Ted Cruz and High Stakes Texas Hold ‘Em
We're well into the 2nd week of the minimal government shut down, that seems to affect national parks and monuments disproportionately, and so far the blowback against Republicans has been less than advertised. Most voters haven't bought into either side's narrative and have collectively said, "a pox on both their houses."
In this high stakes game of Texas Hold 'Em Ted Cruz has been accused of leading Republicans down a "cul-de-sac" but I think there's is now a road to GOP political victory. For those unfamiliar with the game, Texas Hold 'Em is a style of poker in which each player is dealt two cards, face down. The dealer also deals two community cards, face up. It's a betting game in which the players are trying to make the best five-card hand possible using their cards in combination with any of the community cards. After each successive round of betting the dealer deals another community card, face up until there are five. Typically a player knows what his best hand is but since he doesn't see the other players "hole cards" he doesn't really know whether he can beat his opponents. That's where bluffing and knowledge of the game come into play.
Admittedly the Republicans seemed to have the weaker hand. After all, they only control one house of congress and the media is predictably on the side of President and Senate Democrats. Closing the government seemed like the mother of all bluffs and nobody was buying the idea that it could be a winner. But here's the thing, the same day the government shut down we began to see the cards the President is actually holding as the Obamacare exchange websites went live. Forget the technical difficulties, that's a distraction. The real news is that those people who are able to get through and get an actual quote for health insurance are being shocked by how expensive it is.
Selling a complex and expensive product on the internet is a difficult proposition. There's a science to it really. You have a funnel of potential consumers coming to your website and there are plenty of opportunities along the way to lose that customer's interest. The simpler you make the process, the more people will click through to purchase. But, like any purchase, the customer has to feel like he's making a good decision. So far it's becoming abundantly clear that those persistent individuals who get to the end of the process are not buying. Why? Because the product being sold is a loser.
Remember at the time of passage of the "Affordable Care Act" that there were an estimated 30 million uninsureds in the country. These were non-poor, non-elderly people, many of whom decided that health insurance wasn't worth the money. Sure there were people with pre-existing conditions, etc. but many were simply young and healthy workers who found the cost too burdensome and didn't see the benefit. You could argue that this is shortsighted on their part and I agree but last I checked there's no law against being dumb.
The dirty secret about the "Affordable Care Act" is that you can't add a bunch of sick people to the insurance rolls without raising everyone else's costs. The fact is, and it's been somewhat publicized, that Obama and the Democrats NEED young healthy workers to sign up to subsidize the sick and poorer people. And if these workers didn't see the value in health insurance BEFORE passage of the law, why would they see it now that the premiums are EVEN HIGHER? The answer is that they won't. Obama's two cards are losers. Super losers. The worst possible losing hand ever.
So here's my advice to Ted Cruz, John Boehner and the rest of the Congressional Republicans. Hold a press conference in which you announce that Republicans tried to get the president to negotiate on some of the more onerous and harmful aspects of the law he and the Democrats passed four years ago using the only leverage you had, the continued funding of the government, but that it's clear the President is no mood to compromise. So as to avoid continuing the stalemate the you are are folding their hand. Congratulations, Mr. President. You won.
The only thing is that the dealer is about to deal the next hand and guess what? Obama has to play the same bad cards he had before. The President's signature accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, is a lemon. The Democrats will rue the day they ran over established procedure to force and unpopular piece of legislation down American throats. Their entire strategy was based on the idea that once American's tasted this scheme that they'd love it. Wrong.
The rejection of government mandated insurance will be very, very strong. In just the last couple of days the media is finally beginning to realize what most people with the use of reason have known all along: that the "Affordable Care Act" was a leftist fantasy that could never work under any circumstances.
Submitted for your perusal, some links to newspaper articles, editorials and other media coverage from around the country:
From the San Francisco Chronicle
"Every plan is going to cost more than what I pay now. And what I pay now is ridiculous," said Ross, 47, who owns a cat-sitting business called Tales of the Kitty and pays more than $400 a month for her insurance. "It's a great thing for some people, but it's certainly not helping me."
From the San Jose Mercury News":
"I was laughing at Boehner -- until the mail came today," Waschura said, referring to House Speaker John Boehner, who is leading the Republican charge to defund Obamacare.
"I really don't like the Republican tactics, but at least now I can understand why they are so pissed about this. When you take $10,000 out of my family's pocket each year, that's otherwise disposable income or retirement savings that will not be going into our local economy."
“I want the person who makes $15,000 a year at McDonald’s to have health care coverage,” said Levy. “I just want to know why you have to double my insurance cost to make sure that person has it.”
Over the next 18 months, between one quarter and one half of Americans who get insurance coverage through their employers will pay more of their doctor bills themselves as companies roll out healthcare plans with higher deductibles, benefits consultants say. The result: sticker shock.
Why are things set to go so badly? Because the architects of the health-care exchanges have relied on three crucial assumptions, all of which are probably wrong.
From US News & World Report:
"These increases reflect one big ACA truth – younger, healthier Americans are required under Obamacare to overpay for their insurance so that older, sicker, and (by and large) wealthier Americans can underpay for their insurance."
Beyond the technical glitches, these plans don’t make financial sense for many individuals and families. It will make far more financial sense to buy a non-Obamacare compliant plan and pay the penalty tax. People will figure that out soon enough — and they won’t be happy about it.
This is another transfer of wealth from young, working people to older people. Of course, there are individuals who are helped by the act, but there seems to be far fewer than advertised. But Congress could have written a better plan that provides coverage to those who need it, while not socking millions of others with higher premiums. However that would have required Democrats to include Republicans in crafting the law. Hardball politics has a price. Unfortunately the American people, not the politicians, are paying it.
“I still don’t understand why individuals have to sign up and businesses don’t, because if the businesses — if she’s saying, ‘well, they get a delay because that doesn’t matter anyway because they already give health care,’ then you think to yourself, ‘fuck it, then why do they have to sign up at all,’” he said. “And then I think to myself, ‘well, maybe she’s just lying to me.’”