Ask and You Shall Deceive
No one is quite sure how the White House will measure ObamaCare's success -- but then, there hasn't been that much to measure. Yesterday, an administration official spilled the beans about the President's plans for counting enrollees, and the methodology is creative to say the least. Under the new math of Health and Human Services, people who have paid for plans aren't the only ones who will be lumped into the administration's public tally. In a shameless ploy to inflate its numbers (one that would make a laughingstock out of any serious corporate entity), HHS also plans to count anyone with a policy sitting in their online shopping cart. Nevermind that they haven't bought the coverage -- or even committed to buying it. HHS is too desperate for progress to care about honest accounting.
Even with its "generous" accounting system, the White House is still set to fall ridiculously short of the half-million prediction for October it set before the launch. Right now, the Wall Street Journal's sources estimate that just 50,000 have enrolled in private health plans since the launch. And state programs aren't faring much better. So far, the 12 government-run exchanges have hit a measly 3% of its sign-up targets -- including some cringe-inducing results out of Delaware (four enrollees), D.C. (five enrollees), and Oregon -- where not one person wants to chance it with the new rationing policy. (Of course, the nation's capital could have boosted its numbers if congressional members had bothered to apply for the same coverage they passed).
To make the health care law more attractive, the federal website is cleverly repackaging the law's penalties. On the off chance that it does discuss the fees for not buying insurance, the administration is using terminology that would make George Orwell proud. They call the penalty the "Individual Shared Responsibility Payment" -- a tactic so misleading that even the New York Times complained. According to one spokesman, HHS isn't trying to hide the fines, but insists "market research" has shown that "consumers will be more receptive to soothing messages... than to threats of punishment."
Unfortunately, that's only the tip of the duplicitous iceberg. This week, James O'Keefe released new videos exposing the rampant fraud and corruption in ObamaCare's $67 million "navigators" program. Turns out, the same government-paid workers that were hired to help advise customers on the new health care law are advising them on a lot more than that! O'Keefe's crew caught a Texas navigators' site coaching potential consumers on ways to cheat the system. To a person who doesn't qualify for an ObamaCare subsidy, the navigator says, "You lie because your premiums will be higher." If you smoke, warns another, "don't report it." And Democrats think the GOP is too concerned with the law's oversight? Obviously, there hasn't been enough.
House Republicans hope to change that this week with five more hearings on the law and its "hundreds" of deficiencies in committees across the government spectrum -- Homeland Security, Energy and Commerce, Education and the Workforce, Small Business, and Oversight and Government Reform. So far, the House's leadership has been instructive -- even to the officials closest to the debacle. Were it not for his appearance before the Oversight Committee, Henry Chao, who oversaw the online portion of ObamaCare, said he wouldn't have known about the security gaps in HealthCare.gov. The law's rollout has been so dysfunctional that it took congressional testimony for Chao to understand the depth of the lax security -- a revelation he called "surprising" and "disturbing."
While HHS is circling the wagons, more Democrats are throwing the President under theirs. In the biggest shot across the 2016 bow, Bill Clinton became the most prominent liberal to toss the White House overboard. Showing the first real cracks in the party's front, the former President was blunt about the administration's deception: "Even if it takes a change to the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got." Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) was next in line to wash his hands of the debacle. "I think the President was grossly misleading to the American public," he said frankly. "A lot of Americans, a lot of Oregonians, have stayed with the same policy for a number of years and are shocked that their policy got cancelled."
Meanwhile, conservative members of Congress aren't shocked -- they've been warning the country about this possibility from the beginning. And while the Left likes to criticize the lack of GOP alternatives, Dr. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) will prove them wrong tomorrow (November 13) at FRC's policy lecture. At noon at FRC headquarters (801 G Street, NW, Washington, D.C.), Rep. Roe will offer the Republican Study Committee's patient-centered, free market substitute to the President's chaos. Don't miss Congressman Roe, who, as a medical doctor, understands firsthand the challenges facing America's health system. To register for the event, click here.
A Holy Stand in the Holy Land
A little over three years ago, I was approached by a good friend who had been working in Israel about assisting in a project to connect conservative members of Congress with Israeli officials for the purpose of building closer relationships between the two. Historically, most administrations, both Democrat and Republican, have been favorable toward Israel so there has been little need for Congress to lead out in support our embattled ally.
That all changed under the Obama administration. This past week FRC helped facilitate the second congressional tour of Israel with a heavy emphasis on Judea and Samaria, the areas behind the green line established in 1948, the Eastern part of Israel or what is often referred to as the West Bank. I should note that these educational trips are privately funded: no government money is involved. We met with a number of Israeli leaders, including mayors, members of the Knesset, former Ambassadors, the current Ambassador Ron Dermer, various ministers of the Cabinet, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
There are two main reasons for Americans to support Israel. For a large number of Christians, there are religious reasons. We have the Jewish people to thank for our faith and we are instructed in Scripture to not only pray for the peace of Jerusalem, but we are told that those who bless Israel will be blessed. Secondly, there are geo-political reasons to support Israel. Israelis understand better than anyone how to interpret both the words and actions of those in this region who seek to do them harm. Western solutions don't have a good track record for Middle Eastern problems. America needs to stand with Israel. As Prime Minister Netanyahu and others emphasized, Iranians are now working globally. Iran's focus is not limited to the Middle East. They're aggressively working in our backyard in South America. They're also working to obtain ICBMs capable of delivering nuclear warheads to our shores. Iran is not just an Israeli problem -- it's also an American one.
** FRC's keyboards have been busy this week, as our experts continue to write and publish columns for outlets across the country. Ken Klukowski helped to break the news that Christian wedding photographer Elane Huguenin could take her case all the way to the Supreme Court in his new Breitbart piece, "Gay Marriage and Religious Liberty Collide." Senior Vice President Rob Schwarzwalder also offered a spiritual angle to our financial issues in a Washington Post column called, "God and the IRS: What the Bible Can Teach Us about Tax Policy." Last but not least, the duo of Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison co-authored an op-ed on the President's epic failures in Townhall, "Impeaching Himself, Period".
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.