At the risk of trivializing the task before the federal government, allow me to quote Tracy Marrow, the bard of rap and the gritty street cop of “Law and Order: SVU,” better known as Ice-T:
“The truth is, everybody I’ve ever met who’s successful is a workaholic.”
So now I ask you: When it comes to Congress and the Obama administration, does the word “workaholic” immediately leap to mind?
Hell, no. That’s not to say Congress and Team Obama are lazy, but they don’t work hard enough in preparation, or in finding common ground, to consistently find success. That’s why everyone ought to worry how our federal government will cope with matters that require attention this fall.
Here’s what’s on our plate as a nation:
— Obamacare exchanges begin selling insurance Oct. 1, and they are nowhere near ready for prime time. It’s a crap shoot whether the government can get millions of uninsured people to sign up and pay for their own health care. If that fails, the law doesn’t pencil out.
— Before Oct. 1, hammer out a stop-gap funding plan to keep the federal government open and running.
— Increase the debt ceiling by November to allow the U.S. Treasury to continue financing the government’s budget deficits.
— And finally, before January, Congress must again (as it has for the past 10 years) eliminate the 30 percent cut in Medicare payments required under current law as part of spending cuts.
Anyone feel good about President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner getting all that done? Even if they were willing to put in the work (golf, anyone?), the politics of the moment spell doom.
We have a dithering White House trying to salvage the Syria debacle. Democrats in the Senate hold only a slim majority and are showing no appetite for compromise.
Republicans in the House find themselves divided between a conservative approach to fiscal get-along and the Tea Party’s growing preference to blow everything up and start over again.
This has “massive pileup” written all over it.
Even Obamacare supporters, like Warren Buffett, see the dangers ahead.
We need “something else,” Buffett says.
“Attack the costs first, and then worry about expanding coverage,” he said last week. “I would much rather see another plan that really attacks costs. And I think that’s what the American public wants to see. I mean, the American public is not behind this bill.”
Brothers and sisters, he’s not kidding about the unpopularity of ObamaCare.
A recent poll reported that, by a 2-to-1 ratio, Americans favor delaying the individual mandate — the part of the law that taxes citizens who do not purchase government-approved health insurance. That’s the foundation of Obamacare.
We knew Obamacare had the potential for unintended consequences. The erosion of the 40-hour work week is the worst of them all. Obamacare actually encourages employers to convert full-time jobs into part-time jobs as much as possible.
Finally, big unions jumped into the fray. Once huge supporters of Obamacare, they began to recognize the perverted incentive for part-time work and the provision that deems union health care plans “rich” under Obamacare and therefore subject to a steep “Cadillac” tax. But instead of calling for scrapping Obamacare, or at least calling for a significant delay in implementation to rework it, Big Labor audaciously demanded government grant them an exemption. The Obama administration reportedly responded by offering union workers a subsidy. That’s no answer.
If we try to move forward now, Obamacare will damage the private insurance market, incentivize the end of employer-based health coverage, make part-time work the new normal and generally lessen the quality of health care in America.
The sane bet is to delay Obamacare implementation, or as Warren Buffett advocates, scrap it and come up with “something else.”
Sherman Frederick, former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and a member of the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame, writes a column for Stephens Media. Read his blog at www.reviewjournal.com/blogs-columns/sherman-frederick.