I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.It's safe to say that Obamacare's roll-out hasn't been as smooth as it should have been. Website problems have been a real hindrance to its more effective implementation, especially in a society wallowing in instant gratification. But, the fact is, that it's a website, and fixable, and no one has died as a result. The same can't be said about policies enacted by the previous Administration.
But the outrage ginned up by the mass media over the website problems—an outrage which was losing its motive force as Healthcare.gov performed better by the day—was as nothing compared to the fulminations falling from the lips of well-coiffed "journalists" over President Obama's "broken promise". That promise—that if you liked your insurance policy you could keep it—wasn't broken by him, but by insurance companies which had issued junk policies which did not meet the strictures of the PPACA and were thus cancelling those policies, without informing consumers about options they had on the exchanges. Suddenly the news shows were filled with people apoplectic that their policies had been cancelled—policies, mind you, which could be cancelled at any moment for any reason, say, for instance, if you dared to get sick—and braying that Obama had "broken his promise".
Today, the President offered an administrative fix, which allowed insurance companies to renew those policies for another year, but also stipulated that those companies had to inform their policy holders of the much better options available under Obamacare. In one move, he defused yet another manufactured scandal.
However, in the lead up to today's press conference, we were treated to a parade of nervous Democrats, buffeted by the negative coverage, turning against the party's greatest achievement in social welfare since the birth Medicare. The website's problems had Democrats opining that the individual mandate should be delayed for a year. And the "broken promise" had Democrats in both the House and Senate rushing to administer a cure which would put the PPACA on life support. We were treated to the image of, once again, President Obama standing alone, and having to fight a hostile press, a rabid GOP, and the usual feckless Democrats.
One thing you can say about Republicans is that they march in lockstep. During the shutdown fiasco, we were treated to breathless reports about "moderate" Republicans who were ready to break with the leadership and stick a knife in the Tea Party's back. They never materialized; the House GOP caucus would have doomed us to default in the service of party solidarity.
Democrats, obviously, are different. The party is much more diverse, holding within its caucus both Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin. There are bound to be disagreements.
But in regards to the most signal Democratic achievement of the past 50 years, there should be no light between Congressional Democrats and the White House. There should have been not a single House Democrat going on record as being open to the GOP's "fix" for the "broken promise". Senator Mary Landrieu's bill should have had one line, to the effect that insurance companies would have to inform their junk policy holders of the much better options available on the health exchanges. The drumbeat sh0uld have been that ACA was the law of the land, was here to stay, and that Democrats would work to make it better.
Instead we had Democratic legislators running for the hills, afraid of their own shadows, displaying both moral and political cowardice. Suddenly, providing a health safety net to 30 million uninsured was not a cause to fight for, but a political headache to avoid. Democratic principles went by the wayside, replaced with a fear of being called nasty names on the cable and network news shows. Too many Democrats showed once again why so many view them as weak-kneed and spineless.
This has to stop. If Democrats can't loudly and proudly defend the greatest expansion of the social safety net in 50 years, and run on it and win, then the party deserves power as much as does the GOP. Once Obamacare lumbers into its full gallop, it has the promise of cementing a Democratic dominance for a generation. But that will only happen if Democrats stand firm with the President, and don't cower in fear with every minor setback. Politics are not for the faint of heart. Republicans embody this truism; too many Democrats seem afraid of bumps in the night, like little children.
This isn't an essay telling Democrats to never darken my doorway. But this is an essay to put them on notice. Run away from Obamacare at your own political peril. Run with it, and we may yet pull the fat out of the fire.
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