To the undisputed reasons for Obamacare’s rocky rollout — a balky website, muddied White House messaging and sudden sticker shock for individuals forced to buy more expensive health insurance — add a less acknowledged cause: calculated sabotage by Republicans at every step.
That may sound like a left-wing conspiracy theory — and the Obama administration itself is so busy defending the indefensible early failings of its signature program that it has barely tried to make this case. But there is a strong factual basis for such a charge.
It’s admittedly, according to Purdum, akin to a left-wing conspiracy theory that even a desperate White House with no compunction about smearing Republicans hasn’t stooped to using, so reporters at Politico are taking care of it for them. In Purdum’s telling of the story, the GOP is guilty of such dastardly moves as not voting for Obamacare and, gasp!, going to the courts with challenges to it. Many governors opted to have the feds build an exchange for them, which the law allowed and Obama did nothing to prevent by building consensus and buy-in for the law. As usual, among the press, President Obama deserves to be spared even the routine machinations, opposition, and negotiations that come with our form of government.
You have a friend who is a lifelong couch potato with diabetes and a heart problem. He declares his intention to run a marathon with no training whatsoever. You advise him against this, fearing he won’t be able to handle it and hurt himself. He runs the marathon, almost dies at Mile 16, and then blames you for not carrying him 26.2 miles. This is the GOP’s obligation to Obamacare, a law it had no hand in passing because it was afraid of exactly this meltdown.
The drama culminated on the eve of the open enrollment date of Oct. 1. Congressional Republicans shut down the government, disrupting last-minute planning and limiting the administration’s political ability to prepare the public for the likelihood of potential problems, because it was in a last-ditch fight to defend the president’s biggest legislative accomplishment.
As we all know, the shutdown did not affect Obamacare, its funding, or its rollout, and the administration knew a month before the shutdown about the problems plaguing HealthCare.gov. Obama and Democrats could have prevented exactly this shutdown by taking a deal with the GOP for the delay they’re going to end up needing anyway. But Purdum also believes Obama is entitled to an opposition party that makes it their business to optimize his “political ability to prepare the public for the likelihood of potential problems” in his baby boondoggle. Remind me. Did the shutdown prevent the president from giving speeches? Would that it had.
And, finally, if it is indeed GOP sabotage that caused Obamacare’s problems, how does Purdum explain the rolling calamities that are the exchanges in notably un-red states, Maryland, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington? Those states have failed along with the federal exchange, partly because the administration kept them ignorant of important regs and requirements until after November 2012. They sabotaged the legacy to win the presidency.