July 19, 2013

As the reality of Obamacare emerges, a disastrous calamity imposed on the American people, even the most compliant members of the Obama fan club are beginning to panic. Three union presidents have sent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi a scathing letter decrying Obamacare, showing just how out-of-control this law has become. This astonishing reversal has been underreported so far, except by the ever-vigilant Tom Gara in the Wall Street Journal.

The fact is that the crater of Obamacare is getting deeper, with sharper edges. The unions are first-tier political allies of President Obama and the Democratic Party, and it was surely their last resort to put their grievances with Obamacare in writing in the public sphere. A lot must have happened behind the scenes before they felt sufficiently frustrated with the Obama administration to take this step.

In a joint letter, James P. Hoffa of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Joseph Hansen of the UFCW and D. Taylor of UNITE-HERE state that Obamacare will “destroy the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class” and “destroy the very health and wellbeing of our members along with millions of other hardworking Americans.” And they highlight their buyer’s remorse:

We have been strong supporters of the notion that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care.  We have also been strong supporters of you.  In campaign after campaign we have put boots on the ground, gone door-to-door to get out the vote, run phone banks and raised money to secure this vision.  Now this vision has come back to haunt us.

You can feel their anxiety and boiling frustration coming through.

What does falling apart look like for Obamacare, if not this?

The goal for the White House over the next 15 months is to make sure the 2014 elections will not just be a referendum on Obamacare. And it may find that it’s not easy to persuade its Democratic allies to stick with the White House talking points and walk off an electoral cliff. As the union bosses pointed out to Reid and Pelosi, “Congress wrote this law; we voted for you. We have a problem; you need to fix it.” It’s one thing for the Democrats to dismiss American businesses as whiners. It’s another for them to belittle union leaders.

And, oh by the way, the Department of Health and Human Services Web site shows that the administration is now backpedaling on Obama’s promise that “If you have insurance that you like, then you will be able to keep that insurance.  If you’ve got a doctor that you like, you will be able to keep your doctor.” Well, apparently not. As the union presidents point out, “That promise is hollow.”

One of the frequently asked questions on the HHS Web site is, “Can I keep my own doctor?” The HHS answer to this question has evolved; currently, the answer is, “Depending on the plan you choose in the Marketplace, you may be able to keep your current doctor.” (Emphasis is mine.)  In other words, the HHS language are weasel words that can be interpreted as “No, you cannot keep your own doctor.”  Obamacare makes sure that it’s impractical or just plain impossible to do so.

The cumulatively building, rolling deceit is only going to get worse between now and the 2014 elections. Along with the necessity of the employer-mandate delay, hiding the unflattering facts about Obamacare is only going to get harder as the partial implementation of the law becomes reality.  Even the core constituencies of the Democratic coalition know they can’t live with or accept the blame for the disaster that is coming.

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.