Is Obama’s legacy a health care law that hurts his party for years to come?

posted at 1:41 pm on May 3, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

Josh Kraushaar of National Journal ponders the implications of the impending “train wreck.” Is it Democrats’ Iraq, he wonders?

At Tuesday’s press conference, President Obama delivered an unfocused eight-minute defense of his central legislative accomplishment in office – the Affordable Care Act. In the face of intraparty criticism that implementation of his health care law will be a “train wreck,” new polls showing support for the law near all-time lows, and even the Democratic nominee in next week’s House special election calling the law “extremely problematic”– there’s plenty of evidence piling up to believe health care will be a political millstone for Democrats in 2014.

In fact, the legacy of the Iraq war to Republicans during the Bush administration offers a useful reference to how the implementation of Obama’s health care law could play out politically for his party. Like the Democrats’ partisan relationship with the health care law, support for the Iraq war was a prerequisite for being a Republican during the Bush years. Opposition from the rare gadfly, like Ron Paul or Walter Jones, nearly drummed them out of the party. Among Democrats, outspoken antipathy to the war was most intense among the base – the netroots and antiwar activists at the fringes of the party. For a while, most Democrats didn’t want to sound too critical of the war effort for risk of being painted as part of the anti-war movement.

Support for the war dropped as officials struggled to implement nation-building after the fall of Saddam Hussein. As casualties piled up and the violence worsened, the fringe position of the liberal base gradually became more palatable. No longer were war-critiquing Democrats seen as soft on national security. In the 2006 midterms, Democrats effectively campaigned on an anti-war message to take back the majority in the House and Senate for the first time in 12 years, capitalizing on war weariness. Eventually a number of Republicans split from the party to save their political hide.

A couple things. I, like Kraushaar, was pretty amazed at how bad Obama’s answer was on Obamacare Tuesday, as if it hadn’t occurred to him he might have to defend it. Also, while I don’t object to the political comparison of Obamacare and Iraq, it’s worth noting that the high level of Democratic support in the Senate for the Iraq war offered more inoculation on the issue for Republicans for far longer than the entirely partisan Obamacare vote offers Democrats.

Kraushaar also touches on something many on the ideological left might miss, which is that no matter how one feels about the Iraq war (their own passionate opposition colors their perception), a domestic issue like health care necessarily affects more people in an intimate, everyday way than a war overseas did. I say this as someone who knows many people in our relatively small military community who have sacrificed all or love someone who did, but I’m stating it as a political fact not meant to dismiss their intimate, unthinkable losses:

While the debate over Obama’s health care law isn’t a life-or-death battle, health care affects voter livelihood (and their voting decisions) like few other issues do. And there are clear signs that if premiums go up, businesses are forced to change how they insure their employees, and implementation of the law is uneven, the potential for political consequences are significant. In the 2010 midterms, Democrats suffered a historic landslide when the debate over health care was abstract. The stakes could be even higher when voters have first-hand experience with its effects. (Just look at the fevered reaction from Hill staffers affected by the law for a sampling of how intense voter anger could become.)

In both examples, the presidential sales pitch ended up being overhyped, with promises made that couldn’t realistically be achieved…

Obama’s health care law was designed to expand access to the uninsured. It’s a noble goal, if not necessarily a smart political priority. (It’s more popular to advocate for improved health care, not expanded access.) But to win support for the law, Obama claimed it would lower costs, improve the quality of care and not force anyone off their current health care plan. That’s not shaping up to be the case. Premiums are rising, employer uncertainty is growing and voters aren’t viewing the law favorably – with many not even aware of the frontloaded benefits already in place. And even on the access side, the law of unintended consequences is kicking in: Some large retail companies are cutting back employee hours so they won’t have to offer health insurance. That’s not good for the economy or health care access.

As more information, more stories about implementation, and more unintended consequences come to pass, we’ll see more examples of this— a five-minute MSNBC panel grappling with the news that “Medicaid fails almost entirely to achieve its objectives, at fantastic cost to taxpayers,” according to an Oregon study partially designed by an Obamacare architect. Watch for a preview of the arguments they’ll make for many years to come. It centers on the idea that benefits from preventive care may take years and years to see, so it’s not fair to judge any of these programs, well, pretty much ever. It’s a pretty neat set-up for advocates of spending copious taxpayer dollars on things that don’t actually help people, and a real bummer for taxpayers and the people who are supposed to be being helped. As with Benghazi and the White House’s other “fact-gathering” pursuits of justice, there seems to be no day of reckoning in sight.

The panel also frets at the end of the clip, as Sen. Max Baucus did, about the fact that Americans just don’t understand how great Obamacare is because of insufficient P.R. efforts. Until the bill’s allies realize the implementation problem is about more than a really good ad campaign, they’re dooming their baby even more certainly.


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No. His legacy is his policies that will hurt this country for decades to come.

HumpBot Salvation on May 3, 2013 at 1:44 PM

Obama wants to destroy everything that made America great. That will be his legacy. The game has changed.

tom daschle concerned on May 3, 2013 at 1:44 PM

It only hurts the party if the GOP has the savvy to make it hurt.

On that, I have serious doubts.

hawkeye54 on May 3, 2013 at 1:45 PM

I hope all who support the progressives are hurt first…gd ‘em all.

RedInMD on May 3, 2013 at 1:46 PM

I certainly hope the answer to the headline question will be seen by everyone as “You’d better believe it!”

But seriously: a government takeover of the health care sector would be… problematic, even if run by the Red Cross. But by this crop of people selected based on politics, not competency?

How could anyone have possibly thought it might not be a train wreck?

Vanceone on May 3, 2013 at 1:47 PM

I think his legacy will be he ended the US as we know it.

The level of propaganda in our schools and media is astounding. There’s simply no way to overcome it. We’ll have to suffer through the implementation and collapse of socialism then rebuild out of the ashes.

darwin on May 3, 2013 at 1:48 PM

How does anybody figure that less doctors = greater healthcare? How does that calculate for anyone?

beatcanvas on May 3, 2013 at 1:48 PM

His legacy is to make control and obedience foundations for the new America.

He doesn’t give a shit what anybody thinks.

He’s done his service, in furtherance of Marxism.

OhEssYouCowboys on May 3, 2013 at 1:48 PM

It is the card I will play laughingly to every Lib who dare complain about their health insurance/care…OWN IT CAUSE YOU BONED IT!

hillsoftx on May 3, 2013 at 1:49 PM

I think his legacy will be he ended the US as we know it.

The level of propaganda in our schools and media is astounding. There’s simply no way to overcome it. We’ll have to suffer through the implementation and collapse of socialism then rebuild out of the ashes.

darwin on May 3, 2013 at 1:48 PM

That’s a big bingo.

OhEssYouCowboys on May 3, 2013 at 1:50 PM

Obama wants to destroy everything that made America great. That will be his legacy. The game has changed.

What made America great is what makes Obama hate it. He’s been taught and bought into the narrative that America’s greatness was created at the expense of other races here and world wide and it has to make amends by endless redistribution of our resources to those exploited and be made equal to and no greater than any other nation.

hawkeye54 on May 3, 2013 at 1:50 PM

Why would he care?

He and mcgilla have “seperate but equal” healtchare for life. Like the rest of the ruling elite they laugh at us daily.

They also have legions of libs willing to fellate them and sell their moms for 30 peices of silver.

acyl72 on May 3, 2013 at 1:50 PM

darwin on May 3, 2013 at 1:48 PM

It is astounding.
It can be overcome and it starts in our homes!
Teach our own first, then teach one, reach one…

Scrumpy on May 3, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Liberals get to hurt, too, under Obamacare. For the first time in their lives they have to pay out of pocket, too.

I want that to be Obama’s legacy, for all liberals.

Liam on May 3, 2013 at 1:53 PM

This is a big f****** deal.

And why legislation should pass through proper channels, with full debate in the light of day.

Jocundus on May 3, 2013 at 1:56 PM

How does anybody figure that less doctors = greater healthcare?

They are the same ones who think healthcare coverage is the same as actual healthcare.

tommyboy on May 3, 2013 at 1:58 PM

Liberals get to hurt, too, under Obamacare. For the first time in their lives they have to pay out of pocket, too.

I want that to be Obama’s legacy, for all liberals.

Liam on May 3, 2013 at 1:53 PM

They don’t see it as hurting. They see it as sacrificing for Marxism and for the American Lenin.

I have no doubt that half of them would give their lives for the cause.

Marxism is their religion … and they will willingly suffer for it.

OhEssYouCowboys on May 3, 2013 at 2:00 PM

In other words: We passed the law, and even those currently benefiting from it don’t know what’s in it.

–Phillip Klein

Imagine if they knew.

Only 35% approve of it.

May all who’re for it spontaneously combust, Pelosi first.

Schadenfreude on May 3, 2013 at 2:00 PM

I would really LOVE to see the GOP and conservatives spread far and wide a Photoshop of Obama signing that POS bill with a “Mission Accomplished!” banner behind it.

This thing is a disaster that must be tied around the neck of every Democrat in 2014.

rockmom on May 3, 2013 at 2:00 PM

They are the same ones who think healthcare coverage is the same as actual healthcare.

tommyboy on May 3, 2013 at 1:58 PM

Thank you!

coverage no= equal quality, affordability,options RE: healthcare.

banging my head on the wall*

bazil9 on May 3, 2013 at 2:01 PM

Liam..you will get your wish.

Hmmm…who is on shite care govt med now and the quality?
I wonder. They already pay..but don’t realize it.
Get on a Govt plan now..tell me how wonderful it is.
From Vets, medicaid, ect…
I know it well…I’d a soon smoke weed all day and die then walk into Gosnell clinics for treatment.

bazil9 on May 3, 2013 at 2:05 PM

Is Obama’s legacy a health care law that hurts his party for years to come?

Could be…but for now, he’s down in Mexico being
critical of his own country..that’s always good
for Legacies….

ToddPA on May 3, 2013 at 2:08 PM

Fox News
South Carolina Making ObamaCare a ‘Crime’

The South Carolina state House passed a bill Wednesday that declares President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to be “null and void,” and criminalizes its implementation.

The state’s Freedom of Health Care Protection Act intends to “prohibit certain individuals from enforcing or attempting to enforce such unconstitutional laws; and to establish criminal penalties and civil liability for violating this article.”

The measure permits the state Attorney General, with reasonable cause, “to restrain by temporary restraining order, temporary injunction, or permanent injunction” any person who is believed to be causing harm to any person or business with the implementation of Obamacare.

lynncgb on May 3, 2013 at 2:09 PM

This thing is a disaster that must be tied around the neck of every Democrat in 2014.

rockmom on May 3, 2013 at 2:00 PM

I agree..I think they underestimate this.

Also..Seniors will get their Advantage,D and Supplement spikes in Oct 2013..Just in time.

bazil9 on May 3, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Proud of my bloodlines in the Palmetto State. ;)

bazil9 on May 3, 2013 at 2:10 PM

I have no doubt that half of them would give their lives for the cause.

OhEssYouCowboys on May 3, 2013 at 2:00 PM

I wish they would.

What’s that theme song from M*A*S*H* — Suicide Is Painless?

Liam on May 3, 2013 at 2:11 PM

bazil9 on May 3, 2013 at 2:05 PM

You have no idea how much I want liberals to suffer, like they have made us do for fifty years.

Liam on May 3, 2013 at 2:15 PM

I wish they would.

What’s that theme song from M*A*S*H* — Suicide Is Painless?

Liam on May 3, 2013 at 2:11 PM

I thought that was the theme song for the IPAB recommendations.

OhEssYouCowboys on May 3, 2013 at 2:15 PM

You have no idea how much I want liberals to suffer, like they have made us do for fifty years.

Liam on May 3, 2013 at 2:15 PM

They already are…they just don’t see it.
Oh no..I know how you feel.

bazil9 on May 3, 2013 at 2:16 PM

Obama’s legacy is going to be feckless foreign policy, hypocrisy on a grand scale, ideological motivations in all things and, not least, pure drivel. ObamaCare fits.

OT, but if you want to see your friends heads explode in disbelief, show this article. It reports on how TFG is in Mexico blaming “US guns” for Mexican drug violence. What an ass.

MTF on May 3, 2013 at 2:19 PM

Obama’s health care law was designed to expand access to the uninsured.

Bullcrap. We never had a problem with ‘access to health care’ for the uninsured. They were uninsured because they didn’t like the price and wanted something for free.

slickwillie2001 on May 3, 2013 at 2:20 PM

I still say the funniest thing about MSNBC is claiming not to be partisan yet they have that “Lean Forward” banner always on the screen.

Like Igor from Young Frankenstein:

-I can do something about that hump, you know.

“Hump? What hump?

Bishop on May 3, 2013 at 2:20 PM

The thing that’s going to do the Democrats in is not the bill, but how it was passed. If they had stopped when Scott Brown got elected, they could have been saved. However, they just had to do it and I’ll never forgive them for it and, I’m sure once the bill starts working its magic, neither will the public.

bflat879 on May 3, 2013 at 2:21 PM

I thought that was the theme song for the IPAB recommendations.

OhEssYouCowboys on May 3, 2013 at 2:15 PM

You know, that’s funny.

All those PETA and global warming types think Man is the problem.

Okay, fine — I’ll go along with that.

They should kill themselves first, quit being part of the ‘problem’ and become part of their proposed solution.

Liam on May 3, 2013 at 2:23 PM

Coming soon……DORA THE EXPLORER Morning after abortion pills in the Pre-K welcome kits from schools!!!

…..as the Secretary shall determine.

PappyD61 on May 3, 2013 at 2:24 PM

This guy could crap right in most liberals mouths and the story would be how much he cares about everyone getting enough to eat.

BobMbx on May 3, 2013 at 2:25 PM

It reports on how TFG is in Mexico blaming “US guns” for Mexican drug violence. What an ass.

MTF on May 3, 2013 at 2:19 PM

Obama and his narcissistic ego simply want applause and accolades. He’ll say anything, no matter how false or stupid, to get those.

It’s not the future to Obama. It’s, “Me, here and right now.”

Liam on May 3, 2013 at 2:26 PM

No. His legacy is his policies that will hurt this country for decades to come.

HumpBot Salvation on May 3, 2013 at 1:44 PM

Who said the pain was mutually exclusive (other than DemocRAT apologists, that is)? With that said, given Teh SCOAMT wants to hurt the country, call me Clubber Lang because my prediction is PAIN!

Steve Eggleston on May 3, 2013 at 2:27 PM

Like Igor from Young Frankenstein:

-I can do something about that hump, you know.

“Hump? What hump?

Bishop on May 3, 2013 at 2:20 PM

Chainsaw or plasma torch?

Steve Eggleston on May 3, 2013 at 2:28 PM

The panel also frets……. ….Americans just don’t understand how great Obamacare is because of insufficient P.R. efforts.

That’s right. Cause we’re just to stupid to figure it out by ourselves.

I may not be the brightest bulb in the house, but I can tell a rose from a bucket of $hit.

BacaDog on May 3, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Problem is you ask this goof years from now to explain exactly why he did what he did and he will most like blather something about “good intentions”, forgetting that well-worn/time honored quote pertaining to what the road to Hell happens to be paved with.

pilamaye on May 3, 2013 at 2:30 PM

I think his legacy will be he ended the US as we know it.

The level of propaganda in our schools and media is astounding. There’s simply no way to overcome it. We’ll have to suffer through the implementation and collapse of socialism then rebuild out of the ashes.

darwin on May 3, 2013 at 1:48 PM

All we can hope for is that the collapse happens in the 44 years it took in Eastern Europe instead of the 74 it took in the Soviet Union, and then that there is a rebuilding rather than a rebranding.

Steve Eggleston on May 3, 2013 at 2:31 PM

Problem is you ask this goof years from now to explain exactly why he did what he did and he will most like blather something about “good intentions”, forgetting that well-worn/time honored quote pertaining to what the road to Hell happens to be paved with.

pilamaye on May 3, 2013 at 2:30 PM

Point of order – the goof (aka Teh SCOAMT) knows precisely what that time-honored quote is and its ultimate destination.

Steve Eggleston on May 3, 2013 at 2:33 PM

Thomas Sowell has said (to the effect) don’t just look at the stated goals, look at the incentives created. People (and companies) respond to the incentives not the goals. Think beyond Stage One.

Russ808 on May 3, 2013 at 2:33 PM

Problem is you ask this goof years from now to explain exactly why he did what he did and he will most like blather something about “good intentions”, forgetting that well-worn/time honored quote pertaining to what the road to Hell happens to be paved with.

pilamaye on May 3, 2013 at 2:30 PM

You’re joking, right?

Do you think any LSM type would dare put Obama on the spot?

Liam on May 3, 2013 at 2:33 PM

How could ObamaCare hurt the Democrats if 42% of voters do not even know Obamacare is law?

I would love to believe Dems’ faces will be rubbed in the O-Care shinola for decades to come, but the number of ignorant people is so large and the GOP so unbelievably stupid, I’m not so certain.

rcpjr on May 3, 2013 at 2:34 PM

I cannot understand why anyone would think think that Obamacare would hurt the Dems in the future. The 47% who live on the government teat will always support Dems no matter what they do. Sort of like a junkie and his supplier. The elite Dems are ideologically committed to the left no matter what so who is going to turn against the left? Obamacare may end up ruining our entire healthcare system but the rich know that no matter what they will always have good healthcare.

inspectorudy on May 3, 2013 at 2:36 PM

pertaining to what the road to Hell happens to be paved with.

pilamaye on May 3, 2013 at 2:30 PM

Maybe it’s simply a case of him Needing Red Toilet Paper.

ToddPA on May 3, 2013 at 2:40 PM

Amazing Fact! Science Proves Health Insurance Works (Or, Maybe, Not)

Train wreck? What train wreck? Obamacare is gonna be AWESOME!

Resist We Much on May 3, 2013 at 2:45 PM

Obamacare was not healthcare reform – it was a huge giveaway to the healthcare insurance companies. It does nothing to control costs.

myiq2xu on May 3, 2013 at 2:46 PM

we warned you Amerika!

burserker on May 3, 2013 at 2:47 PM

While the debate over Obama’s health care law isn’t a life-or-death battle, health care affects voter livelihood (and their voting decisions) like few other issues do.

Healthcare is life and death. And in a way that hits home to everyone in the US (not just us mouth-breathing sorts whose families produce the soldiers that got impacted in the wars).

krome on May 3, 2013 at 2:49 PM

pertaining to what the road to Hell happens to be paved with.

pilamaye on May 3, 2013 at 2:30 PM

Maybe it’s simply a case of him Needing Red Toilet Paper.

ToddPA on May 3, 2013 at 2:40 PM

And an ice ball to suck on!

pilamaye on May 3, 2013 at 2:50 PM

OT, but if you want to see your friends heads explode in disbelief, show this article. It reports on how TFG is in Mexico blaming “US guns” for Mexican drug violence. What an ass.

MTF on May 3, 2013 at 2:19 PM

Here’s a thought — think immigration reform. if you want to get support for your unpopular agenda at home and position your party to win that agenda in the future, what better place to start stirring up anti-second amendment fever than in front of the relatives of the 20 or 30 million new democrat voters you are about to get out of comprehensive immigration reform amnesty.

Put it in that perspective, along with the knowledge that Univision will carry it for the illegals here in the US and this is a campaign speech to his new voters.

AZfederalist on May 3, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Yes it hurts the Dems but the problem is it hurts us too. Throwing out the baby with the bathwater is never a good strategy. I wish my state of Texas would have the cojones to do what SC just did. I hope all the red states start doing exactly what SC has done, outlaw this “tax”. It isn’t a law according to the SCOTUS it’s a tax.

neyney on May 3, 2013 at 3:08 PM

As far as Democrats and their “signature health care plan” go, you can’t fix stupid.

GarandFan on May 3, 2013 at 3:14 PM

In answer to the title: Yes, yes it is.

jake49 on May 3, 2013 at 3:29 PM

This may be a bit OT, but can someone please explain why Obamacare wasn’t declared unconstitutional immediately after Justice Kennedy declared the fine imposed is a tax? All tax bills have to originate in the House, right?

Snitchmo on May 3, 2013 at 3:36 PM

myiq2xu on May 3, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Wrong. It was built to advantage the hospitals and kinda big pharma. This is a very negative “health insurance company” bill. In fact of all the players, after individual physicians, the insurance companies are hurt the worst.

Zomcon JEM on May 3, 2013 at 3:49 PM

This may be a bit OT, but can someone please explain why Obamacare wasn’t declared unconstitutional immediately after Justice Kennedy declared the fine imposed is a tax? All tax bills have to originate in the House, right?

Snitchmo on May 3, 2013 at 3:36 PM

Further, it is a direct tax upon the citizens of the states. The only constitutional direct tax is that enacted by amendment allowing an income tax. ObamaTax does not fit the definition in the amendment, thus this is an illegal tax. Benedict Roberts should be taken to the woodshed over this as well as his upholding the law based on the “it’s a tax” finding.

AZfederalist on May 3, 2013 at 3:50 PM

I doubt that Obamacare will hurt his party for years to come. Those death panels will relieve those “God booing” and “lust is us” folks of the need to pull the plug on their parents. They weren’t certain that didn’t think the big lie of “offspring’s choice” or “accelerated estate planning” would have worked too well, so Obamacare saved them.

Don L on May 3, 2013 at 3:50 PM

This may be a bit OT, but can someone please explain why Obamacare wasn’t declared unconstitutional immediately after Justice Kennedy declared the fine imposed is a tax? All tax bills have to originate in the House, right?

Snitchmo on May 3, 2013 at 3:36 PM

What has law got to do with anything the left decides to do to America these days? That constitution–it’s over. The defense of it died with Roe v Wade!

Don L on May 3, 2013 at 3:54 PM

This may be a bit OT, but can someone please explain why Obamacare wasn’t declared unconstitutional immediately after Justice Kennedy declared the fine imposed is a tax? All tax bills have to originate in the House, right?

Snitchmo on May 3, 2013 at 3:36 PM

The Senate took a House bill that had nothing to do with Health Insurance, stripped all of it out, replaced it with Obamacare, and voted on that.

cptacek on May 3, 2013 at 3:58 PM

I just fail to see how any amount of incompetence or corruption will hurt the Democrat party. As long as their hearts are in the right place, that’s all that matters.

I worked up in Canada for a few years and saw the exact same thing. People would rather have a broken system that is “morally superior” than a cheap, well-run system.

There is no limit to how bad things can get. Canadians have nothing but awful things to say about their own experiences dealing with doctors and yet they’ll still defend and promote the system to the bitter end, cause universal healthcare is “the right thing to do”.

The only possible hope for this country is that when the dollar collapses this year or next that the subsequent depression get’s blamed on politicians, not bankers. I don’t have much hope of that happening either cause Americans are just too stupid to figure it out.

hisfrogness on May 3, 2013 at 4:06 PM

There is no limit to how bad things can get. Canadians have nothing but awful things to say about their own experiences dealing with doctors and yet they’ll still defend and promote the system to the bitter end, cause universal healthcare is “the right thing to do”.

The only possible hope for this country is that when the dollar collapses this year or next that the subsequent depression get’s blamed on politicians, not bankers. I don’t have much hope of that happening either cause Americans are just too stupid to figure it out.

hisfrogness on May 3, 2013 at 4:06 PM

95% of Canadians approve of and defend their socialized healthcare. It makes them feel good.

The other 5% are those that actually got seriously ill and needed to make use of it.

It’s like asking people their level of satisfaction with the insurance company that insures their homes against fire.

slickwillie2001 on May 3, 2013 at 4:45 PM

What’s that theme song from M*A*S*H* — Suicide Is Painless?

Liam on May 3, 2013 at 2:11 PM

I sing that song every time a GOPer opens his or her mouth and gives people reason to vote for the Dems.

We’re STILL bound for one-party Dem rule for decades to come based on the GOPe’s utter ineptitude.

Myron Falwell on May 3, 2013 at 10:28 PM

The other 5% are those that actually got seriously ill and needed to make use of it.

The scary part is that about 15% of the population actually got sick, but only a third of those survived their system. :/

Theophile on May 4, 2013 at 3:12 PM

The scary part is that about 15% of the population actually got sick, but only a third of those survived their system. :/

Theophile on May 4, 2013 at 3:12 PM

You ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie. The stories of “(some part of the Canadian ‘health”care’ system) killed my brother/mother/cousin/friend/fiance/husband/etc.) are absolutely legion. The most often-stated cause is waiting MONTHS for treatment or surgery.

That’s what happens when something is completely ‘free’ – the great unwashed come like a horde of locusts to a field of ripe wheat.

MelonCollie on May 5, 2013 at 1:17 PM