Friday, November 15, 2013

Guest Post: Who Caused The Government “Shutown?” The Link To The Affordable Care Act

Who Caused The Government “Shutown?” The Link To The Affordable Care Act
Samuel L. Skogstad, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus (Economics)

Much print has been dedicated to the question “who caused the government shutdown in October 2013?” Very little of it, however, can be considered objective analysis. Journalists friendly to President Obama still refer to it as “the Republicans’ shutdown of the government .” Some Republicans, surprisingly, seem to accept the “blame,” and to portray it as a principled stand against left-wing extremism. Other Republicans, also accepting the blame, appear to believe that, since President Obama and Senator Reid refused to negotiate or even discuss any compromise, Republicans should have accepted every word of the bill preferred by the majority Democrats.

To reiterate a point made in an earlier note, the “shutdown” occurred because no budget law was approved by the House, the Senate and the President. Ordinarily, when there is a strong conflict of  that kind, all three would meet and negotiate an agreement that gave something to each side. But in this case, the President and Senator Reid, flatly refused to take that path. Thus as a technical legislative matter, it was the Whitehouse and the Senate that prevented passage of a budget bill, thereby shutting down the government---sort of.

Events since the shutdown have shown with total clarity that “Obamacare” was not competently crafted. Millions of previously–insured Americans have received letters cancelling their health insurance. Large blocks of people have seen their rates rise dramatically. Many physician groups have  decided that they will switch to “concierge” practices, requiring their patients to pay multiple thousands of dollars annually in addition to whatever reimbursement they receive from Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance. The Obamacare website is substantially dysfunctional. Many of these glaring flaws were known by the Obama Administration far ahead of the roll-out (though President Obama claims  that he was not personally aware of the flaws.)

The disastrous roll-out of “Obamacare” leaves no room for doubt that, at the time of what should have been budget negotiations, nothing could have been more important than focusing sharply on problems of “Obamacare,” clearly a major item in the federal budget. Is it plausible to believe that only  Republicans knew it was a looming disaster? In this observers opinion, that is not at all plausible. If I  am right, what honorable motive could have induced the Democrats to prohibit any public dialogue or discussion of the program? It appears that the only motive was to rub the Republicans’ noses in their failure get Democrats to the negotiating table. This is a case of incompatibility of the public interest with the purely political interest of the White House. How tragic! And how many hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars could have been saved by taking time to fix the flaws, rather that to go back now and try to remedy the disaster?

Note: Dr. Skogstad is a blog reader and brother Marine. ~Bob

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