Breaking: Sebelius now says you *can* buy catastrophic insurance

**Posted by Phineas

Obama foreign policy advisers

Obamacare planning experts

Remember, one of the excuses offered for the massive private insurance cancellations under Obamacare was that the existing policies –the ones you chose of your own free will– just weren’t good enough. So the government had to cancel them in order to encourage force you to buy better ones.

Which is why they are now going to let us buy insurance worse than the policies that they killed. Genius:

The Obama administration said Thursday it would allow millions of Americans whose insurance policies had been canceled to purchase bare-bones plans next year, in another eleventh-hour tweak to the law likely to cause consternation among insurance carriers.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a group of six senators in a letter viewed by The Wall Street Journal that people whose policies had been canceled because of new requirements under the health law would be allowed to purchase ‘catastrophic’ plans. Those plans had previously been restricted to people under the age of 30 or individuals who qualified for a set of specific hardship exemptions.

Call me a reactionary, right-wing, knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing bitter-clinger, but wouldn’t it have been simpler and better to let people keep the blasted plans they already had and liked? I must be missing something that’s obvious to Our Betters in Washington.

I’d call this a clown-car operation, but then I’d have to find a clown to apologize to.

via Allahpundit

UPDATE: Good point from National Journal’s Clara Ritger: this is an exemption to the individual mandate, the core of Obamacare.

The Obama administration will not require the millions of Americans who received health-insurance plan cancellation notices to purchase a new policy next year.

They’re granting those consumers an exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, a Department of Heath and Human Services spokeswoman confirmed. The mandate requires everyone to have health insurance or face a tax penalty, the greater of $95 or 1 percent of income in 2014.

(…)

This change could have a more long-term impact. Catastrophic-coverage plans were priced with a 30-and-under consumer base in mind. And with thousands who were barred from the market due to preexisting conditions expected to purchase the new coverage, allowing people who already had coverage to go without it could upset the balance of the risk pool. The Affordable Care Act exchanges need enough healthy people to balance out the costs of care for the sick or premiums could rise in 2015, creating a “death spiral” and jeopardizing the law’s success altogether.

So… What, pray tell, happens to the mandate, now? Isn’t this one huge crack in the dam?

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Iran can go on enriching, but music teachers must be stopped

**Posted  by Phineas

music teacher violin

And you guys worry about Iran getting nuclear weapons? Fools! Thank God the FTC is there to protect us from the danger of unregulated violin instructors!

The Federal Trade Commission was created in 1914 in the age of oil barons and rail tycoons to bust the big trusts. Today, it’s busting a smaller enterprise – the Music Teachers National Association.

Last March, the FTC sent notice to the MTNA that it was under investigation for “anti-competitive practices.” At issue: a passage in the trade association’s ethics code that says teachers should not actively recruit from other teachers.

“We feel that that provision not only protects the students but ensures that teachers are going to get along well with their colleagues, ” says Gary Ingle, the MTNA’s executive director. 

Ingle says it’s a method of avoiding the rare conflict, where, for example, an accomplished student pianist may be approached after a competition by a rival instructor who promises to help the student win the next competition.

The FTC sees it as a threat to America’s consumers. 

There’s nothing in the rules that prevents a student from seeking out another teacher on their own, of course, and the FTC hasn’t shown how anyone has been harmed by a rule that prevents teachers from poaching each other’s students, but, apparently some bored bureaucrat decided that SOMETHING MUST BE DONE about this clear and present danger.

The MTNA has removed the rule while it figures out how to respond to the FTC’s investigation. So far, it’s amounted to a waste of member’s dues:

MTNA’s Ingle says that’s already happening. His 12-member staff in Cincinnati, Ohio has had to compile 17 years worth of records, including its by-laws, ethics code, journals, finances and membership to satisfy the FTC’s demands.

Sounds like what the IRS did to conservative groups, no? Beat them into submission by hitting them with burdensome documentation demands — and legal fees, should the group decide it needs representation.

Obama’s America: Where nothing is beneath the Federal government’s notice, except Iranian nukes.

via reader Lance

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Dumb: WH says Obama snubbed Gettysburg anniversary over “website woes”

Fail

Big time.

The Obama Ministry of Truth thinks we actually believe this nonsense?

President Obama didn’t attend Tuesday’s ceremony commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address because of scheduling issues stemming from the rollout of his signature healthcare law, the White House said Tuesday.

Obama met with senators Tuesday morning to discuss ongoing negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program, and also appeared at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council’s annual meeting.

On Thursday, Obama is scheduled to attend a ceremony at President Kennedy’s grave in Arlington National Ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination. Former President Clinton and Hillary Clinton, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, are also scheduled to attend.

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday noted that Obama had taped an appearance for a Ken Burns project on Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, which features other living presidents.

“Obviously, that address and that moment in time is seminal in our history. I think that all Americans across the country will have the opportunity to think about those words and that address,” Carney said.

Following stories questioning why the president had skipped the Gettysburg event, given his public affinity for President Lincoln, White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer tweeted that “it didn’t work schedule-wise.”

In response to a journalist’s Twitter query about what could be more important, Pfeiffer wrote: “Oh, I don’t know, there’s this whole website thing that someone suggested might destroy the [Democratic] Party.”

After Pfeiffer’s tweet got traction on Twitter, current and former White House officials mocked criticism of Obama for skipping the Gettysburg ceremony.

Of course they didn’t take it seriously and instead tried to deflect. How DARE anyone question Dear Leader!

Orwellian: Israeli soldiers *not* raping Palestinian women is racist

**Posted by Phineas

"Head meets desk"

“Head meets desk”

The Israelis just can’t win. Rape, and you’re a racist. Don’t rape, and it’s because you’re racist:

We didn’t include in our excerpt the following passage in which the failure of Israeli soldiers to rape Arab women is portrayed as an act of racism by a BDS activist.  Really, that has been an argument for years, and apparently started with a left-wing Israeli grad student complaining about how the IDF dehumanizes Palestinians.  It has morphed is to a standard trope (emphasis added):

“The claims go beyond being absurd – in one case, a professor asked me if I knew how many Palestinians have been raped by IDF forces. I answered that as far as I knew, none. She triumphantly responded that I was right, because, she said, “You IDF soldiers don’t rape Palestinians because Israelis are so racist and disgusted by them that you won’t touch them.””

There’s much more at Legal Insurrection on the insane antisemitism of the “Boycott, Disinvestment, & Sanctions” crowd and their willing-dupe allies(1) in American academia.

Disgusting.

Footnote:
(1) Including, sadly, as we see, some Israelis.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Oh, good God. Obamacare originated in a throwaway line for a speech??

**Posted by Phineas

"You're doing what??"

“Are you kidding me??”

Could it be true? Could this anti-constitutional monstrosity of a bill, which was rammed down the throats of a nation that didn’t want it and still doesn’t want it and which is already doing untold damage to our healthcare and the economy, have been born of nothing more than a need for an applause line?

According to Politico, that’s exactly what happened:

The most important red line of Barack Obama’s presidency was scrawled hastily in January 2007, a few weeks before he even announced he was running for president.

Soon-to-be-candidate Obama, then an Illinois senator, was thinking about turning down an invitation to speak at a big health care conference sponsored by the progressive group Families USA, when two aides, Robert Gibbs and Jon Favreau, hit on an idea that would make him appear more prepared and committed than he actually was at the moment.

Why not just announce his intention to pass universal health care by the end of his first term?

Thus was born Obamacare, a check-the-box, news-cycle expedient that would ultimately define a president.

“We needed something to say,” recalled one of the advisers involved in the discussion. “I can’t tell you how little thought was given to that thought other than it sounded good. So they just kind of hatched it on their own. It just happened. It wasn’t like a deep strategic conversation.”

Unbelievable. The biggest, most far-reaching socio-economic legislation since Medicare, and it was nothing more than spit-balling. People are losing their insurance, their work hours are being cut, their access to doctors and hospitals is being restricted, insurance rates are going up, the relationship between the citizen and the State has been fundamentally redefined, and all because Obama wanted to “go big” in a race he thought he was going to lose, anyway.

Allahpundit is right: this is the domestic version of Obama’s Syrian red line, something tossed off with no prior thought to the consequences.

Except Syria was stopped. With Obamacare, we’re stuck with the bill for his intellectual shallowness.

Next time you and your team have a bright idea, Mr. President — sit on it!

RELATED: More from ST on the coming crunch in medical care access. Andrew McCarthy: Defund Obamacare. John McCormack: There’s a better way. From Legal Insurrection: Medicaid-Lite. Obamacare is forcing layoffs, including doctors.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Education: I don’t recall field trips like this when I was young

**Posted by Phineas

Nope. I remember going to museums, and zoos, and observatories. We even went to a farm, where we got to milk the cows, harvest some eggs, and pick some produce. For a little kid in grammar school, those trips were fun.

Then again, we were never treated like slaves and had abuse hurled at us by our teachers, unlike these kids in Connecticut:

It was revealed this week that a school from Connecticut took their students on a field trip last November where the students reenacted slavery and had their teachers call them the N-word. The Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy took a four-day filed trip to the Nature’s Classroom in Charlton, Massachusetts.

According to the parents, they were never told about the third day of the trip (when the reenactment took place).

“The re-enactment included having the students pretend to be on a slave ship, pretend to pick cotton, pretend the teachers were their slave masters, yelling the n-word at them and chasing them through the woods.”

This is a field trip taken by a group of 12 year olds! One of the parents spoke with a local news affiliate about the trip. She said, “The fact that they used the N-Word. How dare you say that to my child and call it an educational experience? How dare you say that to my child?” This same parent was shocked when the she found out this trip had been going on for years, but no one ever saw a problem with it.

And, yes, some of the children were Black. The stupidity required to think this would be a good idea is just mind-boggling. What’s next? Putting the kids in chains and staging a sale, so they can “develop empathy?”

Whatever happened to “let them read about slavery and explain to them why it was an awful thing?”

And this was in liberal, (supposedly) enlightened New England. Can you imagine the outcry if a school anywhere in the South did this?

These are the people we have teaching our children? No wonder home-schooling is becoming more and more popular.

via Wayward_Okie

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Ever get the feeling @BarackObama does not want the #Syria resolution passed?

**Posted by Phineas

I mean, why else would you include in your “full-court press” of members of Congress a known liar (1) like Susan Rice?

From John Fund:

Up until now, the White House lobbying effort has been dismal. In an astonishing display of either ignorance or brazenness, the White House will mark the first anniversary of the Benghazi terrorist attack this Wednesday by sending National Security Adviser Susan Rice to Capitol Hill to argue the administration’s case for military force in Syria. Rice infamously delivered false talking points on national television, blaming the Benghazi attacks on a spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Islam YouTube video. Sending Rice to Congress to brief members on Syria is like sending Typhoid Mary to lecture on public health. Her credibility is, to use a diplomatic term, limited. 

Okay, okay. Maybe I was being harsh on Rice. She *may* not have known she was lying. I don’t believe it, myself, but it is possible. In which case, the administration is instead sending a clueless tool rather than a brazen liar.

That’s an improvement?

Read the rest. There are more examples of the administration bungling its congressional “diplomacy” vis-a-vis Syria; this is just the most egregious.

But this is also what they get for doing everything but build relations with Congress over the past five years. President “I won”is now learning that, supine as Congress often is, there are still times when presidents will need them, and doing the necessary work to make sure members are on your side before you need them is part of the president’s job.

You’d think the guy widely proclaimed (by his own side) to be the smartest president ever would have known that, no?

Unless, maybe, he really just wants them to save him from his own red-line gaffe and make it go away by voting no.

Footnote:
(1) Yeah, Maureen Dowd. But, read her quotes from Senator Susan Collins (R-ME, and not known as a conservative hardliner) about Rice. Between the lines, they’re devastating and demonstrate just why Rice is such a poor choice for “reach out” work.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Kerry on the Hill: “Assad used chemical weapons because Obama is weak.”

**Posted by Phineas

Wow.

Per Marc Thiessen of AEI, here’s what the Secretary of State said am few minutes ago while testifying before a Senate committee on the need to intervene in Syria:

One of the reasons Assad has been using these materials is because they have, up until now, made the calculation that the West writ large and the United States particularly are not going to do anything about it. Impunity is already working to kill a lot of people and to make things more dangerous. I guarantee you that is in their assessment.

As Thiessen points out, the leader of the West and the United States is the President of the United States. Ergo, Kerry is saying that Assad used chemical weapons because he assumed Obama can be safely ignored.

It’s the ultimate indictment of Obama’s blundering foreign policy and his incompetent Mideast grand strategy. His weakness has encouraged brutal dictators to use horrific weapons and, to stop it, we have to repair Obama’s self-image. What a great reason to start a war. At least the British had Jenkin’s ear.

Passing thought: What if this backhanded insult was Kerry’s way of getting revenge for being humiliated by Obama last week? Nah. He’s not that clever and is too anxious to be a team player.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Good news! Your tax dollars will pay Obamacare subsidies for immigrants! Huzzah!

Like Nancy Pelosi said, we had to pass the bill to find out what’s in it. Now, aren’t you glad you waited for the surprise?

via PJM:

A Department of Health and Human Services official told the House Ways and Means Committee that immigrants living in the United States on temporary visas are eligible for federally subsidized health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, “depending on their income.”

“It was my understanding it was just going to be those that are citizens of the United States or here as permanent legal residents,” Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Jim Gerlach said at a Thursday hearing on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. “Are there folks beyond that that are eligible for tax credit – taxpayer subsidies under this program?”

HHS Insurance Oversight Director Gary Cohen replied, “You have to be a citizen or lawfully present.”

When Gerlach asked for further explanation, Cohen said immigrants “could be here on a student visa and be eligible.”

Gerlach clarified Cohen’s statement by saying, “So a student from Germany comes to the United States to do four years of college; that student is going to be subsidized by taxpayers for health insurance?”

“They are eligible for subsidies depending on their income, yes,” Cohen replied.

But, don’t worry, if these immigrant students overstay their visas, Mr. Cohen promises they won’t get a subsidy. Of course, he forgot to mention we have a lousy record of tracking expired visas…

Maybe the “Don’t fund it” crowd have a point.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)