Three Years Ago, Today: Democrats Ram Through Obamacare
Time flies when you're frantically moving goalposts and remaking one-sixth of the US economy, doesn't it? Three years ago today, the House of Representatives approved the Senate-passed healthcare bill, sending it to the president's desk to become the law of the land -- all without a single Republican vote in either house of Congress. In the lead up to that moment, were effectively peddled legislative perfection. Obamacare would reduce family premiums, bend the national health spending curve downward, insure 46 million Americans, cover everyone for no additional cost, and actually reduce national deficits. The law has since survived enduring public opposition and a razor-thin Supreme Court decision, even as each element of the promised panacea has begun to crumble. Rather than launch into another new omnibus post recapitulating all the flaws of the president's signature legislative accomplishment, I'll just encourage you to go back and read these pieces, dating back to 2010. The steady stream of bad Obamacare-related news has continued to flow this year -- ranging from projections of major premium spikes, to various unpleasant "surprises," to reports of utter logistical disarray, to attempts by Democrats to demagogue and unravel more elements of their own law, to revelations of its true long-term price tag. Keep in mind that most of the "Affordable" "Care" Act hasn't even been implemented yet, although it has already spawned more than 20,000 pages of regulations that with govern your life. As a very special Obamacare birthday present, here's a New York Times profile of a small business that's trying to grapple with the major hit they're about to endure:
The company is one of thousands of small businesses that employ more than 50 full-time employees and thus will be required to offer health insurance to their workers — or pay into a government fund — beginning Jan. 1. Rachel Shein and Steve Pilarski, the married owners of the bakery, which employs 95 people, estimate this could cost their business up to $108,000, and they are weighing their options as the date approaches. “Our revenues are about $8 million, but the food business is a low-margin industry so cutting $108,000 out of our profits, which are just over $200,000, is a big deal,” said Ms. Shein, who is the chief executive. They are evaluating different ways to comply with the new law and finance the expense.
The three options they're weighing? (1) Providing insurance to all required employees, wiping out most of their profit in the process (which would cripple their ability to expand or reinvest in the business). (2) Not offering a plan, "dumping" employees into the taxpayer-funded Obamacare exchanges, and paying the associated fines. That fine/penalty/tax, by the way, would be higher than the initial cost of providing coverage, but might be more advantageous due to concerns over creeping costs and compliance expenses. Both of these first two options would entail raising prices and passing costs down to their customers, which would place the company at a competitive disadvantage against rivals who employ fewer than 50 employees -- and are therefore exempt from the mandate. (3) they may slash the size of their full time staff by outsourcing certain jobs to outside vendors, in hopes of dipping beneath the 50-employee mandate threshold. Conservative warnings about negative effects on businesses, swelling public costs and job losses weren't fantasies. The Left's reaction to all of this? Quit whining. Really:
Just a week ago Five Guys burgers announced the cost of Obamacare compliance was going to force them to raise prices. Matt Yglesias, who writes for Slate, was quick to call them "whiners:" Obamacare is going to reduce his profits by about one-eighth and he (and any investors in his business) will eat the loss. With corporate profits as a share of the economy at an all-time high, nobody's going to cry for him either. In other words, eat the 1/8 loss of profits and shut up about it. I pointed out on Twitter that it was weird Yglesias hadn't said anything about Baked in the Sun and his response was that he'd already said all he had to say. The cost of compliance and the potential loss of revenue from smaller competitors--it's all irrelevant. Just stop whining, he explained.
I'll leave you with two parting gifts. First, a new poll, via Phil Klein:
Obamacare’s formal name is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll, even Democrats are skeptical that the law will improve health care quality and reduce costs. Kaiser’s health tracking poll found that 37 percent of Democrats said “the cost of health care for the nation as a whole” would be better as a result of the law, just 39 percent said health care quality would be better and 27 percent said consumer protections for private insurance would be better. However, 53 percent of Democrats said the law would improve access to health care for the uninsured. The numbers are worse for the population as a whole. When Republicans and independents are included, just 21 percent believe Obamacare will improve costs and 24 percent say it will improve quality.
Which brings us to our second item, in the form of a priceless* Pelosi flashback. Here's the former House Speaker explaining how Obamacare would cut deficits and create "four million" jobs:
*My mistake. It's not a "priceless" clip. It's a $6.2 trillion clip.