Once carried like a conquering hero, President Obama is now pleading with donors for help to push his agenda, having to convince them that his record is something that should wow them.
“Do you still have my back?” Obama asks in a new letter to donors and contributors. “You should be proud of what we have been able to accomplish together,” he argues. “Can I count on you?”…
The fundraising letter for the Democratic National Committee even offers potential members a gift, a half-sized bumper sticker that reads, “I’ve STILL got his back.”
The White House has often asserted that the president and his cabinet have flexibility to depart from the letter of the law if the modification or delay is consistent with the spirit of the legislation. The words used to describe these actions are often vague or general in nature, but in testimony Wednesday before the House Ways and Means Committee, Kathleen Sebelius used remarkably candid language to refer to her agency’s rewrites of Obamacare. In an exchange with Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) over why the administration had not sent legislation to Congress to alter problematic portions of the law, Sebelius said…:
“We have implemented a number of changes in the way the law was written to ease the transition into the marketplace” for consumers, insurers and employers.
The secretary seemed to be suggesting that legislative fixes were not necessary because the executive branch already had the power to change “the way the law was written.” The president has affirmed this position in the statement released on Wednesday opposing H.R. 4138 ,which calls on the president to “Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments of the Law” or face a possible lawsuit by Congress, arguing that Congress’s complaints over his administration’s rewrites are essentially “political disputes.”
The Obama administration has carved out a swath of exemptions for Obamacare’s individual mandate that could conceivably apply to anyone who claims to have a “hardship” in obtaining health insurance…
[T]he open-ended language has baffled even those sympathetic to Obamacare.
“An individual applicant would still need to show that they had suffered a hardship, but the language is awfully open-ended. It is hard to imagine what they were thinking when the threw the door open this wide,” said Tim Jost, a health law professor at Washington & Lee University who supports Obamacare.
Salon columnist Brian Beutler put it more bluntly: “The individual mandate is riddled with loopholes large enough to drive just about every uninsured person in the country through,” he wrote. “It even troubles some of the law’s most steadfast supporters.”
Some have speculated that the bulk of the new sign-ups have come from those with previous insurance plans that got cancelled because of Obamacare, which would mean fewer Americans than expected are actually gaining coverage as a result of the law who otherwise wouldn’t have it. HHS hasn’t released data on the prior insurance status of those selecting a plan through one of the exchanges, leaving health care policy analysts to parse various surveys looking for clues.
So I decided to do a little experiment. All else being equal, I postulated, if Obamacare sign-ups were mostly coming from the ranks of the uninsured, then states with the highest percentages of uninsured should be signing up the most people on a population-adjusted basis…
As you can see, Texas, the state with the highest percentage uninsured, ranked 27th in terms of adjusted Obamacare sign-ups. Overall, seven of the states with the top 10 uninsured percentages did not crack the top 10 states for Obamacare sign-ups by percentage, and six of the states didn’t make the top 26. The exceptions were Florida, California and Montana, which were on the top 10 of both lists…
[I]f Obamacare is to make a more significant dent in the number of the uninsured, it’s probably going to need deeper penetration into those states with the highest rates of uninsured residents.
That could be one reason why Democrats seem so vexed over how to handle Obamacare in midterm campaigning. Many have adopted the “keep and fix” approach used unsuccessfully by Democrat Alex Sink in this week’s special election to fill the House seat in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. The problem is, they’re strong on the “keep” part but confused on the “fix” part.
When asked how she would fix Obamacare, Sink offered small suggestions that would not have addressed the higher premiums, higher deductibles, and narrower choices the law has imposed on millions of Americans. Other Democrats who have also pledged to fix Obamacare have offered even fewer ways to actually do it.
But they have to do something. It’s conventional wisdom that Republicans who advocate getting rid of Obamacare have to offer an alternative. Now, it’s just as true that Democrats who advocate fixing Obamacare have to offer a fix. Soon.
The spectacle of the president of the United States turning into a pitchman for multibillion-dollar publicly traded insurance companies is jarring. It also represents quite a journey for Obama, who once described himself as a “proponent” of single-payer health care, which largely eliminates for-profit insurers.
But Obama finds himself in this situation due to a combination of his own choices and political constraints. He rejected market-based reforms of the health care system (such as allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines and ending the discrimination in the tax code against individuals buying insurance on their own) that would have increased competition for insurance and brought down premiums.
At the same time, he wasn’t willing to take on the insurance industry and support a much more disruptive single-payer system. His olive branch to the left — a government-run health insurance option to be sold on the exchanges along with privately administered plans — couldn’t pass through the Senate even with Democrats controlling 60 votes…
Trying to pussyfoot around Obamacare was an awkward strategy, and, evidently, it didn’t work. If other Democrats are to avoid meeting Sink’s fate in November, they need something more convincing to say about the Affordable Care Act than “mend it, don’t end it,” which is now their default position. But what could that be?
Here’s a heretical idea. Rather than parsing the individual elements of the law, and trying to persuade voters on an à la carte basis, what about raising the stakes and defending the reform in its entirety as a historic effort to provide affordable health-care coverage to tens of millions of hard-working Americans who otherwise couldn’t afford it? Instead of shying away from the populist and redistributionist essence of the reform, which the White House and many Democrats in Congress have been doing since the start, it’s time to embrace it.
What would that mean? It would involve reaching out to the Democratic Party’s core voters—lower-income people, minorities, highly educated liberals—and portraying Obamacare as the fulfillment of the great human-rights project that began in the nineteen-thirties, under Franklin D. Roosevelt, and was expanded during the nineteen-sixties, under Lyndon Johnson. That message wouldn’t merely be more honest; it would be more effective in getting Democratic voters to turn out in November, which is essential if the Party isn’t to suffer a repeat of 2010.
Via Guy Benson.