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Christmas is near! And for some reason, President Obama would like for you to spend it talking about Obamacare. Or does he? In what appears to be an attempt to preempt any and all mockery of the law and its embarrassing rollout, his political organization, Organizing for America, has moved far beyond parody by putting out ads like this one:
A genius political move? Possibly. Every second spent discussing Pajama Boy and his hot chocolate is a second not spent discussing the Affordable Care Act. And that, of course, should be welcome news for Democrats across the country. Sure, the conversation may turn toward Pajama Boy’s faded Hope and Change posters, the reasons why he moved into his parents’ basement, or whether he’s under the age of 26 and hence a child, but that’s still more helpful, politically, than a discussion of Obamacare and its implementation so far.
Let’s recap what we have learned since October 1. The administration, first of all, failed to use three years and hundreds of millions of dollars to produce a website that is up and running, you know, all the time, like most websites. To be honest, I still have trouble processing that information. I understand that Michelle Obama used to complain that people “kept raising the bar” on her husband, but I was never aware of how low she wanted it to be.
We then learned that the administration’s central promise about the law (aside from extending coverage a bit), that if you like your plan, you can keep it, was a blatant lie. Millions of Americans have already lost their health insurance, and millions more will undergo the same fate in the near future. And if you liked your doctor, you may lose her as well.
We also learned that key features of the law were to be postponed. The SHOP exchange website for small businesses was delayed by a year, the employer mandate as well, the enrollment period was extended a bit, the payment window as well. Ah, and maybe there’ll be a Spanish version of healthcare.gov at some point.
Meanwhile, insurance companies are not receiving the enrollment information they need, and straightforward plan information, ranging from pricing to network coverage, is remarkably hard to discover.
President Obama has now come to the conclusion that massive government agencies may not be very good at micromanaging the lives of hundreds of millions of people. As Texas Gov. Rick Perry would say, “Oops.” Maybe some experience as a small-town mayor would have prepared him better for the presidency.
It’s too late for that now, and creating the kind of silly distractions President Obama claims to loathe may be the most effective way forward in the run-up to the midterm elections. His new adviser, John Podesta, tried to lead the way by comparing House Republicans to a murderous cult, and this OFA campaign may well be inspired by the same impulse.
There is, of course, another possibility. The staff at OFA may have looked toward the secretary of Health and Human Services, noticed that she still has her job, and come to realize that accountability or any notion of professional responsibility isn’t really a thing in President Obama’s world of redistribution and handouts.
Stan Veuger is an economist at the American Enterprise Institute.
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