Will Obama's newest “if you like it you can keep it” offer for health insurance really let Americans get their canceled plans back?
No. And the president knows it.
The proposal was rushed out on Thursday for two purposes: to give Congressional Democrats cover today before a vote in the House and shift the blame to others. As will be explained shortly, Obama ignored that there is no way for insurance companies to ignore the current law as it stands.
Unfortunately, the problem won’t be limited to the five percent of Americans that Obama claimed on Thursday. Over the next year, at least a total of 129 million Americans will find that they can't keep their current policies as employer-based insurance policies face renewal.
Obama's "solution" to people losing their policies is to promise he will not enforce part of the ObamaCare law for one year.
In other words, since the reason why insurance policies are being canceled and premiums are soaring is because existing policies that don't comply with the new law are banned, just don’t enforce those provisions of the law during 2014.
The president warned that despite his promise, people still might not get their old insurance policies back, but he also made it clear that it would not be his fault.
It would be the fault of state insurance commissioners or those greedy insurance companies. But as he must know, even under the most ideal circumstances the regulatory maze companies face don't allow new policies to be issued quickly. In addition, some insurance companies have already closed up business in a number of states.
But there is a more fundamental problem: The insurance companies would still be breaking the law, and Obama can’t guarantee that a future president won’t punish insurance companies for violating the ObamaCare law.
Selectively not enforcing laws has become a hallmark of the Obama administration. The president has used it when it comes to laws being broken by illegal aliens.
A future president might take the oath to uphold the laws more seriously and start enforcing them again but, in the interim, illegal aliens don’t have to worry about being deported.
It simply doesn't work the same way for insurance companies.
President Obama could also tell companies that he won’t enforce the anti-trust or fraud laws next year, but if they break the law, they are still at risk. Telling a future president that Obama said it was okay won’t protect them from legal liability.
Of course, all these people losing their policies shouldn't be a surprise to anyone -- indeed, forcing people out of their old policies and into the ObamaCare exchanges was the whole point of the law.
The goal was never to “protect” consumers from so-called “subpar” policies. If only people in poor health joined the exchanges, premiums would be extremely high.
As one of the architects of ObamaCare, Jonathan Gruber, explained this week: the whole point of ObamaCare has been to raise the premiums of those who have been "genetic winners" as well as the young to subsidize those who are sick or old.
Selectively picking parts of ObamaCare to enforce is all about the next election. ObamaCare might require the employer mandate start on January 1st, 2014, but it is pretty obvious that will throw off tens of millions of more Americans off their insurance policies.
Many millions of Americans will also be forced to become part-time workers so as to allow firms to get around the mandates. Putting off that mandate until January 1st, 2015, right after the next election, let’s Democrats escape that disaster.
ObamaCare might mandate that there is a cap on out-of-pocket health care payments starting on January 1st, 2014, but that rule will clearly increase insurance premiums. And given the sticker shock that Americans are already facing from higher premiums, Obama decided that still higher premiums should also be put off until after the next election.
Obama's Wednesday press conference was filled with false claims from the number of people who have actually signed up for ObamaCare to lies about insurance companies.
But the lies that worked so well in getting ObamaCare passed depend on people trusting the messenger and most Americans now believe Obama “tried to deceive” them about ObamaCare.
John R. Lott, Jr. is a columnist for FoxNews.com. He is an economist and was formerly chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission. Lott is also a leading expert on guns and op-eds on that issue are done in conjunction with the Crime Prevention Research Center. He is the author of eight books including "More Guns, Less Crime." His latest book is "Dumbing Down the Courts: How Politics Keeps the Smartest Judges Off the Bench" Bascom Hill Publishing Group (September 17, 2013). Follow him on Twitter@johnrlottjr.