The Spectacle Blog

Obama’s Slow-Mo Political Destruction

By on 10.29.13 | 8:42AM

Truth be told, I’d much rather be writing about the Red Sox than the current unctuous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But politics has to intrude on the Spectacle blog at some point. Fred Barnes writes today:

Unpleasant shocks loom for a majority of Americans who tap into Obamacare exchanges. Those 40 years of age and younger will discover next year their insurance premiums are “a lot higher than they would pay in today’s market,” says health care expert James Capretta. That will create a furor.

So, too, some lower-middle-income and middle-class Americans will find their access to doctors is limited. Why? Because many of the country’s biggest and best hospitals and some doctors have not agreed to take on this category of patients. Also, patients will be forced to endure longer waits as a result of a doctor shortage. In 2015 and 2016, the popular Medicare Advantage program will shrink.

Low-income folks and those with preexisting conditions will prosper under Obamacare. But how will middle-income Americans feel when they learn they’re paying considerably more for the same insurance? Not happy, I suspect. Or those under 30 who chose a “catastrophic-only” policy with high deductibles? They won’t be thrilled when told they are ineligible for a subsidy, whatever their income.

The point is that as Obamacare is rolled out over the final years of this presidency, there will be numerous occasions when Obama’s promises about the new health insurance scheme are exposed as untrue.

The president’s approval rating is already falling, thanks in part to the calamity that is the Healthcare.gov website, which 60 percent of Americans call “a joke.” But because the full rollout of the law happens over the president’s second term—and with major portions of the law either delayed or likely to be delayed—we’re looking at several years of a tortuous, slow-motion, exploding presidency, the sort of scene that makes a Michael Bay movie almost worth seeing, but not quite. In other words, three more years of news items like this:

Sue Klinkhamer has a problem.

It’s called Obamacare.

And the irony of her situation is not lost on her. In a recent email addressed to her former boss, Illinois Congressman Bill Foster, and other Democratic colleagues, she wrote:

“I spent two years defending Obamacare. I had constituents scream at me, spit at me and call me names that I can’t put in print. The congressman was not re-elected in 2010 mainly because of the anti-Obamacare anger. When the congressman was not re-elected, I also (along with the rest of our staff) lost my job. I was upset that because of the health care issue, I didn’t have a job anymore but still defended Obamacare because it would make health care available to everyone at, what I assumed, would be an affordable price. I have now learned that I was wrong. Very wrong.”

The only possible way for Democrats to paper over this is to commence the usual demagoguery about wars on women and $45,000/month birth control—to distract. But even that might not work this time. It’s difficult to get worked up over a stupid comment by Todd Akin when your health premiums are doubling. Noah Rothman went so far as to wonder whether those who lost their health insurance thanks to Obamacare would form a new coalition of voters for the GOP. I wouldn’t rule it out. Health care is something that has direct and intimate consequences for people, both in terms of their well-being and their wallets. Lately the middle class has been drifting away from the Republican Party; perhaps the failure of Obamacare will bring them back to the fold.

But Republicans should avoid the temptation to hunker down and reap the political benefits. The GOP, despite some huge missteps, has won concessions in the form of spending caps and sequestration, and shelved progressive priorities like a minimum wage increase and immigration reform, by fighting intelligently and tenaciously. As the political ground dissolves beneath Obama, they should continue to do so.

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