Democrats Way Out There With Waivers

Alex Cortes
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Posted: May 16, 2011 11:43 AM
On Friday evening the Department of Health and Human Services posted on its website 221 newly approved waivers from various provisions of ObamaCare, and for some reason, chose to forego issuing a press release celebrating the occasion. That brings the total to 1,372 businesses and 7 entire states that have now received exemptions from the law, while the rest of America bears its full oppressive weight, as many plaintively plea: Where’s MY Waiver?

The waiver fiasco presents a significant problem for ObamaCare’s supporters in that while many Americans are still largely unaware of many of its most burdensome provisions, as they become aware, more and more turn against it.

Last month I was in Brooklyn asking the constituents of Congressman Anthony Weiner, who once said “the bill and I are one”, what they thought of his recent request for a waiver for New York City. Almost every person I spoke with didn’t know what a waiver was, or that Rep. Weiner asked for one.

But when I explained it to them, they were none too happy. Beyond this anecdotal evidence, a Pulse Opinion Research conducted a survey of 1,000 likely voters for my organization Let Freedom Ring that found significant public opposition to how waivers are being doled out by the Obama Administration.

Specifically, 62% of those surveyed, including 50% of self-identified Democrats, believe average Americans should be permitted to apply for similar waivers from the law's provisions. They are currently restricted from doing so, as our Health and Human Services Secretary has arbitrarily decided that only businesses and states can apply for waivers.

In the land of equal protection under the law, shouldn’t we all be protected by ObamaCare’s damage or none should? The majority of the public apparently thinks so.

We also asked respondents whether unelected Executive Branch officials, like Secretary Sebelius, should have the power to grant waivers from a law, or whether this should be the sole responsibility of an elected Congress. 67% of those surveyed, including 60% of Democrats, responded that the Congress should be the entity that issues waivers from one of its laws, not political appointees or bureaucrats.

Voters can hold an elected Congress directly responsible at the ballot box for their actions and, as our survey demonstrates, they aren’t keen on the questionable actions of powerful, unelected bureaucrats escaping their purview, such as the present waiver fiasco.

With over 50% of waivers directly benefiting union workers, despite said workers only comprising 11% of the domestic workforce, many are wondering whether Secretary Sebelius is playing favorites and given special consideration to her union allies that helped elect her as Kansas Governor and most recently helped usher in ObamaCare? Even if this were proven to be true, voters tragically wouldn’t have any direct form of redress.

For now, their redress is public opinion and ultimately will be in holding President Obama accountable in the 2012 election for empowering unelected bureaucrats with such great power. Unfortunately for Democrats, the waiver issue will be alive and well in the next election.

Until ObamaCare is fully implemented in 2014 and individuals can then purchase heavily subsidized insurance from government-run exchanges, waivers will be necessary to prevent the realization of several of the law’s provisions that have the intended effect of throwing Americans off their employer-provided plans.

As the number of waivers continues to rise and more of the public becomes aware of the arbitrary and unaccountable nature of the process, the issue will become even more toxic for Democrats than at present. For the sake of their political standing, and more importantly for the sake of our rule of law, it would be best for Secretary Sebelius to either grant waivers to every American or get out of the waiver business entirely.

Alex Cortes is the Executive Director of Let Freedom Ring, whose initiative WheresMYWaiver.com is lobbying for individuals to also be eligible for ObamaCare waivers.