While the media has rushed to pick apart policy proposals from Republican presidential candidates, not much attention has focused on Hillary Clinton’s positions — because she hasn’t staked out any. Even though she has campaigned for months, Hillary has avoided taking any positions at all until Saturday’s relaunch in Roosevelt Park. Even that speech was a laundry list of slogans rather than any serious commitments or policy proposals, more like a State of the Union speech and delivered with less aplomb and personality.
After some media criticism about the lack of substance, Team Hillary let the media know that her policies would roll out over the next few weeks. Spokesman Brian Fallon made it clear that we’d get buried in Clintonian euphemisms as a cover for a tax-hiking agenda, as the Washington Examiner’s Jason Russell reported:
Hillary Clinton’s press secretary promises tax hikes will be in her presidential campaign’s policy proposals, to be released this summer and fall. Rather than use the toxic phrase “tax hikes,” press secretary Brian Fallon disguised the coming proposals as “revenue enhancements.”
The promise came in a tweet Monday evening, reading “[email protected] We are rolling out major policy proposals over the summer/fall. Among those proposals will be revenue enhancements.”
Fallon was tweeting in response to criticism that Clinton’s proposal for universal preschool did not describe how the expensive program would be paid for, as pointed out the by the Washington Examiner‘s Philip Klein.
Of course, “revenue enhancements” is code for tax hikes. During the Bill Clinton administration, another code word for this was “broad-based contributions.”
Well, the Clinton Era had lots of euphemisms, and this was just one that impacted taxpayers directly. Besides, Hillary’s agenda will need lots and lots of new “revenue,” especially if she follows through on her plan to save ObamaCare from itself. She told the Des Moines Register that one of her domestic-agenda priorities will be to fix shortcomings in the Affordable Care Act:
Asked about the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, Clinton said that no matter which way the U.S. Supreme Court rules on federal subsidies, “I will be prepared to set forth what I would do.”
Clinton said that if the court does what she thinks it should do based on the law and the facts, “that would mean it would not rule in favor of the very contorted argument that is being made by the opponents to blow up the Affordable Care Act’s guarantee of coverage.”
Clinton said she will strongly defend the law. But over the course of her campaign, she’ll propose some fixes.
“About how to fix the family glitch, for example,” she said, which has excluded a number of low-income people with families from getting subsidies. “About how to deal with the high cost of deductibles that put such a burden on so many working families, and how to deal with the exploding cost of drugs, particularly the so-called specialty drugs.”
Those weren’t errors. They were deliberate choices made by Democrats to keep subsidy costs below a trillion dollars in the original CBO estimates. In my column today at The Fiscal Times, I remind readers, with the help of Chris Jacobs at America Next, of those choices — and what Hillary’s pledge will mean:
However, both the family glitch and the high deductibles were deliberate choices by Democrats in the ACA. Both were trade-offs to keep premiums low, and therefore minimize the cost of the subsidies. The former only came to light in 2013, just before the disastrous rollout of the Healthcare.gov exchange. Essentially, it boils down to the employer mandate to keep insurance plans affordable for employees, capping their contributions to 9.5 percent of income – but Congress deliberately didn’t extend that to family coverage. Workers who have access to such insurance through employers can’t qualify to buy subsidized insurance for their families in ACA exchanges.
That was a deliberate cost-cutting measure by Democrats, Chris Jacobs of America Next reminded Wall Street Journal readers. “To keep the total cost of insurance subsidies … under $1 trillion, lawmakers made numerous tough choices,” Jacobs recalls. They delayed the start of subsidized insurance for a year, and put curbs on levels of subsidies in the later years of the ACA’s first decade. “And Congress passed—whether lawmakers knew it or not—the “family glitch” provision.”
The need for higher deductibles was an even more explicit choice. Obamacare mandates higher risks for insurance pools, both in terms of eliminating barriers for pre-existing conditions and for preventive-care coverage. Insurers had to either hike premiums significantly to deal with the increased access or raise deductibles to force the costs back onto the consumer. The same tough choice that Jacobs notes in terms of holding subsidy costs below $1 trillion forced the Obama administration to pressure insurers into keeping premiums low, which meant either higher deductibles or bankruptcy. Anyone with even a passing understanding of risk pools could have easily predicted these outcomes. …
In the end, it may not matter what the Supreme Court decides on King v. Burwell. Democrats created a disaster far broader than the issue of subsidies in the federal exchange. The only solution Hillary and other Democrats have on the ACA are the massive tax hikes needed to fund the monster of government-mandated health insurance. Hillary can use all of the euphemisms for this she can find, but in the end Obamacare will bleed taxpayers dry.
Just as we predicted, ObamaCare turns out to be a disaster, and Democrats want to keep throwing your money away to double down on the bad bet. That’s what we can expect from a Hillary Clinton presidency, which is why we need to unwind the euphemisms and spell out the costs early and often.