Buzzfeed's Ben Smith: 'Obama Prepares To Screw His (Young) Base' -- As If It Hasn't Been Happening for Years

Buzzfeed's Ben Smith, who used to toil at Politico, must be blind in one eye and can't see out of the other.

In what appears to be a sudden revelation in his column ("Obama Prepares To Screw His Base") on ObamaCare's harsh treatment of young people, Smith notes how they "will pay disproportionately for ObamaCare." What this really represents is something which alarmed those who studied the bill both before and after its passage in March 2010. In other words, people who follow these things closely have known about this situation for years. But course, it has fallen on deaf, deliberately ignorant, or deliberately negligent establishment press ears. Thus, most low-information voters don't know what's coming. Beyond that, Smith acts as if the Obama administration hasn't been shafting young people ever since Barack Obama took his first oath of office in January 2009, when it has been doing so in a variety of ways on a daily basis. Excerpts from Smith's somnambulance, wherein he actually tries to blame Sarah Palin for what's coming, follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):

President Obama's enemies often accuse him, in the starkest political terms, of crudely acting to shift resources toward his political base: Green energy donors; single women; Latinos; African-Americans.

But the next 12 months are likely to reveal the opposite. Imminent elements of Obama's grandest policy move, the health care overhaul known as ObamaCare, are calculated to screw his most passionate supporters and to transfer wealth to his worst enemies.

The passionate supporters are the youth, who voted for him by a margin of 60% to 36%, according to exit poll samples of people 29 and under. His enemies are the elderly: Mitt Romney won 56% of the votes from people 65 and over. And while one of ObamaCare's earliest provisions was a boon to the young, allowing them to stay on their parents' insurance through the age of 26, what follows may come as an unpleasant surprise to many of the president's supporters. The provisions required to make any sort of health insurance plan work — not just ObamaCare, but really any plan of its sort — require healthy young people to pay more in health insurance than they consume in services, while the elderly (saved by Sarah "Death Panels" Palin from any serious attempt to ration expensive and often futile end-of-life care) consume far more than they pay in. There is always a push and pull, however, and this year will be spent laying plans to shift the burden further toward the young.

Gosh, I didn't realize that Sarah Palin was successful in drumming up enough public support to remove the politically insulated Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) from the final version of ObamaCare.

That's because she didn't. The IPAB is in there, ready to ration care at the first sign of financial stress in the healthcare system, as Dr. Jane Orient explained in a Washington Times column almost a year ago:

The worst part about the Independent Payment Advisory Board is the absolute power that is vested in an unaccountable 15-member oligarchy. If there ever was an unconstitutional delegation of power, this would be it. But there is no point in investing years and millions of dollars in taking the board’s decisions to the Supreme Court. Congress has ruled out any review of its diktats, either administrative or judicial.

... What makes the Independent Payment Advisory Board or its equivalent a death panel is not constraints on what Medicare may pay, but the ban on balance billing or private payment.

I disagree with Dr. Orient to an extent, because I think that "constraints on what Medicare may pay" is a larger problem and does tie into "death panels." There will be nothing to stop IPAB from dictating permissible and prohibited age-based treatments. Once in place, doctors won't perform them, period, even if they might have done so previously, because they or the hospitals and practices at which they work will risk sanctions if they do, even if the patient and their family wants them done and has the money up-front to pay for it.

Back to Smith:

The first is the individual mandate, which aims to force the young, childless, and healthy — "Young Invincibles," as they are said to think of themselves — to buy heath insurance, even if they think (and even perhaps make a rational, if risky, bet) that they don't need it.

The second is a lesser-known policy to limit the practices of charging different premiums to different ages, known as age-rating. Many states currently set a limit on this difference, often mandating that an old person shouldn't pay a premium more than five times a younger person's, even if she's expected to use more than five times as much health care. The ObamaCare provision kicking in next January 1 would reduce that ratio to three-to-one, essentially limiting what the elderly pay in part by forcing young people to carry a larger share of the total cost of national health care.

All true enough, but Smith pretends as if the administration isn't already shafting young people in at least the following ways:

  • Stubbornly refusing to fix the economy with policy solutions which would work instead of going to the well for more and more "stimulus" time and again. This has caused unemployment and under-employment among the relatively young is now so bad that among those aged 18-33, "1 in 2 College Graduates are Jobless or Underemployed."
  • Giving colleges no reason to economize on the ridiculous cost of a college education by expanding the student-loan and grant programs.
  • Not doing anything about Social Security, where the financial situation has deterioriated from serious to frightening in just four years.

Readers could surely come up with a half-dozen more examples without breaking a sweat.

Those who thought "hope and change" was the answer are going to learn some hard lessons in the coming years -- and it's not a given that they won't decide to betray their elders, who have forced unsustainable and completely repealable "social contracts" on them. I guess Ben Smith will also be surprised if that ever happens. He shouldn't be.

Cross-posted at

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