FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Sebelius and the ObamaCare shakedown
In the small, cold hours of a dreary Washington night, the Washington Post finds a poor little waif named Kathleen Sebelius trotting from the door of one luxurious health-care mansion to the next, begging for a crust of bread or half-eaten apple to help her sickly little brother, Boondoggle O’care, make it through the night after his evil Republican stepfather left him to die:
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has gone hat in hand to health industry executives, asking them to make large financial donations to help with the effort to implement President Obama’s landmark health-care law.
Her unusual fundraising push comes after Congress has repeatedly rejected the Obama administration’s requests for additional funds to set up the Affordable Care Act, leaving Health and Human Services to implement the president’s signature legislative accomplishment on a shoestring budget.
Sebelius has, over the past three months, made multiple phone calls to health industry executives, community organizations and church groups and directly asked that they contribute to non-profits that are working to enroll uninsured Americans and increase awareness of the law, according to a Health and Human Services official familiar with the Secretary’s outreach who spoke on condition of anonymity.
I can still hear the voices of Barack Obama and the other con artists behind ObamaCare telling us how it would reduce the deficit. Now it can only survive if we either pour even more taxpayer money into it, or private industry executives agree to pony up a little charity. It’s like a Jerry Lewis telethon, except the disease is bureaucratic sclerosis.
How far did ObamaCare exceed its cost projections?
The Affordable Care Act included $1 billion to be used in overall implementation of the law. Congressional Budget Office projections, however, estimated that federal agencies would need between $5 billion to $10 billion to get the law up and running over the next decade. And as many states have refused to partner with the federal government in setting up the law, the burden on HHS has grown.
Oh, so it was only off by a thousand percent or so! Sebelius shouldn’t have too much trouble getting those health industry executives to shake $9 billion in loose change out of their pockets, right?
Of course, the character of this heartbreaking story changes a bit when you understand that Kathleen Sebelius is not a hapless street urchin going door-to-door with “hat in hand.” Thanks to ObamaCare, she is the single most powerful bureaucrat on the planet. She has the power to annihilate every one of the businessmen she’s hitting up for money, and they know it. Not only does ObamaCare centralize control over the health insurance industry, but it’s absolutely riddled with clauses granting the HHS Secretary discretion over the law – over two thousand of them, in fact. She can single-handedly rewrite policies that would cost the health care industry billions of dollars.
This thought has occurred to some of her critics:
“It sounds like the people she’s going to are people that are being regulated by her agency, I think that is definitely problematic,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director for the Campaign Legal Center. “That’s not a statement about the value of the law, but it’s a statement about using the power of government to compel giving or insinuate that giving is going to be looked at favorably by the government.”
Not that Sebelius has to do a lot of arm-twisting, because the industries she’s shaking down for ObamaCare cash have plenty of vested interests to protect. ObamaCare is, after all, a law that forces the formerly free consumers of America to purchase a product from these companies, using a blatantly unconstitutional mechanism that was magically rendered constitutional by the bizarre Roberts Court ruling. It’s a tax… no, it’s a penalty… no, it’s a tax… Whatever it had to be called to keep it alive through those Supreme Court hearings, it’s a whip that will drive people into the arms of the companies Sebelius is muscling, forcing them to buy insurance that has been made vastly more expensive by those crazy ObamaCare mandates.
The government was already the biggest “special interest” in history, endlessly agitating for its own growth and financial reward. Now it has assimilated other special interests, and become even more demanding. The commissars of ObamaCare will never allow their “junior partners” in the insurance industry to forget who’s in charge. The HHS secretary has a vast inventory of both carrots and sticks available to ensure compliance.
Not just corporate compliance, either. ObamaCare gives the State vast new powers to control individuals, too. The same IRS that just got busted for using tax audits as weapons against political dissidents – including both Tea Party and pro-Israel Jewish groups – will be among the primary enforcers of ObamaCare. We’re already well into banana-republic territory; we’ll have even more bananas to contend with in the future. Is it so hard to imagine those IPAB “death panels” taking undesirable political activity into account when rationing decisions are made, ten or twenty years from now – in an era when rationing is more essential than ever, because ObamaCare has caused the supply of medicine to contract? Perhaps they’ll spend a year denying it, then claim it was all the work of a few low-level bureaucrats in the Cincinnati office.
For the moment, the relationship between the State and its corporate junior partners is relatively cordial. Kathleen Sebelius can pretend she’s just asking for the money Congress won’t authorize, to shore up a failing program that was supposed to save taxpayers money. Things will get less cordial when they become more desperate. Fascism can begin with good manners and an upbeat attitude. In fact, it usually does.