President Obama's Big Labor buddies wanted an Obamacare carve-out. Unlike Congress, they didn't get one. As a result, major unions are siting on the sidelines as the White House faces searing criticism over the new healthcare law. Their message isn't subtle. "Need help? Good luck with that:"
President Barack Obama’s loyal allies in the labor movement aren’t jumping to help the administration in the public battle over the problematic Obamacare website. Put off by new reinsurance fees on group health care plans that affect union members, Big Labor is largely sitting out the effort to enroll people for health care coverage or make the White House’s public case that the mangled rollout of HealthCare.gov doesn’t mean the entire Affordable Care Act is flawed. The AFL-CIO isn’t lifting a finger to help the White House — it remains in negotiations at the White House and on Capitol Hill to change elements of the law it finds objectionable to workers. Those talks were put on hold earlier this month during the government shutdown — a far larger concern for the federal government employee unions — and have begun to restart only in recent days, according to officials from multiple unions. Major public-sector unions also aren’t fired up to help the White House with a law that won’t affect the vast majority of their members. Nor are they ready to register people who aren’t union workers for a benefit they won’t receive themselves.
Obamacare will cause some union members to lose their current coverage and, more importantly, diminishes union bosses' negotiating power with certain employers. When the White House announced it couldn't concoct a sweetheart deal for the unions, this Left-on-Left feud began. Some labor unions have experienced a remarkable change of heart, calling for the repeal of the new law. Such are the wages of reflexively backing Democrats and agitating on behalf of a law before you find out what's in it. Public anger at Obamacare extends far beyond AFL-CIO headquarters, of course. Reuters reports that the healthcare overhaul is "under fire" from all angles, with Obama's broken promises beginning to overshadow the ongoing furor over healthcare.gov's nightmarish roll-out:
President Barack Obama is facing fresh attacks for his pledge that Americans who like their current healthcare plans can keep them under Obamacare, as reports pile up of thousands of Americans facing cancellation notices. Accusations that the pledge was misleading are potentially a deeper threat to Obama than the website glitches that have plagued Healthcare.gov since its October 1 launch and allowed only a trickle of people to sign up on new federal insurance exchanges. Obama has downplayed the problems with the website, saying it's like a cash register not working, and has stressed that the underlying product of the 2010 Affordable Care Act is "actually really good". But critics of Obamacare have seized on the hundreds of thousands of Americans due to lose their current plans because they fail to include essential benefits required by the law, and are asking whether Obama misrepresented the law.
"Hundreds of thousands" doesn't even scratch the surface. Democrats are playing defense on their trademark "keep your plan" pledge -- which has proven to be rather "inoperative," as the euphemism goes. As I mentioned yesterday, their new spin efforts range from full-blown lies to revisionism to head-in-the-sand denial. They cannot erase the fact that the president lied repeatedly to the American people, knowing full well that his airtight promise would not pan out for millions of Americans (and crafting regulations that sealed many of their fates). The Reuters piece profiles one of the average people Obama betrayed:
Kevin DeLashmutt, 53, who is self-employed in real estate in Seattle, Washington, said that over the summer he received a letter from his insurance company saying the plan he now has is no longer available. The cheapest plan he could buy would cost $411, about twice his current premium, while the plan most like the one he has would cost about 150 percent more - $542.59. "You used to be able to choose what to get based on what you need and what you can afford, including a high deductible," DeLashmutt said. "Let me manage my own risk. Those people in Washington, D.C., shouldn't get to make that decision for me."
The Los Angeles Times explores why enrollment has been spottier than expected in California, where the state exchange website is less broken than its federal counterpart. The upshot: This law's problems go well beyond technological obstacles. Only a fraction of the state's 'navigators' are certified to actually sign people up, for instance, and state officials have again pushed back their public disclosure of enrollment statistics. A Times story earlier in the week highlighted middle class Californians who are suffering from Obamacare sticker shock. Meanwhile, as Kathleen Sebelius performs her blame-shifting song and dance on Capitol Hill, the administration is taking heat over the companies whose assistance they didn't enlist. A Salesforce.com official has stated publicly that his firm was spurned, adding that they could have produced a healthcare.gov that worked well, at a fraction of the cost. After the existing site made its (inevitable) ill-fated debut on October 1, everyone from Microsoft to Amazon offered their services to HHS -- to no avail. Whether any of these folks are involved in the newly-launched "tech surge" remains a mystery because the administration won't reveal the identities of the participants.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography