Crony capitalism at its most basic. Create onerous regulations and then give out exemptions to allies and constituents. The only wrinkle in this case is that the demographic subsection unburdening itself of ObamaCare is the same demographic subsection that has been most pointedly exuberant in advocating health care reform, with California Democrats even passing symbolic health care laws just like the ones that their most liberal supporters are now opting out of.
On the federal level, of course, Former House speaker Nancy Pelosi was instrumental in securing ObamaCare’s passage. And now, for a disproportionate number of businesses in Pelosi’s San Francisco district, ObamaCare is not their problem, not any more. As if having entire states get waivers wasn’t enough of a debacle, now there’s this nonsense. The process is making the original passage of ObamaCare, which the President himself admitted was insufficiently transparent, seem like a model of good governance:
Of the 204 new Obamacare waivers President Barack Obama’s administration approved in April, 38 are for fancy eateries, hip nightclubs, and decadent hotels in Pelosi’s district. These are in addition to the 27 new waivers for health care or drug companies and the 31 new union waivers Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services approved. Other common waiver recipients were labor union chapters, large corporations, financial firms, and local governments. But Pelosi’s district’s waivers are the first major examples of luxurious, gourmet restaurants, and hotels getting a year-long pass from ObamaCare.
The Daily Caller does a nice job covering the kinds of businesses in question. These are not exemplars of populist simplicity. The phrases “four-diamond luxury in the heart of the city” and “timeless Parisian style brasserie” come up. An ungenerous critic might even tag the entire spectacle as unseemly limousine liberalism, with San Francisco Democrats getting to retreat into four-diamond luxury while restaurants that cater to everyone else collapse under ObamaCare’s weight. Presumably those restaurants’ former customers can just eat at home from now on.
Still unanswered: whether waivers run afoul of Sheila Jackson Lee’s insistence that an ObamaCare repeal would be unconstitutional on 5th and 14th amendment grounds. “Must I die, must my child die, because I am now disallowed from getting insurance,” Ms. Jackson Lee asked from the floor of Congress, reasoning that not mandating employer coverage was equivalent to “taking away rights.” And if waivers do constitute Equal Protection violations, will the Justice Department be pursuing cases against the Department of Health and Human Services? Seriously. If we’re going to get stupid about this, let’s at least be consistently stupid.