The Corner

It Is a Trap

Count me in the Erick Erickson camp when it comes to the Upton gimmickry – because, at best, that’s all it is. Republicans would make a big mistake backing it.

The GOP should not be working to “fix” Obamacare. That would just further tar Republicans as part owners of Obamacare. They should be working to scrap Obamacare now, while the political momentum is swinging to their side. Democrats are rightly starting to panic, so Republicans should be driving a hard bargain – push for repeal, settle for nothing less than delay. The last thing they should be doing is throwing endangered Democrats a lifeline to reelection in 2014.

Even if Obamacare were fixable and the GOP had an interest in helping fix it – and neither is the case – Representative Fred Upton’s “Keep Your Plan Act” nonsense does not come close to being a fix. The Wall Street Journal’s editors acknowledge this morning that the bill is essentially pointless – even though they weirdly give Upton a tepid thumbs-up. Insurance companies have already done the years of planning that competent compliance with the “Affordable” Care Act called for, meaning they have shut down the plans and made new arrangements based on Obamacare’s extensive mandates. That process was and remains complicated and it cannot be undone on the dime. The health-insurance plans that have been lost are gone. You won’t be able to “Keep Your Plan” if the plan no longer exists . . . unless, of course, you believe our Constitution allows Leviathan to order insurance companies to create and issue plans that were dropped precisely because of Obamacare – and we’ll get to that (i.e., Senator Mary Landrieu’s plan) in a second.

In countering Erick Erickson at the Corner, Jeffrey Anderson ends up conceding most of Erick’s case:

Erickson is certainly right that Obamacare is not fixable, that Republican[s] shouldn’t be trying to fix it in any event, and that the only real solution to [Obamacare] is to repeal it. . . . He’s also right that the Upton bill won’t bring back to life all of the plans that Obamacare has already killed off with its coercive mandates.

Yet, Mr. Anderson says Republicans should press ahead with the Upton bill anyway, even though it cannot do what it pretends to do – and that’s not gonna enrage people at all when they figure that out, right? His scattershot reasoning is a good example of why the GOP always gets rolled in these skirmishes.

Even though the insurance plans in question are gone, Anderson urges that if, after Upton has passed, insurers declined to restore them, “the GOP would then be free to criticize those insurers,” who stand to reap a trillion taxpayer dollars. Of course, that is precisely the fraudulent narrative Democrats are desperately trying to sell: “It’s not Obama and congressional Democrats who are responsible for the unfolding catastrophe – it’s the bad insurance companies.” Anderson would have Republicans unwittingly join Democrats in selling this snake-oil.

That, naturally, would ease the way to passage of Landrieu’s alternative (actually, more a companion than an alternative to Upton). As Anderson observes, Landrieu’s bill is “more of the heavy-handed, coercive model of government that gave us Obamacare to begin with.” It purports to force insurance companies to reoffer plans that no longer make business sense due to the very conditions created by Democrats.

Anderson nevertheless sees no tension between supporting Upton and opposing Landrieu because, even as they join Democrats in clubbing the insurers, those ever-deft Republicans will easily be able to mount a simultaneous constitutional argument that Landrieu’s bill violates the Commerce Clause. And yes, that would be the same constitutional argument that failed to stop passage of Obamacare, that took three years for the Supreme Court to resolve, and despite which Chief Justice Roberts contrived a way to uphold Obamacare anyway.

I’m sure the American people will find this GOP constitutional razzmatazz very clear and compelling. By the way, did I mention that Upton, Mr. Ban the Light Bulb himself, has already signaled his support for Landrieu’s coercive bill? Yup, he proclaims it “even a bigger and perhaps better step than what we have in the House.” He sure has mastered those Commerce Clause talking-points, no?

Anderson also contends that the Upton bill would “badly undermine Obamacare’s exchanges, which would then be drained of millions of . . . people whom Obama wanted to compel to buy exchange-based plans.” (Emphasis in original.) What millions of people? As Patrick Brennan recounted here yesterday, even by inflating the numbers to include people who haven’t actually purchased plans, the Obamacare exchanges have barely been able to recruit a hundred thousand people – they are nowhere close to “millions” of applicants. People do not need the Upton bill to grasp that Obamacare is a bad deal and that they’d prefer the plans they were falsely promised they could keep. They got that.

The Upton bill would do nothing to relieve Americans who have lost their plans due to Obamacare, but it would help Democrats (a) demagogue the insurance companies, (b) pass more unconstitutional and coercive legislation, and (c) get reelected. In Louisiana, Republicans would be helping Senator Landrieu campaign as the crusader who fought to save people’s health plans – that would be the same Mary Landrieu who extorted a $300 million kickback (the infamous “Louisiana Purchase”) in exchange for voting to impose Obamacare on the country, and then helped defeat the GOP resolution that would have prevented the millions of insurance-plan cancellations Americans are suffering today.

I confess to being a bit puzzled. Wasn’t it just a couple of weeks ago that Republican leaders were saying that the only way to repeal Obamacare is to win elections?


The Latest