What the president doesn't want you to ask.
“What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?” is the question that tripped up the bridge-keeper in the 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, resulting in the bridge-keeper’s immediate death.
Well-thought out questions about ObamaCare directed at President Obama would not result in the same fate, but politically-speaking, they could be just as much of a game-changer. Maybe this is why President Obama has allowed so few questions following his recent statements concerning ObamaCare. This is an unpopular law that is being promoted with empty slogans and outright lies.
But tough questions must be asked. Here are five of my suggestions:
Question 1: “Why do you refer to ObamaCare as a law that is already in place when your administration has been treating it as a malleable bill for three years?” There are many examples of administrative actions taken that contradict the wording of the Affordable Care Act, but here are a few: over 1200 ObamaCare waivers have been granted since the law’s passage, primarily to labor unions. The administration has also abandoned the CLASS Act part of ObamaCare, and the administration has recently announced a delay of two years for the employer mandate. None of these actions have any basis in the wording of the law as passed by Congress.
So why not make a few more changes to ObamaCare, especially if they are supported by the general public? Republicans in Congress only seem to be taking their cue on the changeability of ObamaCare from the Obama administration itself. It is pretty inconsistent to spend three years changing a law and then claim that because it is a law, with the president’s signature, that the law cannot be changed. Of course it can be changed – President Obama has been changing it on the fly for three years!
Question 2: “Why is it so wrong to bargain with congressional Republicans on a continuing resolution that changes some or all of ObamaCare when you have essentially been bargaining with your supporters on ObamaCare since it passed three years ago?” This is the problem with granting waivers and exemptions from the law that is binding on the general public. Apparently it is fine to bargain with supporters of the administration – and that is what it is, an implicit bargain for continued political support -- but not OK to bargain with Republicans.
I will answer my own question here, which is that the Republicans cannot threaten to withdraw political support for President Obama, because Republicans are the loyal opposition. But the question should be asked anyway. It exposes the cynicism at work here.
Question 3: “When you were a senator in 2006 and a Republican president requested that Congress raise the debt ceiling, you spoke on the Senate floor that such a request showed a ‘lack of leadership’ and you voted against the increase. Now your aide compared congressional Republicans who oppose raising the debt limit to terrorists and arsonists. Do you stand by that characterization?”
Let’s face it: President Obama is asking senators and representatives to vote “yes” on something. And instead of meeting with these people and making the case for a higher debt limit, he calls them names and threatens them with blame for a “no” vote or not acting at all. Not only is this childish, but it is also unrealistic. Calling people names is not a good way to get them to do what you want them to do.
Question 4: “Why not equalize the applicability of ObamaCare to everyone, including yourself, the entire executive branch, Congress, their staffs and families?” This different treatment may be the most annoying part of ObamaCare.
The public has watched with disgust the shenanigans in Washington, where healthcare policies for the political class and federal workers are exempt from the healthcare laws that apply to the rest of us. Even the IRS agents who are in charge of enforcing ObamaCare on the rest of us do not want to be subject to it.
Question 5: “How could you have been so wrong in promising a $2,500 annual drop in healthcare premiums for a typical family of four under ObamaCare?” President Obama mentioned this figure many times throughout his 2008 campaign, and in the months preceding the passage of the law. President Obama may claim that he was making a good faith projection, but the reality is that when he repeatedly made this promise he was way off. Instead of going down, most family’s healthcare costs are going up. Way up. Healthcare premiums may well replace the mortgage, food and car payments as a typical American family’s top monthly expense.
So, after all these and other questions, a typical ObamaCare supporter might complain of ineffective messaging – they usually do. But in this case the Obama administration has already pledged $67 million to over 100 organizations to help “navigate” consumers through their health insurance options under ObamaCare. Celebrities have signed up to help promote ObamaCare. Now NBC News has decided to spend a whole week extolling the virtues of ObamaCare.
Maybe NBC News can persuade me that the letter I received last week telling me of a 71% premium increase, for a worse health insurance policy, was not in fact true. Or maybe NBC News can tell thousands of employees whose hours were dropped to part-time because of ObamaCare, that their demotions were for the best. ObamaCare is a disaster and anyone trying to sugarcoat it or even explain it has a tough road to hoe.
Reality is difficult to hide.
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