"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Postponing Obamacare Implementation

I haven't yet blogged on the Obama Administration's decision to delay implementation of the employer mandate of Obamacare for a year, until Jan. 1, 2015.   It has been hard to decide what angle to take.

1. Arrogance.  There's the arrogance of power as the President presumes to rewrite a duly-enacted law by fiat.   Congress said that implementation of the employer mandate was to occur on Jan. 1, 2014.   By what right does Obama delay it a year?   Where is it written in the Constitution that Presidents get to decide which laws they will enforce and when?   Could a Republican President in 2017 simply decide that he was going to unilaterally have a one-year moratorium on enforcement of laws that he doesn't like (or, in Obama's case, laws that are politically-awkward for him)?   Which leads me to...

2. Cynicism.  The cynicism of delaying the implementation past the 2014 elections.   Everyone with eyes to see knows what is going to happen when the employer mandate hits... there will be layoffs, there will be cutbacks on hours, there will be a spike in unemployment and, most of all, there will be unavoidable (even by our in-the-tank media) stories of outrage by citizens who lose their jobs or their healthcare as a result of Obamacare.   "Train wreck" doesn't tell the half of it.   This is going to be a full-on epic disaster.   We don't want that with the Senate majority in the balance, now do we?

3. Hypocrisy.   The sheer hypocrisy of this decision is staggering.   What did Dems tell us about the "uninsured" that Obamacare was supposed to help?   That people were dying without health insurance.   Well, using their logic, how many people will die in the year that Obama delays implementation of Obamacare?   If the tables were turned, you know that the media and the Dems would be all over this angle, saying that a Republican President had killed people through his policy decision.   Because it's Obama... crickets.

4. Stupidity.   In the end, though, the most obvious angle is probably the best.   Occam's Razor and all that.   The ostensible reason for the delay is that the system is too "complex" to be implemented in three years.   Well, isn't that the exact reason why Republicans argued that Obamacare was a bad bill to begin with?   Didn't we tell everyone that having the federal government take over one-sixth of the largest economy in the world, take over a health-care sector that is bigger than the economies of France or Canada, well, maybe, that wasn't such a good idea?   The people who can't run the Post Office?   The people who can't get the potholes filled in?   Maybe giving all that new responsibility to a sclerotic government bureacracy wasn't the best idea in the world?  

Hayek wrote about seventy or more years ago about the "knowledge problem" in command economies and why free markets, where knowledge is discovered through the operations of the market and the pricing mechanism, are necessary for a functioning economy.   Command economies don't work precisely because a centralized government cannot martial the knowledge necessary to "run" the economy.   Instead, free markets permit the economy to run itself, using the dispersed knowledge that is only available to individual actors pursuing their own ends through their own means.   Hayek was right then, and he's right now, but the libs never learn.   They just keep making the same stupid mistakes, over and over again.

It's the complexity, stupid.

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