Monday, July 8, 2013

Bad Example

It will be, or at least should be, astonishing if President Obama escapes the appellation of future historians as the most lawless president in this nation's history.

Any law he doesn't like he simply disregards and somehow he gets away with it. I can't imagine any other president, certainly no Republican president, flouting the law like Mr. Obama does without the media hounding him out of office.

His latest foray into rule by executive fiat is his decision to suspend anti-fraud measures built into the Affordable Care Act:
President Barack Obama’s health care requires that applicants applying for tax subsidies for health insurance prove that their income was somewhere between 100 percent to 400 percent of the federal poverty line. The bill also requires that applicants prove that they weren’t receiving employer-provided insurance.

But HHS decided last week to suspend these anti-fraud measures.

The administration will now “rely on self-reported data,” the Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein writes.

“You read that correctly. A man who earns $50,000 per year and gets insurance through his employer could log on to the new government website and say he earns $20,000 and gets no insurance through his employer, and the government would not even attempt to confirm that the information is accurate before forking over generous taxpayer subsidies,” Klein adds.

If you thought Medicare and Medicaid fraud was bad, wait until Obamacare goes into full effect sans its anti-fraud provisions.

True, as the Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff and Sandhya Somashekharand explain, anyone caught defrauding Obamacare could be fined up to $25,000 and be forced to “repay any excess subsidies they received.” But how are you going to catch them?

“With this news coming after the employer mandate delay announcement, the Obama administration has now openly conceded that it is in way over its head when it comes to implementing this unworkable law,” Klein notes.
The Affordable Care Act is the law, as regrettable as that may be, and we are, or should be, a nation of laws. Disregarding ACA's provisions is a violation of the presidential oath of office in which the president vows to uphold the Constitution and, by implication, the laws of the land. It would be as if Congress passed the Clean Air Act or the Civil Rights Act and a Republican president simply refused to enforce it.

In the wake of the president's announcement that he will suspend the employer mandate in Obamacare and now the announcement that he will suspend the requirement that income must be verified before subsidies are granted, how can any Republican member of Congress be expected to vote for any legislation advanced by the Democrat party given that no one knows whether any provisions in that legislation would ever be enforced by the executive? It seems to me that unless democrats win the House in 2014 no legislation will go anywhere in Congress for the next three years and that the only way Mr. Obama is going to get anything done is by executive dictat, just as is done in third-world banana republics.

Mr. Obama is setting a terrible example for American citizens by encouraging disrespect and disdain for the law. How many citizens will be tempted to rationalize to themselves that if the president can decide which laws to honor so can they, and commence their foray into lawlessness by lying about their income in order to receive insurance subsidies or by cheating on their taxes? If the president is seen as contemptuous of both the democratic process and the rule of law why should the average citizen feel any differently?

Pants on Fire

I'm currently reading a book on L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, and the picture it paints of the man is far from flattering. According to the author, Lawrence Wright, Hubbard was a compulsive, pathological liar. He embodied a number of other vices as well, but his lies were prodigious. He made up his life's story as he went along and lied to anyone about anything.

I thought of Hubbard's reflexive mendacities as I read a news story the other day that revealed that the State Department had been lying to us about Secretary John Kerry's whereabouts on the day that Egyptian armed forces were defenestrating the Muslim Brotherhood thug Mohammed Morsi.

Just in case there were one or two holdouts, like Japanese soldiers clinging to some Pacific atoll years after the war was over, who still believe that this administration can be trusted to tell the truth about anything here's the background:

CBS reported that on the day Mohammed Morsi was being ushered out of his office Secretary of State John Kerry was seen aboard his yacht in Nantucket.

On the surface, this seemed an inappropriate place for the Secretary of State to be reposing with matters of such moment unfolding in the Middle East, in fact it's reminiscent of President Obama's mysterious absence on the night of the Benghazi horror. So, the media asked the State Department spokeswomen, Jen Psaki, for a clarification of the Secretary's whereabouts on that historic day.

Ms Psaki was adamant that Secretary Kerry was definitely not aboard a boat on Wednesday and had spent the day working the phones on the Egyptian crisis:
“Since his plane touched down in Washington at 4 a.m., Secretary Kerry was working all day and on the phone dealing with the crisis in Egypt,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. “He participated in the White House meeting with the president by secure phone and was and is in non-stop contact with foreign leaders, and his senior team in Washington and Cairo. Any report or tweet that he was on a boat is completely inaccurate.”
Unfortunately for Ms Psaki, the CBS people had photographic evidence of Mr. Kerry's nautical preoccupations which forced the State Department to quickly undertake some awkward backing and filling:
As regime change was unfolding in Egypt, Secretary of State John Kerry spent time on his boat Wednesday afternoon in Nantucket Sound, the State Department acknowledged to CBS News on Friday, after repeatedly denying that Kerry was aboard any boat.

“While he was briefly on his boat on Wednesday, Secretary Kerry worked around the clock all day including participating in the President’s meeting with his national security council,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, naming a series of Egyptian and international officials Kerry had spoken with on Wednesday.

Psaki’s acknowledgment marked a stark reversal from previous denials that Kerry was on any boat whatsoever.

A “CBS This Morning” producer spotted Kerry on his boat Wednesday afternoon on Nantucket, where Kerry has a vacation home. When “CBS This Morning” senior producer Mosheh Oinounou tweeted about the sighting, Psaki issued a denial, calling the tweet “completely inaccurate” and said Kerry has been “working all day and on the phone dealing with the crisis in Egypt.”
I suppose Secretary Kerry could well have been monitoring developments in Cairo from his yacht. Where he was isn't really the point. The point is that his representative, Ms Psaki, chose to lie to us about where he was. It was as if the lie was automatic - ask her a question and, like a gumball machine, she pops out a completely fabricated reply as a matter of course.

Even State's clarification raises questions. If Kerry was on his boat in Nantucket for even part of the day how was he in Washington all day from 4 a.m. on? These people lie so facilely that one wonders if they tell the truth when they're just talking to each other.

If L. Ron Hubbard were alive today he'd be ideally suited for a job in the Obama administration.