Slowly but surely President Obama is unwinding, rolling back, and even cancelling his very own Obamacare. A couple of years ago he told Republicans not to mess with his plan. He said he’d veto any changes. But now, in substantial ways, he’s messing with his own plan.
By various counts, the president has made 25 to 30 key changes to the Affordable Care Act. They all violate the legislation passed in 2010. Many believe Obama’s executive actions are unlawful or unconstitutional. Whatever the case, at this rate, there may not be much if any Obamacare in the next couple of years.
So why don’t the Republicans make this official?
While many individuals in Congress — like Richard Burr, Tom Coburn, Orrin Hatch, and Ron Johnson in the Senate, and Paul Ryan, Tom Price, Steve Scalise, Devin Nunes in the House (among others) — have come up with good ideas to change Obamacare, they lack the bully pulpit. So there’s a certain scattershot effect here, even though their ideas are good ones.
So how about this simple 2014 campaign idea: The Republicans, as a party, tell the voters that if they keep the House and recapture the Senate, they will immediately push for a three-year moratorium on Obamacare.
On all of it: The mandates. The time extensions. The taxes. The regulations. The job losses. The reductions in hours worked. The part-time hiring. The website. The potential taxpayer bailout of insurance companies. The verification of income. The lack of personal security and threat of ID theft. And the whole wet blanket that Obamacare has thrown over the economy and the health-care system.
The GOP should simply say, “Elect us and we will put a three-year moratorium on all of Obamacare. And then we’ll go back to the drawing board, bringing in Republicans and Democrats, and figure out a better plan.”
The three years would begin in early 2015, after the midterms, and a new health-care plan would be reported out of Congress in 2017, after the presidential elections. It would be lawful and constitutional. It would promote true health-care freedom and economic growth. And it would replace a catastrophe created by Team Obama that has so befuddled businesses, individuals, doctors, patients, and the whole one-fifth of the economy we call health care.
During that three-year moratorium, all the good ideas being generated by individual Republicans and Democrats would come to the front. There would be full debate on the whole subject. And a political fact that’s largely been missing from the current debate could be acknowledged right away: President Obama doesn’t like his own product. He needs help. And the GOP can give it to him.
This time, we won’t be doing it Nancy Pelosi’s way. We won’t have to wait until it’s passed to know what’s in it. And we won’t have the unfortunate experience of witnessing a first-attempt failure. This time, a three-year timeout will produce a product shaped by the very best policy thinkers we have.
In recent days, President Obama extended the business mandate for yet another year. It’s the second time he’s done so. The individual mandate and various tax penalties and regulations began their extensions over the past few months. Further extensions are coming as Team Obama grapples with more pink-slip cancellations, website breakdowns, enrollment and payment quandaries, and the huge verification issue. All the while, the young are still not signing up at a high-enough volume.
But various one-year extensions don’t solve problems, they merely postpone them. Businesses are not going to take longer-term risks to hire based on temporary fixes.
Frankly, no one has any idea how or when or where the final Obamacare story will be written. What we have now is a solution looking for a system. But what we need is a system that will create a solution.
And whatever new system is created, it must end the government mandates and install true health-care freedom. Consumers should be able to buy any plans they want, generated by insurance companies responding to consumer choice. Tax penalties should be turned into tax credits. Health savings accounts, interstate shopping, and tort reform must be included. Sick people must be taken care of, and the indigent must have a safety net.
And the emphasis should be on catastrophic insurance — which is the only real insurance — rather than some pre-planned health-care financing system dreamed up by a bunch of academic eggheads who have never held a job in the private sector, much less in the private health-care sector.
The GOP can come together on the simple campaign issue of a three-year moratorium. Doing so will signal common sense open-mindedness to the electorate and stop the Obamacare bleeding. Then, together, Congress can come up with a plan that will truly make America healthier.
– Larry Kudlow, NRO’s economics editor, is host of CNBC’s The Kudlow Report and author of the daily web log, Kudlow’s Money Politic$.