Back in 2004, James Piereson coined the phrase “Punitive Liberalism” to describe a particular malady common in the days of severe Bush Derangement Syndrome. James Taranto introduced many of us to the idea when he wrote:
Writing in The Weekly Standard, James Piereson offers a useful addition to the American political glossary: “punitive liberalism.” This “bizarre doctrine,” which found its fullest expression in the presidency of Jimmy Carter, holds that “America had been responsible for numerous crimes and misdeeds through its history for which it deserved punishment and chastisement.” Those who disagree “were written off as ignorant patriots who could not face up to the sins of the past.” (Hat Tip: Ace; the original version of Taranto’s piece is only available currently at the Wayback Machine)
It is with some trepidation, therefore, that I describe some symptoms I have been experienced with increasing frequency over the last few months.
I first noticed the condition when I read, a few weeks after the election, that the Community College of Allegheny County in Pennsylvania was cutting “the hours of 400 adjunct instructors, support staff, and part-time instructors to dodge paying for Obamacare.”
“It’s kind of a double whammy for us because we are facing a legal requirement [under the new law] to get health care and if the college is reducing our hours, we don’t have the money to pay for it,” said adjunct biology professor Adam Davis.
My reaction? When I read that, I could hear (to borrow a phrase from Taranto) one of the world’s tiniest violins playing in the background. I actually laughed and felt relieved about something in the political world for what may have been the first time since the disaster known as the 2012 Presidential Election. Yes, I thought, even the leftists in academia will not manage to avoid paying for the mess that is Obamacare, and it will cost some of them far more than they imagined.
Then just a few days ago, I had an even stronger reaction when I heard that some unions were petitioning the administration for special subsidies to defray the high cost of insurance under Obamacare. Rick Ungar writes in Forbes:
Unhappy that important improvements in insurance benefits resulting from the healthcare reform law will now cost employers with union workers a bit more—improvements such as no longer permitting insurance policies to place the yearly and lifetime caps on benefits that leave beneficiaries high, dry and broke should they suffer a serious and expensive illness—some labor unions are now asking the government to change the rules to allow low-earning union workers access to the government subsidies so that their employers will not be disadvantaged when competing with companies who have non-union employees.
Yes, you read that correctly. Becket Adams at the Blaze elaborates further:
No, really, union heads are acting like no one warned them that costs would go up.
“We are going back to the administration to say that this is not acceptable,” said Ken Hall, general secretary-treasurer for the Teamsters.
“I heard him say, ‘If you like your health plan, you can keep it,’” said John Wilhelm, chairman of Unite Here Health, the insurance plan for 260,000 union workers. “If I’m wrong, and the president does not intend to keep his word, I would have severe second thoughts about the law.”
Why? Why? Why didn’t anyone tell these leaders about the costs associated with “Obamacare”?
“It seems someone finally noticed that mandating benefits and imposing regulations has a tendency to … increase costs,” Doug Bandow writes for the American Spectator. “Increases which workers are stuck paying. Who would have imagined such a result? It’s not like anyone warned them, right?”
Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge observes: “What is most disturbing is that even the unions are starting to understand that there is really no such thing as a free lunch.” Shocking.
My reaction to all this news: incessant giggling and the hope that the unions’ costs will rise so much that their membership will start to dwindle. After all, if the “cheapest health insurance plan available in 2016 for a family will cost $20,000 for the year,” (h/t Moonbattery), it’s about time that the unions who played such a big role in Obama’s 2012 re-election effort got in on the suffering, too. There may be some justice in the world after all. I’m even thinking about making popcorn.
Diagnosis: Since the unions played such a large role in the passage of Obamacare and the election of Obama, they are really just getting what they said they wanted, so there’s no way my reaction is in any way “punitive” in nature. Either it’s a serious case of Toldjah-itis, or it is just an instance of Obamacare Schadenfreude, of which I expect there will be many more in the years to come.