"How Can There Still Be A Problem? We Passed A Law!"

Damn. One of my favorite styles to write in is to start off with a quote or a joke or something that seems totally unrelated to the topic at hand, and then make it work. This time, though, I have two that I can’t pick between them. So here they both are.

1) Back in the bad old days of the Soviet Union, there was a joke going around about a man who called Brezhnev a fool. He was sentenced to fifteen years in prison — five for insulting the Premier, ten for revealing a state secret.

2) “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

At one point during the ObamaCare debate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi committed the classical definition of a political gaffe — she spoke a bit too truthfully — when she said “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.”

Truer words have never passed her lips. Pelosi had far, far more to do with the content of the bill than did Obama, who cheerfully handed over the detail work to Congress. And now that we’ve passed the bill, it’s becoming clear just what a dog’s breakfast it is.

First up, insurance companies — who, as the subject of the bill and much vituperation by its backers — sicced their lawyers on the bill to pore over it and decipher exactly what it says. They knew that they had to abide to the very letter of that law, or they’d be strung up by their heels (quite possibly literally, considering the demonizing of them by Obama and his minions). And as an additional safety measure, they publicly announced their interpretation of the law well before it took effect — so others could check their work and find any potential errors in their understanding.

Well, the first thing that came out was that the insurance company’s lawyers figured that the law, as written and signed, did NOT do what Obama had said would be a centerpiece of the bill — forbid the exclusion of previously-existing conditions for children.

Next, several very big publicly traded companies sicced their tax lawyers and accountants on the bill, as they are legally obligated to re-assess their finances publicly whenever there is a serious change in things — and ObamaCare will definitely have a serious effect on their finances. They ran the numbers, ran some scenarios, and in their best judgment they would take a hefty hit in their books. So they reported that.

In both cases, the companies acted in full compliance with the law, both in letter and in spirit, in good faith, and reported what they, in their best judgment, saw as the truth. And in both cases, they were roundly criticized by the backers of ObamaCare. Indeed, the big companies who reassessed their finances are going to get hauled before Congress to answer for their statements.

My inclination, were I the head of one of those insurance companies would be something like “we had our people do something that you apparently never did — we actually read the bill you passed. We understand that you intend to enforce the letter of this law against us, so we made damned sure we read every single letter of that law. And while you talked about covering pre-existing conditions of children in there, you didn’t actually put it in.”

Or, if I were the head of one of those companies, would be to show up with a phalanx of my tax lawyers and accountants, and say “the laws you passed regarding financial disclosure demands that we issue such statements. These highly-trained, highly-skilled, very knowledgeable tax professionals, obeyed the laws you have passed and best professional practices and analyzed how this abortion of a ‘health care financing reform’ law you just passed and reported honestly on what that law will actually do. If you have a problem with reality, take it up with a therapist. I’m sure that your ‘Cadillac’ health plans that we’re all paying for will cover it.”

Yet another example of why I’m not a big CEO, and never will be. Because people who speak that kind of truth to the kind of people in power right now tend to get stomped on — along with their companies.

The response so far from the Democrats is remarkably enlightening. They are outraged that the companies they are trying to control are not doing what the Democrats want them to do, but what the Democrats have told them to do. They are outraged that the companies are paying attention to the law, and not what the Democrats are saying is or should be the law. They are outraged that they simply can’t wave their hands and rewrite reality based on their good intentions and cheerful fantasies.

This ObamaCare situation represents liberal political theory in a nutshell. See a problem, demagogue on it, pass an ill-conceived law to “fix” it, declare the problem fixed, and shoot anyone who dares point out how their fixes not only haven’t fixed the problem, but in some ways made things even worse.

Is it November yet?

Michael Barone Gets It
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