Michael Barone

Question: What do the following have in common? Eckert Cold Storage Co., Kerly Homes of Yuma, Classic Party Rentals, West Coast Turf Inc., Ellenbecker Investment Group Inc., Only in San Francisco, Hotel Nikko, International Pacific Halibut Commission, City of Puyallup, Local 485 Health and Welfare Fund, Chicago Plastering Institute Health & Welfare Fund, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, Teamsters Local 522 Fund Welfare Fund Roofers Division, StayWell Saipan Basic Plan, CIGNA, Caribbean Workers' Voluntary Employees' Beneficiary Health and Welfare Plan.

Answer: They are all among the 1,372 businesses, state and local governments, labor unions and insurers, covering 3,095,593 individuals or families, that have been granted a waiver from Obamacare by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

All of which raises another question: If Obamacare is so great, why do so many people want to get out from under it?

More specifically, why are more than half of those 3,095,593 in plans run by labor unions, which were among Obamacare's biggest political supporters? Union members are only 12 percent of all employees but have gotten 50.3 percent of Obamacare waivers.

Just in April, Sebelius granted 38 waivers to restaurants, nightclubs, spas and hotels in former Speaker Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco congressional district. Pelosi's office said she had nothing to do with it.

On its website, HHS pledges that the waiver process will be transparent. But it doesn't list those whose requests for waivers have been denied.

It does say that requests are "reviewed on a case by case basis by Department officials who look at a series of factors including" -- and then listing two factors. And it refers you to another website that says that "several factors ... may be considered" -- and then lists six factors.

What other factors may be considered? Political contributions or connections? (Unions contributed $400 million to Democrats in the 2008 campaign cycle.) The websites don't say.

In his new book, "The Origins of Political Order," Francis Fukuyama identifies the chief building blocks of liberal democracy as a strong central state, a society strong enough to hold the state accountable and -- equally crucial -- the rule of law.

One basic principle of the rule of law is that laws apply to everybody. If the sign says "No Parking," you're not supposed to park there even if you're a pal of the alderman.

Another principle of the rule of law is that government can't make up new rules to help its cronies and hurt its adversaries except through due process, such as getting a legislature to pass a new law.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM