When I wrote last week that Democrats eventually would come to Congress seeking to “fix” the mess that is Obamacare I never thought “eventually” would be a week later, but that’s where we find ourselves.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., was the first to put fingers to keyboard this week when she wrote President Obama saying, “Given the existing problems with the website, I urge you to consider extending open enrollment beyond the current end date of March 31, 2014. Allowing extra time for consumers is critically important so they have the opportunity to become familiar with the website, survey their options and enroll.” Ten Democrats have signed on to the letter calling for what elicited cries of racism, anarchism, terrorism and hostage taking just a few weeks ago.
They’re right. Extra time would help the program tweak some of its problems, but it wouldn’t change the fact the underlying program is fundamentally flawed. It would breathe some life into a dying mess, which is why Republicans should, as I said last week, unequivocally say no.
But to say “no” effectively, to make real advances in the fight to spare the country from the disaster that is Obamacare, Republicans must learn how to message properly and strategically. That, sadly, has been a stumbling block for them.
The healthcare.gov website will get fixed, the myriad technical mistakes will be tweaked and made to work. Government has unlimited funds and this is a finite problem. Plus, this has been a huge embarrassment. Of course they’ll fix it.
As such, Republicans won’t be able to talk about the glitches forever. Once it’s fixed and “working,” Democrats will say, “See, problem solved! Let’s move on!” The media, dutiful lapdogs they are, will comply.
Unless, that is, Republicans act now to steer the conversation instead of following it.
Media appearances about the website problems are easy to come by right now. Republicans should use them not only to hammer those problems, but also to highlight the real problems that affect millions of Americans in real and damaging ways.