Major Garrett points out something that gives one an idea of the depth of worry Democrats have over the ObamaCare misfire:
When Sen. Barbara Mikulski speaks, President Obama ought to listen.
Mikulski, after all, was a social worker before Obama was 5 and a successful community organizer before he was 10. She led a campaign to stop a proposed 16-lane highway from plowing through her native Highlandtown neighborhood in East Baltimore. She was elected to the City Council in 1971, the U.S. House in 1976, and the Senate in 1986. Mikulski is the dean of the Senate women, and she sports a career voting record of 93.3 with Americans for Democratic Action. She passionately supports Obamacare.
Before questioning Marilyn Tavenner, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, at a congressional hearing Tuesday, Mikulski said something that ought to make Obama’s blood run cold.
“The launching of the Affordable Care Act has been more than bumpy,” Mikulski said. “I believe there’s been a crisis of confidence created in the dysfunctional nature of the website, the canceling of policies, and sticker shock from some people. We read in The Baltimore Sun this morning that 73,000 Marylanders’ policies will be canceled. So there has been fear, doubt, and a crisis of confidence.”
And in comparison to Jimmy Carter’s time, this particular crisis of confidence is orders of magnitude higher. Carter was mildly incompetent in comparison to the profound incompetence we’re saddled with at the moment. The ObamaCare roll out is just the latest indicator of the depth of that incompetence. And Mikulski is essentially taking it easy on the administration. Crisis of confidence doesn’t even begin to describe how many Americans feel not only about ObamaCare but the Obama administration.
A more devastating assessment of the law’s woes and the long-term consequences of the “fear” and “doubt” surrounding policy cancellations, a still-troubled website, and Obama’s own credibility gap could not have been uttered.
As anyone in politics will tell you, nothing wounds deeper in times of woe than truth told by a friend. It cuts in private. In public, it leaves a bleeding gash.
One component of this crisis is Obama’s own credibility. The federal website lacks credibility. The promise that people who liked their plan couldkeep their plan lacks credibility. Promises of transparency about the website’s privacy protections lack credibility. Vows of transparency onenrollment numbers, now apparently to be released next week, lack credibility.
What do we get from the administration when confronted with Mikulski’s words? The usual avoidance:
“The president shares Senator Mikulski’s frustration with the problems that we have seen,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
When I asked if Mikulski’s rhetoric was unduly alarmist, Carney said it was not. There you have it: White House confirmation that its signature legislative achievement now suffers from a crisis of confidence.
What Mikulski has articulated is not only the problem with ObamaCare, but the problem for Democrats. As the Bush presidency ended and the presidential elections were underway, we were told there was “Bush fatigue” and that Republicans would take a drubbing because of it.
We’re still a year away from the mid-terms, but Obama fatigue has set in early and for good. It is possible that Democrats have a feeling that 2014 may not be a very good year for them if this crisis, for which they are solely responsible, continues uncorrected and is pinned on them.
My guess is, they’re right.