Obama’s Final Nail

Since this summer, the so-called Recovery Summer, the Obama administration has tripped, stumbled and fell right on its face.  Operation Gunrunner, Operation Fast & Furious, Solyndra, the Libyan debacle, invading Uganda, and now a hammer can be heard hammering in the final nail.  Obama has had to come out and admit that a major point of his healthcare plan is so flawed that it won’t work no matter how many different ways the numbers are manipulated.

At stake is the CLASS Act, a major new program intended to provide affordable long-term care insurance. Last Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the administration would not proceed with the plan because she has been unable to find a way to make the program financially solvent.

Late Senator Ted Kennedy had made this a primary priority.  In theory, it was a voluntary insurance plan that would be self-sustaining and open to all working adults.  No age requirements were added nor were health certificates.  However, it did required large numbers of healthy people signing up in their working years.  They would pay a monthly premium during their careers and when needed they would get a cash benefit of $50 a day.  That money could go for home services or help defray the cost of nursing home bills.

But a central design flaw dogged CLASS. Unless large numbers of healthy people willingly sign up during their working years, soaring premiums driven by the needs of disabled beneficiaries would destabilize it, eventually requiring a taxpayer bailout.

Now that it has been made clear that it is impossible to run this program, why in the world has the administration rejected repealing this provision?  This has created much confusion inside the beltway.  “I feel like somebody just called me about how to do really good pet care after they shot my dog,” said Larry Minnix, president of LeadingAge, a trade group representing non-profit nursing homes, which are strong supporters of CLASS.  By keeping this open, the CBO has no option other than raising the debt of Obama’s healthcare plan.

The only reason for keeping it structurally “alive” is to not alienate the elderly voters.  If Obama acknowledges this part is a failure, then the rest of the healthcare plan is open for rigorous scrutiny that it may not survive.  AARP, who has been moving decidedly left, can damage Obama’s re-election campaign with just one article in one of its magazines.  And since the seniors are the ones to lose if CLASS is cut, they can easily take their endorsement elsewhere.

This is another example of trying to make something look really good in a hurry so your base will “love” you.  However, as we know “haste makes waste” and that has certainly been true of Solydra, Operation Fast & Furious and now CLASS.  Obama so desperately wanted to prove that he was capable of leading the nation and creating jobs that he never bothered to see the consequences of all these little Potemkin ideas.  And as the reality of his myopia is becoming clear, voters are considering everything his says to be suspect.  There will be a “recovery summer.”  It will be the Summer of 2012 when all of us are working together to clean up this mess and rebuild our nation.  Get ready to roll up your sleeves, there will be A LOT of work to be done.



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