Republican Hearings Just Asking Questions, Definitely Not Trying To Sabotage Obamacare, No, Never
The New Republic has discoveredwhat looks like a pretty neat bit of obstructionism aimed at slowing down and otherwise gum-uppening implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Now, this story is completely unrelated to the House's constant efforts to wish the ACA into the cornfield, or to shut down the entire government to stop the ACA, or to urge young people to avoid getting health insurance to stop the ACA and it's certainly unrelated to Georgia's Insurance Commissioner's promise to do "Everything in our power to be an obstructionist” when it comes to implementing the ACA. Doing those things would just be silly.
Last week, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent letters to at least some of the 105 organizations that, earlier this month, received federal grants to serve as “navigators” for Obamacare. Navigators are supposed to help educate people about their insurance options under the new law—by, for example, explaining who is eligible to buy insurance in the new exchanges, or how to use the online marketplaces once they are operating. In some cases, they will actually help people enroll in the new insurance plans.
But that's just Congress doing its Constitutional oversight duty, right? This couldn't possibly be anything other than good government, could it? Probably just coincidental that the exchanges are supposed to be up and running by October 1, and that the groups are being asked to submit hundreds of pages of documents...by September 13.
As New Republic's Jonathan Cohn points out,
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a congressional committee performing its oversight role, particularly when it comes to a law as complex as the Affordable Care Act. And the navigators deserve at least some scrutiny. Do they have all the training and information necessary to give people the right advice? Can they be trusted with personal information?
That's oversight, and that's part of Congress's job. Of course, the House committee's questions are a little bit more detailed. In an email to Cohn, William and Mary law professor Timothy Jost said that just one of the six questions sent by the committee could require an organization that's supposed to be gearing up to actually do its job as an ACA navigator to drop everything and comply with a request that asks for
hundreds of documents and emails [that] could take days to locate and compile. It might have been reasonable to ask them to describe what they do and how they intend to do it. This is a much more intrusive and extensive request. It is also important to note that most of these organizations are doing this on a comparative shoestring, and this is the busiest time in their existence ... even to have to take a day off to respond to this is too much. And the committee knows this. This is not about gathering information. It is about trying to stop a program.
Even Norm Ornstein, of the American Enterprise Institute, said that the request's
scope and the timing simply smell. Oversight would commonly mean that after a program has been implemented you look to see if it was done well and if there was fraud or malfeasance or misfeasance. This is intimidation and another effort at sabotage.
Golly. If House Republicans put half the effort into actually getting something done that they've put into trying to defund, delay, or simply ratfuck Obamacare to death, then they'd be able to...
Oh, sweet baby Jesus, maybe we should just be glad they're merely obstructionist assholes.
On the other hand, at least these "navigator" ACORNs aren't Tea Party people having to comply with all those Brownshirts at the IRS. Because that would be unconscionable.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.