Tough Sledding for Holiday Health Care Push
What's the difference between Christmas and ObamaCare? Christmas involved wise men. And after the last month and a half, most Americans are pretty certain that the health care rollout did not. Still, the President is convinced that the holiday season is the perfect time to spread peace, goodwill, and socialized medicine to all. As part of his Organizing for America (OFA) outreach, the White House is launching a new program called "Healthcare for the Holidays," encouraging "family, friends and neighbors to have the one-on-one conversations that are crucial to getting people enrolled."
The effort, which includes a series of ads, videos, and even images, urges shoppers to add health care coverage to their list. (If you thought Grammy's fruitcake was bad, wait until you unwrap ObamaCare!) In one of its special Christmas graphics, OFA even tries writing its own jingle: "The best way to spread holiday cheer is by talking about health care this time of year." But so far, there's no rhyme -- and certainly no reason -- for Americans to embrace (let alone trust) the health care policies that have already forced five million people to lose theirs.
Last week, the President tried to find his way back into the country's affections by unlawfully declaring that people can hang on to their insurance plans for another year -- even if they don't meet the law's standards. But instead of quieting the chaos, the announcement created more. "To make a possible change like this now will only cause more confusion and compound the problem that the Affordable Care Act is causing," said David Isenstadt, one of the many brokers frustrated by the White House's decision to put the burden squarely in the insurance industry's lap.
Regardless of what the President says, extending canceled policies isn't exactly the cake walk the administration makes it out to be. Unlike Washington, which isn't known for its long-term planning (see budget debate, 2013), insurance companies have already set their plans and premiums for the next year. "Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers," warned the CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans. Some state commissioners -- like Washington's Mike Kreidler -- flat-out refused the President's extension.
D.C. Commissioner William White never had a chance to turn down the administration's unworkable "accommodation." One day after publicly criticizing the year-long "fix," White was fired. Although District Mayor Vincent Gray didn't openly link his statement to his dismissal, White told the press it wasn't difficult to connect the dots. "Anyone who looks at this can draw their own conclusions. My statement came out on Thursday, and by Friday [at] 4:15 I was out." He, like so many involved in the exchanges, insisted that the President's "grace period" "undercut the purpose of the exchanges, including the District's D.C. Health Link, by creating exceptions that make it more difficult for them to operate."
The industry's irritation is starting to mirror the rest of America's, as the poll numbers continue to tell the story of an angry and betrayed electorate. Higher costs, fewer doctors, canceled policies, marriage penalties, abortion subsidies, and conscience violations are all taking their toll on the public's first impressions of the health care law. According to the latest Reuter's poll, a whopping 59% of Americans now oppose ObamaCare -- up three points from the end of September. On the bright side, the law is curing people of one thing: government reliance. Just 42% now think health insurance is the government's responsibility, Gallup revealed -- down from 69% in 2006.
If You Like ObamaCare, You'll Love ObamaCore!
Is it even possible these days to name a U.S. Cabinet head not embroiled in a messy public scandal or controversy? The Treasury (IRS targeting), HHS (ObamaCare), Justice (the list is long enough to culminate in possible impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Eric Holder), Defense (anti-Christian extremism), State (Benghazi), and Energy (Solyndra) Departments were already fighting off the negative PR when Education Secretary Arne Duncan joined the party. In what may be a finalist for the most ridiculous things this administration has said, Duncan told a gathering of state education experts that the people opposed to his Common Core State Standards were mostly "white suburban moms who -- all of the sudden -- [discovered that] their child isn't as bright as they thought they were, and their school isn't quite as good as they thought they were."
The careless remarks only threw gasoline on an already explosive debate over the government takeover of education. Although Duncan later apologized for his "clumsy" phrasing, his comments reflect the absolute arrogance of Washington-- that government knows best. As the research shows, family structure and parental presence and involvement drive educational outcomes -- not D.C. bureaucrats. Most parents want better educational outcomes, but those outcomes aren't limited to passing a government-imposed test. Increasingly, parents are realizing that the very moral foundation that provides the opportunity for success in life is being undermined by the very educational system that claims to be the key to it.
I spoke to parents yesterday that participated in the "National Don't Send Your Child To School Day" aimed at a local school in Louisiana, which happens to be in the top three for academic performance in the state. (By the way, all of the top performing schools are independent or community schools where the parents and community are involved.) But these parents' growing concern is not over the educational outcomes -- as important as they are -- it's over the increasingly liberal, un-American, anti-Christian propaganda that's masquerading as curriculum.
No doubt under the Obama administration (which is repeatedly marked by comments like Duncan's), there's a distrust of anything that flows down the Potomac, but the opposition to Common Core goes deeper than almost anything I've seen. When I spoke in Louisiana about our recent trip to Israel and the issues surrounding the Middle East, a large portion of the questions were still focused on Common Core.
This past weekend, Baton Rouge's meeting on Common Core drew parents in opposition to the government program from across the state. According to attendees, the discussion was populated by an impressive group of professional women, doctors, lawyers, and others who were extremely concerned -- not about the high testing standards -- but the corresponding issues of curriculum, liberal reading lists, information collection, and so on. As parents, we cannot be reminded often enough that God gave us both the authority and the responsibility to train up our children. Moms and dads must not forget that we, not the local school district or the homeroom teacher, will be the ones God holds accountable that our children were not only taught how to make a living, but how to live (Deuteronomy 6).
** Just how disastrous is Common Core? FRC's Bob Morrison paints a frightening picture in his thoughtful analysis of the President's latest education push. Don't miss his piece, "Like ObamaCare? You'll Love ObamaCore," on the FRCBlog.
*** The President may have rebuffed the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, but FRC celebrated the iconic speech with a lecture by Dr. Daniel Dreisbach, Professor of Public Affairs for American University. Check out the video below.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.