The great engine of the welfare state is the hidden cost. Usually, the costs of a new program or regulation are too diffuse or distant to matter much politically in comparison to the promise of a direct benefit. This time, the costs aren’t hidden. They are immediate and concrete in the canceled policies and the higher premiums, and they are making the politics of Obamacare toxic.
The Obama administration clearly hopes it can brazen it out. It came up with a date for fixing the website, Nov. 30, so it could have a date to use to hold off the dogs, for now. It will come up with some sort of administrative “fix” to the problem of cancellations so it can have something it can call a fix and try to use to stop Democratic defections. Its strategy is always based, at bottom, on spin and muddling through. These are the same people who believe they possess the administrative mastery to run highly complex laws remaking swaths of the American economy.
You know it’s a hell of a predicament, though, when Bill Clinton thinks keeping your word is the only way out.