New York magazine published an interview with President Obama Sunday night which is really Obama recounting some of the high profile political arguments of his tenure. One of the arguments which gets a lot of space is Obamacare. Here’s a sample picking up from the moment Scott Brown won a special election which ended Democrats’ 60 vote majority in the Senate:
The most important phone call I made after that was to Nancy Pelosi, because the question I posed to her and to Harry Reid was, “Are you guys still game? Because if you guys are still game, we’ll find a way. But I can’t do it unless Democrats are willing to take what are going to be some tough votes.” Now, part of my argument to them was, you’ve already paid the price politically, it’s not as if a failed health-care effort would be helpful in midterm elections, it’s better to go ahead and push through and then show that we had gotten something done that was really important to the American people. I give Nancy and Harry and a whole lot of Democrats enormous credit. It was one of those moments where a lot of people did the right thing even though the politics of it were bad. And I’ve said to the Democratic caucus when I’ve met with them in subsequent years that their willingness to go ahead and walk the plank to get the Affordable Care Act done is one of the reasons that I continue to be proud of the Democratic Party. For all its warts and all the mistakes that any political party makes — catering to the interest groups that help get people elected — the truth is that the ACA vote showed that when push came to shove and people had to do something they thought was right, even if it was not going to be helpful to their reelection, the majority of Democrats were willing to do it. And certainly Nancy and Harry were willing to do it. We saw that again later on some tough budget votes, and the Iran deal, and I give them enormous credit for that. So once Nancy said, “I’m game,” then it was really just, at that point, a set of tactical questions: What legislative mechanisms could we use to advance legislation that was 90 to 95 percent done but still had 5 percent of stuff that if we had gone through a regular process could have been cleaned up but that ultimately was still going to deliver real help to millions of people across the country?
It’s interesting to read Obama’s take on the passage of Obamacare now, at a moment when even the NY Times is openly saying the program is at risk of collapsing or becoming something very different from what was promised. None of that seems to have registered with the Preisdent (or with Jonathan Chait).
There is 1,500 words about Obamacare and yet all of it is Obama giving Democrats a pat on the back for pushing it through by any means necessary. There is not one word about the president lying the American public. “If you like your plan, you can keep it,” ought to get a mention any time the president wants to talk about his legacy but it doesn’t here. So should his promise about keeping doctors or the one about lowering premiums. So should the clever lie (invented by John Kerry) about the Cadillac tax. And that’s not even to mention the incredible amount of deceit that surrounded the public option, a plan to move the country to single payer without having to admit that was the goal.
Elsewhere in the interview Obama argues that a “fever” has set in among Republicans starting with Sarah Palin and ending with Donald Trump:
Absolutely. I see a straight line from the announcement of Sarah Palin as the vice-presidential nominee to what we see today in Donald Trump, the emergence of the Freedom Caucus, the tea party, and the shift in the center of gravity for the Republican Party. Whether that changes, I think, will depend in part on the outcome of this election, but it’s also going to depend on the degree of self-reflection inside the Republican Party. There have been at least a couple of other times that I’ve said confidently that the fever is going to have to break, but it just seems to get worse.
Given that he’s calling for “self-reflection” it would be nice if the president would engage in some. One reason there is a “fever” in the country is that people didn’t like being lied to by their president and his party for most of a year. It may have taken the media a while to get around to labeling Obama’s comments the lie of the year, but a lot of Americans were on to him well before that. Frankly, there ought to be some acknowledgment somewhere in this piece that the president’s own statements and his party’s willingness to jam this bill through by any means necessary resulted in a political, legal and social mess that is far from settled.