If the government shutdown briefly drove up support for Obamacare, then the experience of Obamacare has driven it down, dramatically so. And unlike the shutdown, there is no immediate end to the ordeal that has soured more Americans on the program.
The George Washington Battleground Poll shows that the right track/wrong track number for the country (19 percent/73 percent) has opened up again. Opposition to Obamacare has increased to 53 percent, with 49 percent of respondents saying it went “too far.” Meanwhile, President Obama’s approval/disapproval job approval has slid to 45 percent/52 percent. Republicans are still blamed for the shutdown but, interestingly, this does not seem to have influenced how respondents plan to vote next November. (It made no difference to 47 percent, while 27 percent said it was less likely to vote for its member of Congress; 22 percent said it was more likely to vote for its member.)
Like voters at large, Senate Democrats are concerned that this dissatisfaction may become a tsunami, especially imperiling red-state Democrats in 2014. Moreover, as time goes on, the coverage of Obamacare seems to be getting more critical of the administration as it struggles to explain its fraudulent statement that Americans could keep their doctors and their insurance plan. Politico, for example, catches the president trying to massage the misrepresentation:
“Now if you had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was, you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.” The extra clause represents a slight change from the “if you like your plan, you can keep it” mantra of the 2012 campaign and most of 2013. But Obama said it is necessary because people on [the] individual market often “don’t know how vulnerable they are.”
This, in essence, adopts the “You are too stupid to know what is good for you” argument in lieu of an apology for misleading the voters.
In order to rescue himself and his party, the president must accomplish the following in the next few months:
- Make HealthCare.gov fully functional by the promised Nov. 30 date;
- Convince several million people to sign up in the health-care exchanges;
- Convince those who had catastrophic coverage or even higher-cost plans that they are now better off; and
- Make sure that, in all this confusion, there is no gap in coverage for those forced off their old plans.
It’s hard to imagine that all gets done. It’s even harder to imagine that the creators of the nonfunctioning Web site, who claim not to know how many people have signed up, could get this done.