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.
The website’s errors are annoying, but they’re insignificant in the grand scheme of things. It’s estimated that 16 million Americans will lose their current health insurance after being explicitly told by the president and Democrats they wouldn’t. It’s already begun – 800,000 in New Jersey, 300,000 in Florida, 160,000 from just one provider in California. And when those who’ve lost the coverage they liked and voluntarily bought start to find out what they’ll have to pay for a similar plan next year, they will encounter exponential increases in both premiums and deductibles. It’s a disaster that should be both emphasized and personalized.
Democrats never miss an opportunity to trot out human props to serve as anecdotes to advance their cause. Meanwhile, Democrats routinely and effectively dismiss stories of companies laying off people or cutting hours to avoid Obamacare because there isn’t a living, breathing person attached to them. This time, there are literally millions of victims around, and Republicans can and should tell their stories.
And this doesn’t mean simply issuing a press release. Find those people. Have them there when possible. Bring them to town hall meetings and media interviews and rallies. Let them speak, write, appear on TV. Let millions hear their stories.
Democrats never miss an opportunity to present the worst-case scenario as the norm when they want to scare people into thinking a progressive policy must be enacted or the nation will face doom. One has been enacted, and millions of real people are being harmed because of it. Put names and faces to it.
When we hear 800,000 in one state are losing their coverage after being promised they wouldn’t, we think of it as an interesting statistic in a busy world. When we see a person’s life uprooted by government action, it makes a different impact.
Democrats will win this Obamacare fight because progressives simply don’t give a damn about individuals, they care about the “greater good.” Hundreds of millions of people have lost their lives for the “greater good” at the hands of progressive bodies, so faceless statistics are irrelevant to them. But a crying mother who will have her premiums tripled and her deductible quadrupled will move voters, who will demand action from those progressive politicians and make them care. Because if there’s one thing progressives will put ahead of their agenda it’s holding onto power. If enough voters speak, they will have no choice but to listen.
But this effort has to be sustained and updated.
Members of Congress will hear from a lot of citizens losing their coverage or having their costs explode. Keep adding names to the list they mention in every interview. “Yes, the website is a disgrace. But what’s also a disgrace is that Jane Doe, a small business owner and mother of three, is going to see her premiums rise from $200 per month to $500 and her deductible will triple after being promised she’d save $2,500 per year.”
A line like that should be part of in every speech Republicans give, every question about Obamacare they answer.
Also, drop the idea of delaying the Obamacare mandate. Republicans such as Marco Rubio of Florida, Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, have floated this notion in the Senate, and Rep. Joe Barton of Texas has brought it up in the House. Johnson will introduce the “If You Like Your Health Plan, You Can Keep It Act” next week. All are friendly sounding ideas, but they’re dumb, counter-productive and will serve only to ensure Obamacare survives.
The cat is out of the bag. Democrats know they are in trouble, so they are on a full-court-press to make people believe Obamacare is here to stay, come hell or high water. Offering the lifeline of delay will only allow this cancer to metastasize into our national consciousness. Republicans need to stop.
“It’s the law of the land,” we heard time and again during the shutdown, and changing or delaying it isn’t an option. Republicans were beaten about the head with that line, it’s time to return the favor.
Democrats could have had any type of health reform they wanted. They could have even involved Republicans in the process. They didn’t. They wrote and passed Obamacare as it is. They should be made to live with it, repeal it or get out of the way and let Republicans repeal it. No life-lines. Not this time.
If Republicans act strategically and with purpose, and if they will resist the urge to “help,” Obamacare will self-destruct and the American people will demand its repeal like senior citizens did with Medicare Catastrophic in 1989. But if Republicans act like Republicans, splinter and try to be seen as “the good guys” by the media, Obamacare, and soon much worse, will be here to stay. They have the opportunity right now to, for once, disprove the old Washington joke that, when it comes to policy, Democrats are evil and Republicans are stupid. Republicans, please, don’t be stupid.
Obamacare is what Democrats wanted, and it is what they got. Republicans rarely get such a clear opportunity to shine a spotlight on what Democrats’ big government agenda really means to Americans. They should shine it brightly. No corrections, no fixes, no life-support. Obamacare is here, now. The best way to make sure it isn’t here to stay is to let it run its course and make sure everyone sees it as it does.