Democrats' long nightmare of Obamacare continues

What if waking up is more terrifying than the nightmare?

Democrats for three years have comforted themselves with the thought that 2014 would be the year they broke free of the ObamaCare night sweats. Their political washout in 2010, their failure to take back the House last year, all was the result of their having to defend a law that had yet to take effect. Once the law was up and running, Americans would wake up to its benefits. Or so they believed.

Instead, it is Democrats who are waking up—to a horror film. Every morning brings fresh news of terror: missing deadlines, programs running of money, premiums set to soar, flailing technical implementation. And this week Republicans nimbly forced them to choose between abandoning core provisions of the bill or renewing ownership of what may prove to be one of the biggest political liabilities in decades.

What makes this story line particularly horrifying for Democrats is that it is happening despite their best-laid plans. The architects of ObamaCare wrote it’s timeline with politics in mind. The law’s most popular freebies—the bar on pre-existing conditions, parental coverage for children up to age 26—went into effect quickly to give the party some immediate credit. The law’s more unpleasant provisions and trickier technical components were slated to begin ramping up in 2013—a non-election year. That way Democrats could get past any hiccups and start handing out subsidies in time for the next midterm election. Nobody counted on the hiccups turning into cardiac arrest.

Worse for Democrats, the troubles come at the moment the White House had convinced them to wrap their arms around the law. The administration has been arguing in briefing sessions to members that it helps no one to run from legislation the party already owns. Democrats are discovering this argument is immensely self-serving.

Self-serving, because the White House’s biggest fear is that Democrats will begin to desert this effort. After all, growing numbers of congressional Democrats do not really own ObamaCare in the purest sense. Many of those who voted for the law have retired or been defeated. Their successors have far less allegiance to it.

Recently elected Senate Democrats have enthusiastically joined efforts to kill portions of the law, such as the medical-device tax, the better to suggest to angry constituents that they are “flexible” about “fixing” it. Recent Democratic candidates are harsher. Elizabeth Colbert Busch, who ran in May’s special House election in South Carolina, declared ObamaCare “extremely problematic, it is expensive, it is a $500 billion [higher] cost than we originally anticipated, it’s cutting into Medicare benefits and it’s having companies lay off their employees because they are worried about the cost of it.” She finished: “It needs an enormous fix.” This was a call for repeal in everything but name.
There is more.

Democrats keep having to renew ownership of this monstrosity and while they and liberal pundits make fun of Republican attempts to repeal the law or major portions of it, those Republicans are closer to the will of the voters  than the Democrats.  The bill is actively despised by a majority of voters and passively approved by a few.  Onece again in 2014 Democrats will be on the defensive about these votes.


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