Dems petition the president
A month ago, Republicans were vilified for seeking a delay in Obamacare. Now it's nervous Senate Democrats having second thoughts about the law.
Despite a relentless cascade of bad publicity surrounding his signature health care program, President Obama shows no signs of modifying his legislative plan, even in the face of suggestions from members of his own political party.
"We're going to get this done," Obama told a group of campaign supporters Monday during a pep rally for the Affordable Care Act held in Washington, D.C.
On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius smoothly dismissed requests to delay Obamacare requirements that many millions of Americans sign up by the end of March. After U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, urged the administration to shut down the HealthCare.gov website so that it can be fixed instead of just "limping along," Sebelius declared that "delay is not an option."
Obama administration press secretary Jay Carney further argued that backers of Obamacare will profit in upcoming elections.
Citing a Democratic Party victory in the Virginia governor's race, Carney stated, "The Republican candidate in that race made his name as an opponent of Obamacare, campaigned on the repeal of Obamacare and lost. The Democratic candidate embraced the Affordable Care Act, campaigned on the Affordable Care Act and won."
Despite Carney's boast, Senate Democrats running in 2014 are getting a tad nervous.
On Wednesday, in a meeting not listed on Obama's official schedule, 15 Democratic members of the U.S. Senate, including Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, met with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other top administration officials to voice concerns that the ongoing Obamacare fiasco could threaten their re-election prospects.
There's nothing like the prospect of defeat at the polls to focus the attention of self-interested pols.
Senators explained afterwards that they are concerned by the repeated systemic failures of the Obamacare website as well as reports of insurance policy cancellations and higher-than-expected prices for health insurance under Obama's plan.
"I won't let up until these problems are fixed," said Arkansas' Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, a prominent supporter of Obama's health care law who is now among those on the electoral endangered list.
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico said he and other members of his group were "respectful" in their statements to Obama but worried about their constituents' reaction to the new health law and its many mandates.
According to news reports, Obama offered the Democrats little but tea and sympathy. Afterwards, press secretary Carney dismissed any possibility of a delay in the law for individuals even though the administration granted a one-year delay to businesses, saying that "we still believe there is time available" to get the government website running at a high level.
This controversy, however, is about much more than website problems, no matter how serious they may be. Technical problems can be fixed. The real problem is a health care law that seems to be throwing more people off of health insurance than putting people on it.
Supporters of this law have identified the transition from one policy to another as the problem. But the real problem is to what people are being transitioned.
The details will be resolved in time. Perhaps Obamacare is as great as Obama proclaims it to be. But the Obamacare rollout has been besieged by one problem after another and its credibility has been undermined by the president's own dishonest rhetoric.
Senate Democrats warned Obama that that spells trouble at the polls. So far unpersuaded, Obama's response has been to charge full speed ahead.