On May 7th, it was revealed that the Obama administration spent $8.35 billion on a “demonstration project” designed to postpone the vast majority of Obamacare’s Medicare Advantage cuts until after the election. On July 31st, it was revealed that the Labor Department warned defense contractors against notifying workers of impending layoffs before the election as well, despite the fact that it would require violating the law to do so. On September 21, it was revealed that a report on the Greek bailout will also be postponed until after the U.S. election. On September 13th, Fed Chief Ben Bernanke announced that he will be pursuing a third round of Quantitative Easing (QE3), once again under the auspices of “stimulating” the economy. The over-arching theme here is clear: anything that constitutes an “inconvenient reality” for this president, especially with respect to economics, will be delayed until after the election.
Thus, the president can continue to campaign on the “heartless” cuts a Romney administration will administer to healthcare in general, and seniors’ healthcare in particular, even as those same seniors remain oblivious to the reality that $7.4 billion will be cut from the Medicare Advantage program in 2013. As a result, enrollees will lose an average of $515 in benefits. Americans remain equally oblivious to the reality that family health insurance premiums have gone up by an average $2,730, despite a 2008 promise Obama made to lower premiums by $2500 by the end of his first term.
With respect to layoffs of employees who work in the defense industry, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act is quite clear: employers are required to give employees 60 days notice before mass layoffs take place. As a result of the failure of the congressional super-committee to reach a budget deal during the debt ceiling negotiations last August, automatic cuts in defense spending, aka sequestration, are scheduled to kick in on January 2nd. If the WARN Act were enforced, thousands of defense employees would receive their layoff notices on November 3rd–three days before the election.
Enter the Labor Department, which released new “guidelines” on July 30th, in which the rationale for delaying the notices is the idea that “[A]lthough it is currently known that sequestration may occur, it is also known that efforts are being made to avoid sequestration. Thus even the occurrence of sequestration is not necessary foreseeable.” As a result it “would be inappropriate” to notify the affected workers. That would be the same Department of Labor which previously concluded it had “no administrative or enforcement responsibility under [the WARN Act]” and “cannot provide specific advice or guidance with respect to individual situations.” Apparently when there’s an election at stake, anything is possible, even if the rule of law is tossed aside in the process.
With respect to Greece and the rest of the European Union, keeping the welfare state scheme from imploding is a task becoming more daunting with each passing day. The Daily Mail reveals that Greece’s debt is double what that nation had previously claimed, standing at a staggering $25 billion. Greece denied the report, and the resulting disagreement had the desired effect: despite the European Commission wanting a final decision on a Greek bailout to take place at the next EU summit on October 18th and 19th, Germany insists that reliable figures needed to determine the next move won’t be available “until November.” Undoubtedly that means November 7th at the earliest.
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