- - Monday, March 7, 2011

Obamacare is living on borrowed time, and even its most ardent supporters are beginning to realize it. That’s why they’re racing to implement - and entrench - as much of the plan as possible before the laws of economics and the laws of the land and voters catch up. They’re like a deadbeat renter starting a remodeling project after being evicted but before the police escort them from the premises in hopes that it gives them squatter’s rights. Meanwhile, two unrelated but devastating events have caused the ground to shake beneath the feet of Obamacare supporters.

A major component of Obamacare is “totally unsustainable.” Those aren’t the words of Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin; no, those belong to the Obama administration’s own chief cheerleader, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee. The program in question, the CLASS Act or Community Living Assistance Services and Support Act, is a massive long-term elderly care entitlement program that was quietly tucked into Obamacare and never got anywhere near the attention it deserves.

Sen. Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat, called the CLASS Act “a Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing that Bernie Madoff would have been proud of.” And then he voted for it. I suspect Bernie Madoff would be proud of Kent Conrad. The White House’s sleight of hand goes like this: CLASS Act taxes begin in Year 1 but the benefits don’t begin until Year 6, so when 10 years of revenues and five years of expenses were calculated, the Congressional Budget Office declared not only that the CLASS Act paid for itself but, as a result, Obamacare overall would reduce the deficit. However, when 10 years of revenues and expenses are counted - even accepting the White House’s rosy scenario projections - the CLASS Act goes billions into the red and Obamacare itself raises rather than reduces the deficit.

Mrs. Sebelius agrees with the Medicare chief actuary that the program “is at a significant risk for failure” with or without the accounting gimmick but - channeling the spirit of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez - she claims the law gives her “administrative flexibility” to bypass Congress and the American voters and rewrite the law to her liking. Such power.

In separate testimony last week, the HHS secretary admitted to double-counting Obamacare’s cooked books. The question posed was whether a $500 billion cut in Medicare should be counted toward preserving Medicare or funding the new law. Her own actuary previously acknowledged they must choose one or the other. Mrs. Sebelius’ reply? “Both.”

Several hundred miles away in Florida, federal Judge Roger Vinson dealt yet another blow to Mr. Obama’s health care crown jewel. It was Judge Vinson, of course, who in January declared Obamacare to be unconstitutional. Many from the victorious 26 states that brought the lawsuit have sought to expedite final resolution of the case in the Supreme Court, but the White House has resisted with hopes of delaying their day of reckoning. Instead, the best and the brightest lawyers in the administration opted to request clarification from Judge Vinson regarding his ruling and its effect on implementation. If there’s one thing a squatter knows, it’s how to stall.

It would be understandable for Judge Vinson to take exception to this tactic since he had already declared quite clearly that “the award of declaratory relief is adequate and separate injunctive relief is not necessary.” In other words, once a law is declared unconstitutional, the only option is to stop implementing it.

This week, the White House was smacked with a painful lesson: Be careful what you wish for. Judge Vinson interpreted the administration’s request for clarification as a request to stay his own ruling and he granted it - with a big catch. Judge Vinson, saying “the citizens of this country have an interest in having this case resolved as soon as practically possible,” has given the White House exactly one week to request that the case be expedited to the appellate court or the Supreme Court or halt Obamacare implementation.

Regrettably, Judge Vinson stopped short of demanding a complete injunction, which not only would have achieved his goal of expediting the case to the Supreme Court but also would have saved taxpayers billions of dollars in the meantime. Still, the administration’s bluff has been called.

In case the White House is still unclear, let me offer them the clarification they seek: Get this case to the Supreme Court now and, unless you do, stop spending billions we don’t have on an unconstitutional law.

Obamacare may be the crowning achievement of the big-government crowd erecting their ever-expanding entitlement state, but the laws of economics and the laws of the land are racing to see which will take it down first - that is, if the voters don’t beat them to it. Even its most ardent supporters call the plan “a Ponzi scheme” and “totally unsustainable” and its date with Supreme Court destiny is about to be fast-tracked.

Obamacare is a skipping stone careening along the water’s surface, but the laws of gravity - like the laws of economics and the laws of the land - will always win.

Dr. Milton R. Wolf, a Washington Times columnist, is a board-certified diagnostic radiologist and President Obama’s cousin. He blogs at miltonwolf.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide