Joe Manchin says he’s open to almost anything on ObamaCare, except more meetings — at least those exclusively among the faithful. Manchin ripped both Barack Obama and Mike Pence for holding caucus meetings rather than reaching out across the aisle this week, and tells Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough that he won’t attend Obama’s meeting with Senate Democrats on ObamaCare strategy. Instead, Manchin wants Senators of both parties to start talking with each other:
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) January 4, 2017
Manchin really stretches to lump Pence in with Obama for his “a pox upon both houses” pose. Pence is part of an incoming administration that hasn’t even logged its first day in office yet, and it makes some sense to meet with the party’s caucus ahead of their launch. There is plenty of time for Pence to meet with Senate Democrats over the next four years, or with a mix of both Republicans and Democrats working on specific issues.
Obama, on the other hand, has had eight years to do what Manchin suggested, and has only attempted it a couple of times at Republican caucus retreats — and then to give speeches rather than dialogue. In the issue at hand — ObamaCare — Obama joined with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to shove the legislation down the throats of Republicans simply because they could. They only negotiated outcomes among Democrats when a lack of sufficient votes for controversial elements, such as the public option, threatened their ability to shove the bill through without Republicans. Obama didn’t even bother to meet with then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell until eighteen months had passed.
As for the benefits of ObamaCare, voters don’t seem impressed with them, mainly because the coverage they’re mandated to buy costs far too much, and the deductibles are so high that most people will never access the benefits. They’re paying thousands of dollars a year on premiums to pay thousands of dollars more out of pocket. Simply reading off the number of West Virginians who are forced to comply with that mandate tells us nothing about the effectiveness of ObamaCare … which Manchin might know if he took himself out of the Democratic bubble that has been collapsing ever since the passage of ObamaCare seven years ago.
Manchin has a point about insularity, but it’s a point better directed to his colleagues — and to the outgoing president who thinks he has a strategy to salvage ObamaCare.