Republican vote, became law. And soon thereafter, as millions of Americans began receiving notification from their insurance companies that the plans they had previously were being canceled, it became apparent that reality was other than what the President had promised. So did he apologize to the American people for misleading them? Nope!

Instead, he told us that it wasn’t a problem; those that were losing their insurance were losing it because those plans were “substandard.” His advice for those who lost “the insurance they liked” was to “just shop around on the new marketplace.” You know, the one you couldn’t even access yet. In the president’s words,

“If you had one of these substandard plans before the Affordable Care Act became law, and you really liked that plan, you are able to keep it. That’s what I said when I was running for office. But ever since the law was passed, if insurers decided to cancel or downgrade these substandard plans, what we said, under the law is you have got to replace them with quality, comprehensive coverage. Because that too, was a central premise of the Affordable Care Act from the beginning.”

The fault, the President told us, lay totally with the greedy insurance companies. They are the ones that canceled your plan, not Obamacare. In fact, he called some providers “bad apple insurers” who employed unethical practices to profit off their customers without providing “adequate” benefits.

So what are “adequate” benefits? Those benefits that bureaucrats in Washington D.C. have decided you “need,” and which must be included in healthcare packages in the future. The health care providers didn’t drop your policy because they were greedy; they dropped it because it no longer met the criteria for minimal coverage under the Obamacare legislation and subsequent regulations.

These coverage’s include such things as mental health coverage, hospitalization, and maternity care. And of course “free” birth control. (Except that it really isn’t “free”. Oh, the contraceptives may be free, but the doctor visit and associated other services are not, as we discovered when one of our daughters trip to the doctor for her “free” birth control pills ended up costing $175.

Sounds good, except if you are female and have gone through menopause (or have had a hysterectomy, had your tubes tied, or are for any other reason unable to conceive), exactly why should your insurance policy be required to have maternity care? It does. And if you are a guy, why do you need maternity care or free contraceptives? The government says you do. One size fits all. Someone has to pay for all that “free” care others are getting after all. As Jonathan Gruber, the architect of Obamacare stated recently, Genetic “lottery winners” have been paying an “artificially low price.” It’s high time they started paying their fair share. Translation: if you are healthy, if you are not sick, it is high time you started forking out for those who are. You have been getting a free ride.

And if you wanted to keep that “substandard,” old fashioned insurance that the greedy insurance companies were foisting off on you, well, it’s only because you aren’t smart enough to know you’ve been had. Thank goodness we have the government riding to our rescue! And if it costs more now than it did, so what? It’s what you should have been paying in the first place!

Well, this didn’t work out so well either. People were having problems getting on the exchanges. And when they did, many discovered that not only was their insurance going to cost them more than before (in some cases, vastly more), but the deductibles were going to be higher too, with less coverage in some cases than they had before, fewer choices in hospitals and/or doctors (seems if you like those you can’t keep them either, despite promises to the contrary) while covering things they did not need. The President’s numbers started to fall. Comedians were having a field day with him on television.

So, in a speech on 4 Nov 2013, the president modified history and claimed that what he really said was this: “Now, if you have or had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.”

This despite innumerable video clips on YouTube of him saying “if you like your plan, you can keep it” over and over again (just in case you thought you had imagined him saying that), including during the first presidential debate. Click here for a list of 37 instances where the president or one of his top administration officials said this. . I don’t know about you, but 37 times is a bit more than “a slip of the tongue” to me.

If you want to see the actual videos, they are absurdly easy to Google. You can view some of them on this Washington post article. There are even montages people have posted so you can watch them all in one shot. I have watched what he said before 4 Nov 2013, and what he said on that date, and all I can tell you is that his lips moved, and they didn’t move the same way, and the same sounds did not come out on 4 Nov 2013 as they did when he vocalized them before.

No, Mr. President, you did not say, despite your recent words to the contrary, that “if you like your plan…you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.” That may be what the law you passed said (the one that we didn’t have time to read; the one that Nancy Pelosi said we had to pass so we could find out what was in it), but that is not what you said. Ever. Until 4 Nov 2013.

Then, when that didn’t fly, (even the media couldn’t swallow that one) the next day the president made a new speech in which he blamed everyone except himself for misleading everyone. He was apparently left in the dark about aspects of his signature legislation (the lawmakers and staffers are at fault). He acknowledged that he and his advisers really didn’t know the first thing about selling insurance via a website (even though private insurers have been doing the same thing for years). And he blamed, of all things, federal government rules for being an impediment to progress! You know, like all those Obamacare rules they have been writing for the past three years? Where does he think federal government rules and regulations come from, anyway?

He then, with a figurative gesture of the imperial scepter, granted insurance companies the ability to simply ignore the law that said they had to provide “adequate” coverage, and continue offering the “substandard” plans people already had for another year.

Where in the Constitution is the President granted the power and authority to arbitrarily reach in and change a law that was duly passed by Congress? The President is in the executive branch of government, not the legislative. I was taught in school that it required Congress to pass a new law to overturn or modify an existing law. Interestingly, even Democrats, including Howard Dean, were questioning that one initially – but not for long.

Because, of course, we mustn’t modify the actual law; that was stated in no uncertain terms during the government shutdown as Republicans in the House offered up bill after bill to get some parts of Obamacare changed, none of which was taken up by the Senate (and which, if one did somehow happen to pass both houses, the President promised a veto anyway), including one to force Congress to live under Obamacare itself.

Why actually change a law when you can simply not enforce it? President Obama has been doing this as an end-run around Congress for quite some time now. What do you call it when the chief executive refuses to enforce laws he doesn’t like, and rules instead by decree? The word “dictator” comes to mind. Or “tyrant.” It certainly is not upholding the rule of law; but then again, despite being touted as a “constitutional scholar” this president has never been big on upholding the law. Being a “constitutional scholar” does not mean you support the Constitution (oath of office notwithstanding); it simply means you have studied the document, and in his case, found it wanting.

So let’s get this straight. The President claims that the problems with the website are the fault of Government, which has too many rules and regulations to allow them to build a website that works (that they had three years to get right), but somehow a 2500 page bill on Healthcare and a stack of regulations towering 6 feet high (so far) is not going to cause any impediments to you getting your healthcare? They can’t build a website but they can micro-manage the health care system for the entire country? Really?

And don’t you find it a bit odd that a president, who excoriated George Bush (and Mitt Romney for that matter) for sending American jobs offshore to foreign countries, chose a Canadian firm to build the website to host his signature legislation? Although it has been reported that the firm was paid $634 million to build the site, it appears that the actual cost was "only" around $70 million. The actual contract that was awarded was $93 million (although a lot of numbers are being thrown around); thus the company apparently made a cool $23 million profit on a site that does not work, which was known to only be able to handle 500 customers before crashing in tests only days before the rollout, and which the Obamacare tech team has no idea how much additional money will need to be spent before it finally becomes operational.

But hey, it will work when it does. And in the meantime, the President will suspend implementation of the law until such time as it is convenient politically for him to start enforcing it. Like sometime after the upcoming 2014 elections.

In the meantime it appears that insurance companies can continue to (illegally, but who cares) offer “substandard” insurance healthy people like (which means they won’t be signing up on the exchanges) while sick people flock to the exchanges to get subsidized or free health care that is being paid for by who now? Economically this does not work. But we are in the land of the sugarplum fairies here, not in reality anymore.

It has now been demonstrated that the President is willing to ignore laws when it suits him, cut deals for his friends (and special interests that pay him campaign payola), squash his enemies like a bug when they get in his way, and in general, show disdain for the Constitution, the Rule of Law, and for the American public except in as much as he needs people to vote for him and his party in elections. (Note: he personally doesn’t need you for that anymore, since he can't run for president again, and if you give the House and Senate to the Democrats this next election, he won't need you at all.)

It has been demonstrated that he will say and do whatever it takes to accomplish his agenda, even lie shamelessly to the public, and then lie shamelessly about the lie he told previously. It is not the first time we have been lied to, face to face by a President of the United States, nor is it likely to be the last. However, far from being the most ethical and transparent administration in the history of the country as it was advertised to be from the start, it is looking more and more like the Daley administration (Chicago) has taken over the White House.

It has also been demonstrated that, whatever you may think of their tactics, the Republicans were right all along on the issue of Obamacare and its effect on people and the economy. The question is, will anyone care?

The one I feel sorry for is White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who on 29 October came out and told everyone that “the president was clear about a basic fact. If you had insurance that you liked on the individual market, and you wanted to keep that insurance…you could.” Too bad his boss had to come along a bit later and not just qualify the remark (as noted above), but actually have to issue a “sort of” apology (he is sorry you misunderstood his misleading statements) to everyone about misleading them on that “basic fact” that turned out not to be a fact after all. This is particularly egregious as it seems that the administration knew this way back in 2010 but continued to mislead until finally it became apparent that the supposed “basic fact” that had hitherto been touted was in fact, fiction.

The mainstream media seems to be getting it, finally, but how long will that last? MSNBC is still a tool; on the same day that Carney was defending an indefensible (and ultimately abandoned) position, MSNBC had this to say, still carrying the President’s water and preserving the spin. The public is starting to see the ugly reality of Obamacare wrought on the 10% or so of Americans who buy individual insurance; but wait until the exemption from the law he gave earlier this year for the employer mandate runs out next year! Most people get their insurance through their employers; look for the same thing to happen next year as this year with those policies. This is just a drop in the bucket to the estimated 50-100 million policies that will be cancelled next fall – right before the national elections.

I bet you had no idea that there were so many “substandard” health insurance policies in America. But then again, the real game plan here isn’t to get you cheaper insurance – it’s to get you government insurance; a single payer, European socialized medicine healthcare system. Both the President and Harry Reid (Senate Majority Leader, D-NV) are on record as saying that is their preference. In fact, the President told this to his more radical supporters when Obamacare passed. They were upset with him for not putting such a system in place from the get go. He had to soothe them by telling them that we would get there eventually – this was just a bridge to achieve that goal. And those on the left are still pushing for it. (This one is a classic example of how those on the left view Obamacare).

Because you know, capitalism is evil. Profits are evil. Insurance companies are definitely evil. The government knows what is best for you. The government cares. The government has your best interests at heart. And only the government, those smart folks we elect and those bureaucrats working at places like Social Security the IRS, DHS, and other places, slaving away day after day in their anonymous cubicles writing the regulations (not laws) that you (not them) will have to abide by, and the kindly folks administering the programs, like the ones you interface with at the DMV and other fine government facilities, can do that for you.

Lying. Ruling by decree. Using the IRS to get back at enemies. Limiting access to the press. Secrecy. Coercion. For these things and others, the Nixon Administration was referred to as the “Imperial Presidency.” It looks to me like we have a new Emperor on the throne at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

UPDATE: 26 Nov 2013. Oh and one more thing. Remember those "death panels" that were mentioned way back when by Republicans? You know, the ones that were laughed at by the mainstream press; the ones they used to hold up to ridicule such folks as Sarah Palin, who werejust "too extreme" in their rabid, anti-Obamacare point of view? Well, when you actually read the bill and look at the implementation (now that we have passed it, we can do that, remember) guess what? They are there after all!

Oh to be sure, they are not so crass as to label them as such. There is no section, paragraph, subparagraph with the header "death panels." But they are there none the less. It's how they control costs. Nothing is really "free," so if you need a particular treatment, a panel of "disinterested" government bureaucrats will decide, based on such things as your age, "quality of life," your expected remaining benefit to society if you are treated, the cost of the treatment, how much money is left in the budget, and other factors, whether or not you actually get the treatment.

Suppose at age 85, you are told by your doctor that you need a hip replacement. Why should society shell out anywhere between $11,000 and $125,000 (prices vary wildly depending on where you are and where you get it done) for a hip replacement when you are already past your expected lifespan? You've had a good ride! Much cheaper to simply perscribe pain killers and send you home. You have had your day; it's time for you to move on.

They say the "devil is in the details" and the details are now available there in black and white for all to see. It isn't speculation any more. When critics told you this back during the original debate, you were told by the Democrats and the press that the detractors were smoking dope. Of course, there are no "death panels!" So who's the dope now?