The 111th Congress, the most unpopular Congress in the recorded history of the United States, ended last week with a flurry of legislative activity that set a record for a lame duck Congress. Some in the media are eager to make the case that last week’s events portend a new era of bipartisan accomplishment, led by the White House, that will extend into the 112th Congress. They are half right.
Last week’s events in Washington were a preview of lawmaking in 2011, but Congress was not where the real action was. While the media was distracted by the last breaths of a defeated leftist majority in Congress, it was the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that gave true picture of how the Obama Administration will advance their agenda in 2011.
First on Tuesday, the HHS unveiled new price controls for the health insurance industry. Using new powers granted by Obamacare, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that starting next year, health insurance companies must receive permission from the Obama Administration before they can raise rates by more than 10 percent. The experts at HHS believe these price controls will help decrease rising health care costs. They are wrong. Price controls attack the symptoms of runaway costs, not the cause. As any Econ 101 student can tell you, they will cause only shortages, not better health care. This is only one of thousands of new powers Obamacare granted the HHS. Left unchecked, there are many new health care regulations to come.