March 6

Washington’s preoccupation with Ukraine has pushed the continuing decay of Obamacare from the headlines.  And what little news about Obamacare there has been is just more of the same – delays, a lack of transparency and the usual efforts by Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare. Yesterday, the White House announced yet another Obamacare delay, this time waiving the law’s minimum health care benefit requirements to allow Americans to keep their canceled health care plans until 2017. This came as the House passed H.R. 4118, which would suspend the individual mandate penalty, by a margin of 250-160 (including 27 Democrats who voted for the bill). And the latest enrollment numbers from the Department of Health and Human Services will be announced in the next week, but the administration continues to hide the composition of the 3.3 million who have managed to sign up for Obamacare so far.

Anyway, from what we know about the president’s management style and his lack of interest in details, we can assume that President Obama either didn’t know or didn’t much care about what was actually in Obamacare.  Who knew that the president was among those who then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was talking to when she famously said, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it”? Obama either believed that you could keep your doctor and your health care plan because that was what showed up in the prepared speeches he was given to read, or he willfully lied to the American people.  Either way, because the president didn’t really know what was in the bill, he doesn’t mind changing it when it doesn’t fit his political purposes. The distraction of Ukraine and the media’s numbness to the stream of Obamacare travails is providing time and a smokescreen for Obama to prepare a big announcement for after March 31, 2014: The BIG PUNT, i.e. a delay in the individual mandate.

The White House and their Democratic allies must realize that they are on a trajectory to lose the Senate in 2014 and are likely coming to terms with the idea that delaying the individual mandate is one way to attempt to change that path. Look for the president to bite the bullet and give in to the vulnerable Democrats, consultants, pundits and other credible handwringers who are telling the president they must try anything and everything to alter the course of the elections. Otherwise, the last two years of the president’s time in office will be spent either vetoing or signing into law Republican legislation, and only conservative-approved nominees will be confirmed for any federal post by a Republican Senate.

Obamacare is a terminal political cancer for incumbent Senate Democrats, including senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Mark Begich (D-Ala.Alaska). Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) are showing early stage symptoms as well.  Combine those races with the open seats in West Virginia, South Dakota, Iowa and Michigan and it’s obvious the Democrats are struggling.

Obamacare is not getting any more popular and neither is the president. It’s obvious that the incremental moves the White House has made to try and temper voters’ anger isn’t working.

 

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