Ever since the Obama administration announced last Friday — in the late afternoon — that it was “suspending” implementation of the CLASS (Community Living Services and Supports) Act, Obamacare’s apologists have been twisting themselves into knots to explain away this embarrassing episode as no big deal.
Leading the way has been Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein. In his account of CLASS’s demise, Klein suggests that the voluntary long-term-care-insurance program ended up in Obamacare pretty much by happenstance, and certainly through no fault of any living Democrat (he points the finger mainly at the late Sen. Ted Kennedy). Klein says the Obama White House was actually publicly cool to the program — and privately hostile. Indeed, according to Klein, the most important reason the program stayed in the final bill was Republican senator Judd Gregg’s amendment, offered in committee, which required the Secretary of HHS to certify that the program could be financed on a self-sustaining basis from participant premiums before it could be launched. Once that amendment was adopted, the budgetary arguments that had been raised against CLASS had been addressed, and then inertia and an unwillingness to undo Senator Kennedy’s final legislative initiative led to its eventual enactment.
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