The propensity of weak-kneed, ill-stomached, politically risk-averse fair-weather Democrats in Congress (and some outside Congress, including former Democratic presidents who have been utter failures in achieving reform) to drive a sharp knife in the first black president's back will likely never cease to amaze me. Because of website problems that are currently well on their way of being fixed (and much of it is fixed) and unrelenting media barrage attacking the president for acts of insurance companies, active Republican sabotage, and hackers, evidently, some Democrats in the House (and some Democratic Senators) are threatening to sign on with a Republican bill to severely undermine health reform.
Even a year away from election day, and even following a string of elections that made victorious candidates in favor of implementing health reform (even Chris Christie's New Jersey accepted the ACA's Medicaid expansion, and Virginia elected a Democrat who will now do the same for that state), Democrats are gun shy, cowering in the corner in fear of faux Republican and media attacks against the president and against letting health reform work.
Sadly, reflecting our media landscape and fearfulness of the president's own party, nearly the entirety of the freakout is based on little more than hyped up stories that have been proven false and data even Democrats refuse to fully examine.
Yesterday was all the sky-is-falling over data. So, let's talk about the data. Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services released enrollment numbers, showing only 106,000 people, or 21% of the goal to this point, had enrolled in plans through the federal and state exchanges as of November 2. But they have, along with the happy clappy media figures whose health care will never be threatened, absolutely refused to point to another crucial figure: some 1.5 million Americans have completed their applications on the exchanges.
Wait, what? What's the difference? It's simple. Completion of an application does not mean that the applicant has chosen and been enrolled in a plan. Once the application is complete, applicants have the option to choose and enroll in a plan from the many that are available to them. What could be holding up the evidently 1.4 million Americans who have finished their applications but have yet to choose a plan? A myriad of factors. Sure, website problems may well be one of the main factors that have kept people from enrolling, but so might the tendency to wait and evaluate all the options available to pick the best plan for oneself or one's family.
Another set of data that seems to go completely unnoticed by Democratic diaper-crappers is the fact that nearly 400,000 poor Americans have already joined what is the greatest expansion of public health insurance since the introduction of Medicare: Obamacare's massive expansion of Medicaid. The ignorance on this front is more than a little pathetic, given that the some of the same weak-bellied cowards will excoriate the president for wanting to make simple changes in Medicare to extend the program's life.
The solution isn't to weaken the health reform law or to gut it, but to help the president fix the website problems completely so that people can complete not just their applications but their enrollment as well. Democrats need to focus like a laser beam on the 1.5 million people who have already successfully applied for insurance through the exchanges, not the fake media stories of people losing their coverage without any alternatives. Democrats need to be united and focus on the nearly-half a million Americans who have already signed up for Medicaid, and millions more who will, likely getting health insurance for the first time in many of their adult lives.
I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry when I heard that House Democrats - Democrats - were complaining that the president never gets their back. The president is the reason that the social safety net that is so rightly dear to Democrats saw its largest expansion since the advent of the Social Security Act in the 1930s. The president is the reason that when all is said and done, there will be millions of Americans with affordable health care as a right, not a privilege. This president doesn't have the Democrats' back? Someone please tell me that Democrats haven't joined Republicans in opposite land.
No, it is the Democrats in Congress that have far too often neglected their duty to have the president's back when he needed them most. From teetering support on health reform to begin with to flailing around a host of the president's domestic agenda to outright siding with Republican torture apologists and nearly unanimously blocking funding for the closure of Guantanamo Bay, it isn't the president who has been an unreliable friend of the Congressional Democrats. It is rather the other way around. It has been beltway Democrats and the liberal establishment that has consistently abandoned the president at the most critical junctures of progressive history.
And they are intent on doing it again, afraid to stand the heat. With friends like this, who needs the Tea Party?
This is the time when the president needs Democrats to have a damned spine and hold the line. But even more than that, this is the time every single American who has been unable to get insurance, been dropped by their insurance companies when they got sick or been charged more simply for being a woman need Washington Democrats and Limousine Liberals to stand up to the Republican and media assault on completing the job on health reform. If Democrats are so afraid of an election a year away that they cannot do that, then it isn't merely the Republican party whose usefulness in America is at an end.