Feel­ing the pain and as­sign­ing the blame

Rather than bail out Oba­macare, Repub­li­cans must pre­pare their al­ter­na­tive

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion - By Robert Knight

When Bill Clin­ton jumps off the bus over em­bar­rass­ing pre­var­i­ca­tions, you know it’s get­ting se­ri­ous. The for­mer pres­i­dent’s re­buke last week of Pres­i­dent Obama for re­peat­edly ly­ing to Amer­i­cans that they could keep their health insurance poli­cies un­der Oba­macare shows that the Come­back Kid still has an acute abil­ity to feel our pain. Also, that he’s pre­pared to throw any­one un­der the bus in or­der to get back into the White House be­hind Hil­lary’s skirt.

There is rich irony in a sit­ting pres­i­dent be­ing lec­tured for his lies by a pre­de­ces­sor known mainly for cheat­ing on his wife and pondering aloud the mean­ing of the word “is.”

It was enough to prod the cur­rent White House occupant to ad­mit Thurs­day that he “fum­bled” the roll­out and might not have been as well in­formed about his plan as he would have liked. Some­one should have told him that he was ly­ing.

The most strik­ing part of his news con­fer­ence, how­ever, was the an­nounce­ment that he was uni­lat­er­ally sus­pend­ing enough of the plan so that peo­ple could keep their cur­rent (or just can­celed) insurance poli­cies for another year. Re­ally? We are once again a free peo­ple, able to con­tract our own cov­er­age? But only for another year?

How did we get to the point where one man has this kind of dic­ta­to­rial power over his fel­low Amer­i­cans? The Con­sti­tu­tion’s Ar­ti­cle II, Sec­tion 2 re­quires the pres­i­dent to “take care that the laws be faith­fully ex­e­cuted” — not just the ones he likes at any given mo­ment. This pres­i­dent not only ig­nores laws, but makes them up as he goes along, since “we can’t wait” for Congress to act.

He can­not legally ig­nore en­forc­ing the insurance as­pect of Oba­macare any more than he can sus­pend the em­ployer man­date with­out con­gres­sional ap­proval. Yet, he has done both with im­punity.

For their part, cer­tain clue­less Repub­li­cans are try­ing to save the Amer­i­can peo­ple from the Democrats’ folly by of­fer­ing a leg­isla­tive fix be­hind which fright­ened Democrats could hide. The prospect of chang­ing the GOP’s sta­tus from peren­nial, gra­cious losers to a party hold­ing four aces might just be too daunt­ing.

As Oba­macare im­plodes, all sorts of peo­ple are scram­bling for safety. It isn’t just the six Demo­cratic se­na­tors who voted for Oba­macare and are up for re-elec­tion in 2014 in states that Mitt Rom­ney car­ried. It’s Cal­i­for­nia’s Dianne Fe­in­stein, who isn’t up un­til 2018, but is get­ting an ear­ful from the more than 1 mil­lion Cal­i­for­ni­ans who have seen their health insurance poli­cies dis­ap­pear.

If I were a paid Repub­li­can ad­viser — and you know I’m not be­cause I’m not col­lect­ing mil­lions of dol­lars for show­ing them new ways to lose by “mov­ing to­ward the center” — I would ad­vise them to do two things.

First, get out of the way. You have no fin­ger­prints on this. Not a sin­gle Repub­li­can in ei­ther house voted for Oba­macare, some­one for not get­ting some­thing that isn’t avail­able. That’s ex­actly what the gov­ern­ment does with cel­lu­losic ethanol.

Since there is none com­mer­cially avail­able, Congress lav­ished $1.5 bil­lion at com­pa­nies will­ing to try to de­velop it. Sev­eral tried; all failed.

Cello En­ergy Corp. of Alabama, for ex­am­ple, was sup­posed to pro­duce 70 mil­lion gal­lons, but the com­pany went bank­rupt in 2010 with­out pro­duc­ing a drop. At least Solyn­dra was ac­tu­ally mak­ing so­lar pan­els.

In 2011, the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA) re­duced its cel­lu­losic ethanol tar­get from 250 mil­lion gal­lons to 6.6 mil­lion, and later re­duced its 2012 goal from 500 mil­lion gal­lons to 8.6 mil­lion — a re­duc­tion of more than 98 per­cent.

It didn’t help be­cause there was still no com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion in 2012.

None­the­less, just be­cause there was no cel­lu­losic ethanol for oil re­fin­ers to mix with gaso­line didn’t stop the EPA from fin­ing them $8 mil­lion for not do­ing so.

Aren’t you glad the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion doesn’t use that kind of logic with re­spect to buy­ing health insurance? Oh, wait ... . The re­fin­ing in­dus­try filed suit against the EPA to stop the penalty, and last Jan­uary a fed­eral judge agreed.

There’s more. The gov­ern­ment keeps rais­ing the amount of re­new­able fuel to be used each year, even though U.S. gaso­line con­sump­tion has been flat. The only way to achieve that goal is to put more ethanol in each gal­lon of gas, so the EPA has pro­posed rais­ing the “blend wall” from 10 per­cent ethanol in our gaso­line to 15 per­cent.

Car man­u­fac­tur­ers, though, are com­plain­ing that “E15” is too rich for older car en­gines and could ruin them, which the gov­ern­ment seems to deny.

Last week, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion re­lented on both health care and ethanol. On Thurs­day, the pres­i­dent post­poned the insurance man­date for a year. On Fri­day, the EPA pro­posed its first-ever cut in the ethanol re­quire­ment, from the man­dated 18 bil­lion gal­lons to about 15 bil­lion, and to keep the cel­lu­losic bio­fuel re­quire­ment be­tween 8 mil­lion and 30 mil­lion gal­lons. Of course, both are only tem­po­rary fixes.

If all of this sounds a lot like the gov­ern­ment’s ef­fort to im­pose Oba­macare, that’s be­cause it is. Some politi­cians and bu­reau­crats have a vi­sion they want to im­pose on the rest of us — for our own good. Just be­cause their sys­tem is im­prac­ti­cal, costly and doesn’t work — or may even cause us harm — is not a suf­fi­cient rea­son from them not to im­pose that vi­sion, and pe­nal­ize us if we don’t sub­mit.

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