Whether you like Obamacare or not, nationalizing healthcare was the boldest legislative achievement of any president since anything Ronald Regan did in the 1980s.
But the cost for Obama politically has been very high. Since passing ACA, Obama has lost control over the House by a fairly large margin. The mid-term election in 2010, which can only be described as a terrible defeat for the president, was a direct result of the bizarre way Obamacare passed. And, also, the bizarre promises made to pass it.
It was hailed as a “deficit reducer,” as the savior for small business, as a job creator and, if you qualified for certain tax credits, it would wash and wax your car on non-Christian holy days.
But it was passed unread, unvetted and unwisely, and thus the gargantuan legislation raised serious doubts about the Democrats’ ability to responsibly approach any problem.
Consequently, the American people split up the government. This has hampered Obama’s ability to be effective in implementing other parts of his agenda.
For conservatives, of course, that’s the good news.
For Obama, the results probably augur poorly for him.
History will likely look back at Obama’s presidency and judge it mostly in regards to Obamacare. And unfortunately for the president, whatever history may say, contemporary facts are not being kind to his healthcare overhaul so far.
The people in 2010 proved prescient in that the vote proved they doubted Democrats could deliver on their promises for their version of healthcare reform.
And now even elected Democrats are having doubts about the wisdom of Obamacare. The Senate, still controlled by Obama’s party, symbolically voted to repeal a key piece of the legislation- the medical device tax- in what is probably the first step towards trying to save the Senate majority for the Democrats. Expect more tinkering with ACA as we get closer to the 2014 midterms.
The GOP has put out a research piece- you can find it here- that details the failed promises that Obama made as regards to healthcare, promises that now sound like they were meant to be broken.
When campaigning for the presidency Obama changed significant portions of his healthcare platform to provide folks a marked contrast from Hillarycare. Clinton’s plan made no pretentions about keeping private insurance. Hillary was going to nationalize healthcare with a single payer system.
Obama however made several emendations to his healthcare “reform” platform including telling people they could keep their doctor and their insurance if they wished.
It was a promise he reiterated when president: “They’ll see that if Americans like their doctor,” said Obama, “they will keep their doctor. And if you like your insurance plan, you will keep it. No one will be able to take that away from you. It hasn’t happened yet. It won’t happen in the future.”
But as Obamcare enters the implementation phase, the new reality of fewer private insurers is sinking in.
“So what happens to the plans that don't meet the new minimum standards?” asks CNN Money, “They will likely disappear. A handful of existing plans will be grandfathered in, but the qualifying criteria for that is hard to meet: Members have to have been enrolled in the plan before the ACA passed in 2010, and the plan has to have maintained fairly steady co-pay, deductible and coverage rates until now.”
But changing to fewer insurance options pales in comparison to the tax bite and premium increases that people are seeing as a result of Obamacare.
“The Society of Actuaries,” writes the Wall Street Journal, “a nonpartisan professional association, has issued a new report warning that the cost of medical claims in the new individual-insurance market could rise by an average of 32% per person over the first few years the law is in place.”
And taxes will go up too- and not just on greedy, banks, -er, strike that- doctors making more than $200,000 per year and hiding money in Cypriot banks.
The taxes, instead, will affect you too.
One key feature of Obamcare is a subsidy promised to middle class families to make insurance more affordable. The problem is that if you get a raise, find a better job or otherwise have too much good fortune, the government will want some of that money back.
“Twice since the health care law was passed Congress has increased the caps for how much people will have to repay,” reports the AP. “Combined, the two measures are expected to raise more than $40 billion over the next decade, according to Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation.”
That’s a novel way of “raising” taxes. Give people money and then force them to give it back. Yes, Obamacare does that too. Prepare to be amazed.
With $40 billion in increased caps, plus 2 percent payroll tax, plus taxes on medical devices- which will paid for by patients not companies- plus taxes on those with higher medical expenses, taxes on drugs and insurance companies- which also will be paid by patients- not the companies, Obama’s party of “Yes we can” has proven conclusively that when it comes to broken promises, broken tax schemes and broken benefits: Yes they can, and yes, they did.
That’s a quite a legacy for Obama.
And it proves that the boldest plans aren’t always the smartest, or cheapest.
Or the best legacy for Democrats to carry into 2014.