Republicans are pouncing on the news that several Dems are calling for an extension in the Obamacare enrollment period, in response to continued problems with the law. Dem Senator Jeanne Shaheen has written a letter to the president asking him to “consider” a delay. CNN’s Dana Bash reports that multiple Dem Senators up in 2014 are expected to support Shaheen’s proposal.
I’ve already laid out why I think Dems can, and should, stick to a “keep and fix” message that forthrightly criticizes implementation, while standing fully behind the law’s goals as worth fighting for, and vouching for the idea that the law is larger than the web site and is far superior to the GOP non-alternative.
GOP operatives are excitedly claiming that Senate Dems are bolting away from the law as fast as possible. But Senate Democratic leadership aides see this with a touch of weariness and skepticism, as little more than typical positioning by Democrats that isn’t really out of sync with a “keep and fix” message, which is what Dems should be saying.
After all, much of this is probably moot. If the law is working well in a few months, there won’t be any need for an extension, so all of this will be forgotten. If it isn’t, then the Democrats’ problems will be far bigger than the “Dems in disarray” narrative Republicans are pushing. Something much more ambitious will have to be done to fix the law at any rate.
“The real test will be in a few months,” one Senate Dem leadership aide tells me. “If the exchanges and web sites are working properly, all this will be forgotten. If not, and there are still problems, then we’ll have to deal with it anyway.”
“If Jeanne Shaheen thinks this is going to help her in New Hampshire, then you know what? Go do it. I don’t think it’s a problem at the end of the day,” the aide continued. “I don’t think it helps Democrats politically. If they think it does, that’s their business.”
“They want to make it look like they’re on top of this and they’re outraged,” the aide continues. “A lot of this is they just want to get press.”
Indeed, as Jonathan Bernstein explains, all that really matters in the end is whether the policy works.