And so it begins. As many folks predicted, the passage of so-called "health care reform" has sent the signal to major US corporations that their insurance costs will be rising. The result is that several have already announced plans to take large charges on their budgets to offset the costs. In the case of AT&T, for example, it's $1 billion due to changes in the tax treatment of their in-house subsidies for the health care costs of their retirees.
Equally predictable has been the reaction of Congress: demand that the CEOs come to Washington and justify those charges. If you didn't think we were on the road to the world of Atlas Shrugged, this should make matters clearer.
What's most amusing though is the way that Representatives Waxman and Stupak phrased matters in their letter to the CEOs:
“The new law is designed to expand coverage and bring down costs, so your assertions are a matter of concern.”
In other words: "this law isn't working out how we intended, dammit, and it must be your fault! We said this would bring down costs, so that should be sufficient!" It really is the equivalent of a five year-old's temper tantrum at not getting his way in a complicated world.
It never occurs to Waxman, Stupak, et. al. that there might be a set of economic laws out there that not even the mighty power of Congress and King Obama can bend to their wishes. If their law "said" coverage would expand and costs would come down, then only the evil designs of greedy people could be frustrating that result.
It couldn't be that the legislation was doomed from the start and that this is the result that a number of critics predicted, could it?
That Congress would ignore or discount unintended consequences is indeed a "Dog Bites Man" story. But for those who claim that opponents of ObamaCare were fear-mongering or racists or just opponents of change, I will only suggest that this will be the first of many of our predictions about its effects that are likely to come to pass. And I will be doing my personal best to document as many as I can, so watch this spot.