The Obama administration granted another 128 health-reform waivers in March. That brings to 1,168 the number of businesses and unions that will be exempted, for one year, from a requirement to provide $750,000 in annual benefits. Conservatives, noting that almost half of the new exemptions went to union groups, have accused President Obama of showing favoritism to his supporters. Democrats denied the charge, noting that plenty of big businesses have received waivers, while a disproportionate number of unions have been denied. Is Obama playing fair, or is he giving free passes to his political allies?
This is old-school D.C. backscratching: If health-care reform were really so great, says Abe Greenwald at Commentary, the president wouldn't need to grant "ObamaClemency" to so many people. The exemptions now cover 3 million members of Obama's base. "To call this more of the 'same old' cynical Washington back-scratch machine is to underestimate the extent of the damage taking place before our eyes."
"Three million and counting exempted from Obamacare"
Actually, there is no evidence of favoritism: Republicans say Obama is passing out waivers like candy to pro-Democrat unions, says Glenn Kessler in The Washington Post, but the facts just don't back up the "innuendo." For one thing, one of the "fiercest opponents" of Obama's health push was the National Restaurant Association, yet McDonald's, Jack in the Box, and other fast-food giants got waivers. So did small business, "another major foe."
"Are unions getting a ‘disproportionate’ break from the health care law?"
Obama is hoping favoritism equals reelection: Clearly, anybody with the right "connections" can get exempted from Obama's signature legislation, says Michelle Malkin at her blog. And buried in the latest disturbing news is that Health and Human Services is already plotting to grant more waivers in 2012 and 2013. "Let the pre-election favor-trading for future waivers begin."
"Shhh: HHS grants more Obamacare waivers, considers new 2012-2013 scheme"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The mystery behind China's aggressive push into space
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Yes, Republicans can impeach President Obama
- The 5 best and worst states for a well-lived life
- What religious traditionalists can teach us about sex
- Why Texas' abortion rates aren't falling as quickly as everyone expected
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- The 6 best low-cost smartphones
- The NFL is terrified of the culture war
Subscribe to the Week