Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Muddy, Up-Hill Road for ObamaCare

Should have read that detour sign

Detour there’s a muddy road

Detour there’s a muddy road

Should have read that detour sign.

Detour, popular song, 1945

Does the road wind uphill all the way?

Yes, to the very end.

Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?

From morn to night, my friend.

Christina Rosetti (1830-1894), Up-Hill

At this point, the road ahead for ObamaCare looks muddy and up-hill.

• Midterm prospects increasingly point to a GOP takeover over of the Senate. This would not prove fatal for ObamaCare, because of Obama’s veto power. But it would be more slow-going for the health law. The President would have to compromise on certain provisions, like pulling back of penalties for businesses with 50 or more employees and repealing the 2.3% excise take on medical innovation businesses .

• The upcoming second November 15 enrollment in ObamaCare. With a Republican Senate win and a vote for repeal, the prospects for enrollment would be muddied. Obama forces hope for a 5 million enrollment on top of the 8 million sign-ups from October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014 but that may be an up-hill struggle for several reasons: one, further confusion over sign-up process, two, the short-sign period of 3 months compared to the previous sign-up period of 6 months, and wide and wild swings in premiums spikes.

• The Halig-Burwell Supreme Court decision. It is not yet known if the Court will take up the Halig matter, the controversial D.C. appeal court decision that the Obama administration could only offer subsidies to State exchanges. But if the Court were to take up the matter and to rule that the appeal court was corrent, it would be a political stake in the heart of ObamaCare a victory for the so-called Textualists, those judges who believe the words of laws, not their intentions, are sacred.

• Then there are the externalities, those events outside of ObamaCare that influence but are not directly related to the health law itself. These externalities might include a stock market downturn, collapse of President Obama’s foreign policy, racial rioting in America, a terrorist attack on American cities, a dramatic slowdown of the economy.

There is always the other possibilities – that President Obama would seek compromise and negotiations with his political opponents; that he would press for passage of the Keystone pipeline and repeal the tax on U.S. medical innovation companies, favored by both parties; that he would push for reduction of America’s corporate tax, the highest in the world; that he would further delay or even scrap ObamaCare’s individual and employer mandates; that he would authorize attacks on the Syrian headquarters of ISIS; that he would send direct military aid to the Kurds and the Ukrainians.

These things would require an ideological detour.for the President; that he would take a sharp turn to the right, and that he would seek lead from the front rather than the back, to clear the muddy road and to make its incline more downhill than uphill.

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