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The year of lying dangerously

Two thousand and thirteen proved to be the year that the foundational lies of Obamacare blew up in the president’s face. With the pending implementation of the Obamacare regime, it is a historic moment.

Even when it comes to the smallest details of implementation — the status of the Web site, the open security issues, the relevant numbers — the Obama administration jealously guards the truth from disclosure. Applying Occam’s razor to the administration’s treatment of the facts, it seems to me that only two explanations can apply to its treatment of the facts as secrets of state. The facts are embarrassing and they want to be free to lie about them.

Thus President Obama opened his year-end press conference yesterday — the White House has posted the text here — with this statement near the top:

[F]or all the challenges we’ve had and all the challenges that we’ve been working on diligently in dealing with both the ACA [Obamacare] and the website these past couple months, more than half a million Americans have enrolled through healthcare.gov in the first three weeks of December alone. In California, for example, a state operating its own marketplace, more than 15,000 Americans are enrolling every single day. And in the federal website, tens of thousands are enrolling every single day. Since October 1st, more than one million Americans have selected new health insurance plans through the federal and state marketplaces. So, all told, millions of Americans, despite the problems with the website, are now poised to be covered by quality, affordable health insurance come New Year’s Day. Now, this holiday season, there are mothers and fathers and entrepreneurs and workers who have something new to celebrate — the security of knowing that when the unexpected or misfortune strikes, hardship no longer has to.

Note the use of the term “enrolling” with respect to the federal website. Does that include payment of premiums? Of those millions who are poised to “enroll,” I wonder, exactly how many were without insurance before “enrolling”? How many have been deprived of their insurance by Obamacare itself? How many will be deprived of their insurance by Obamacare itself?

And then we have the use of the term “hardship” in the last sentence of the paragraph. On Thursday night the administration declared that Obamacare had created “hardship” for millions who had lost their insurance as a result of the law. It decreed that those millions who had lost their insurance as a result of Obamacare were exempt from the law as a result of the hardship created by the law. In its characteristically excellent Obamacare editorial on this week’s developments in rule by decree (and do read the whole thing), the Wall Street Journal puts it this way:

So merry Christmas. If ObamaCare’s benefit and income redistribution requirements made your old, cheaper, better health plan illegal, you now have the option of going without coverage without the government taking your money as punishment. You can also claim the tautological consolation of an ObamaCare hardship exemption due to ObamaCare itself.

These exemptions were supposed to go only to the truly destitute such as the homeless, bankrupts or victims of domestic violence. But this week a group of six endangered Senate Democrats importuned HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to “clarify” that the victims of ObamaCare also qualify. An excerpt from their Wednesday letter, whose signatories include New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen and Virginia’s Mark Warner, is nearby.

HHS and the Senators must have coordinated in advance because literally overnight HHS rushed out a bulletin noting that exemptions are available to those who “experienced financial or domestic circumstances, including an unexpected natural or human-caused event, such that he or she had a significant, unexpected increase in essential expenses that prevented him or her from obtaining coverage under a qualified health plan.” A tornado destroys the neighborhood or ObamaCare blows up the individual insurance market, what’s the difference?

The HHS ruling is that ObamaCare is precisely such a “significant, unexpected increase.” In other words, it is an admission that rate shock is real and the mandates drive up costs well into hardship territory. HHS is agreeing with the Senators that exemptions should cover “an individual whose 2013 plan was canceled and considers their new premium unaffordable.” In her reply letter, Mrs. Sebelius also observes that some people “are having difficulty finding an acceptable replacement.” She means the new plans are overpriced.

Don’t cry for me, Venezuela.

Obama addressed this week’s development in rule by decree in response to a question from Chuck Todd toward the end of the press conference. Obama’s response came wrapped in the usual fog of deception and added this take on the numbers:

We’ve got a couple million people who are going to have health insurance just in the first three months, despite the fact that probably the first month and a half was lost because of problems with the website and about as bad a bunch of publicity as you could imagine. And yet you’ve still got 2 million people who signed up, or more. And so what that means then is that the demand is there and, as I said before, the product is good.

How do we know the product is good? The product is mandated by law subject to the Obamacare penalty. And those “couple million people” must include those who have signed up for Medicaid under the vast expansion in medical welfare under Obamacare. As of the close of year five of the age of Obama, the undeniable accomplishment of the Obama administration at home must be the expansion of federal government welfare programs including food stamps and Medicaid.

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