I'm shocked. Not by the latest in a long list of postponements -- Americans should hunker down for a deluge of fresh problems, delays and excuses next week -- but by the White House's jaw-droppingly bad timing and messaging. (Although, come to think of it, should I be?) President Obama traveled to Maryland this morning for a rip-roarin', chest-thumpin', GOP-mockin' speech to promote his healthcare law. America's post-partisan healer didn't hold back:
Obama mocking GOP: "Affordable health care is worse than a law that allowed slaveowners get their runaway slaves back"— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) September 26, 2013
Then, within minutes of Obama concluding his smug screed, his administration dropped this news. Virtuosic:
The Obama administration is delaying another piece of Obamacare – this time postponing online enrollment in some of the small-business exchanges scheduled to open Oct. 1, sources tell POLITICO. Small businesses looking to enroll in coverage on so-called SHOP exchanges run by the federal government will be able to submit a paper application on Oct. 1 – they just won’t be able to enroll online. The delay is expected to further stoke Republican-led concerns that the law is not ready and should be stopped before 2014. The SHOP applications represent the latest glitch in the federal exchange infrastructure. Federal health officials recently said they won’t be able to transfer Medicaid applications to states right away.
Oops. You may recall that these small business exchanges were subjected to major alterations and delays this past spring, so what's one more last-minute change among friends? They've had three-and-a-half years to get this right. What a humiliation. A new CBS News/New York Times poll reaffirms the law's deep unpopularity (just 39 percent of Americans approve of it), and underscores the president's waning clout (his job approval has slid to 43 percent). Hence, the law's cheerleaders are in full damage control mode:
Don't assume all the Obamacare websites will work smoothly on Oct 1--and don't have a cow if they don't http://t.co/sST1royclf— Jonathan Cohn (@CitizenCohn) September 20, 2013
Mary Katharine Ham: "It’s your family’s health care, your personal information, your time and energy, and huge chunks of your annual income on the line. But hey, don’t have a cow about it." Yeah. Relax, you filthy ingrates. Republicans in Congress have long discussed including a one-year delay of Obamacare's central individual mandate tax to a government funding bill, or as part of a debt ceiling deal. The president says he won't negotiate at all on the latter point, but that stubborn stance won't be operative for much longer. The public is lining up against him on the debt ceiling, and Democrats' blue wall on Obamacare just sprung its first leak:
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia broke ranks with fellow Democrats and said he’d support a stopgap spending plan that delays the individual mandate in President Barack Obama’s health-care law. “There’s no way I could not vote for it,” Manchin said at a Bloomberg Government breakfast today. “It’s very reasonable and sensible.” The individual mandate is the linchpin of the law that requires most Americans to purchase health care through government-run insurance exchanges.
There is wide public support for such a delay, which now has bipartisan backing in both chambers of Congress. The White House's position as of a few days ago is that Obama will not accept any more Obamacare delays. That's rich, considering the headline of this very post. Parting thought: Should conservatives support a one-year delay of the mandate tax (which would effectively stop the law in its tracks for at least another year), or let it burn?
UPDATE - Between the president invoking slavery, Sebelius' segregation slander, and now this preposterous new "statistic" from Harry Reid, might Democrats be panicking?
Next year, 129 million with pre-existing conditions can #getcovered. Tell Republicans to stop shutdown threats over health reform.— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) September 25, 2013