The issuance of waivers from various requirements under Obamacare continues apace. In April, in addition to waivers for drug or health companies (27), unions (31), 38 waivers were issued to restaurants, night clubs and hotels in Nancy Pelsoi’s House district.
While these waivers may be entirely appropriate (I can certainly think of reasons why these businesses might need a waiver), the problem is that it is unclear whether there any standards for the granting of waivers. It seems to be all at the government’s discretion. And even though we know who gets a waiver, we don’t know why they got a waiver or why those who didn’t get a waiver were refused.
So here is an idea. The Obama administration is already drafting rules to require companies who bid on federal contracts to disclose the political contributions that they make, including contributions to private groups that are not currently required to be disclosed.* The Administration says this is for transparency – even though federal contracts are awarded to the low bidder and there is very little discretion involved.
So let me suggest this: If the Administration is so keen on transparency that they want companies that are bidding on contacts which are automatically awarded to the low bidder, to disclose political contributions, why not ask those who apply for an Obamacare waiver, where there really is a lot of discretion involved, to disclose their contributions?
Oh, I forgot. The Obama administration doesn’t need to ask who the unions are contributing to and they probably know about those places in Nancy Pelosi’s district, too. There’s no need to bother them. Never mind.
PS: I assume the sarcasm in the above was obvious, except, that is, for: (i) the fact that it would be good to understand what the basis is for waivers under Obamacare: and (ii) my very real concern as to why the Administration is pushing for disclosure by businesses who bid for federal contracts of all contributions in excess of $5,000 that they, or their executives, have made to political groups or to independent groups that spend money independently to influence elections.
* “The White House Wants a List,” The Wall Street Journal, April 25, 2011; Matea Gold and Tom Hamburger, “Executives fighting executive order,” Chicago Tribune, May 8, 2011.