Democrats Rush To Get Ahead Of 'September Surprise'

Posted: Jul 07, 2014 6:15 PM

With the latest news that 85% of the inconsistences with the enrollment process can’t be fixed, a dismal approval rating, and a disastrous rollout, no wonder why Senate Democrats are trying to shift the attention elsewhere.

State health insurance rates for 2015 are being released later this fall. This has got Democrats on edge.

A disastrous string of stories about hikes in insurance rates during the closing days of the 2014 midterms could certainly destroy Democratic hopes of retaining the Senate, which is why the White House and other members of the Democratic Congressional leadership scrambling to get their countermeasures in order to neutralize any “September Surprise” (via Politico):

In what aides say is a sign of a changed approach within the White House — but also heightened concerns around the midterms — they’re even coordinating with Hill Democrats, funneling localized background analysis and talking points to each state’s delegation through Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer’s Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. They’ve also relied on California Rep. Henry Waxman’s staff at the Energy and Commerce Committee to produce rebuttal reports, often in advance, on GOP claims about insurance.

“One of the lessons we’ve learned in implementing health care is to stay on it,” said Tara McGuinness, the White House senior communications adviser who has been spearheading the effort for the West Wing, reflecting on previous run-ins. “We are not going to let anyone distort the debate.”

For months, the half-dozen White House communications and policy aides have been assembling state-by-state histories of health insurance rates before the Affordable Care Act was implemented, the drop-offs between initial rate proposals and final rates, and an analysis of the law’s effects and projections for 2015 — all condensed to fit on a two-page background and talking points document tailored for each state.

Then they wait, closely tracking developments in the states in order to be ready to pounce when rates are announced.

When they see a state preparing to announce premium proposals, McGuinness emails Reid’s and Pelosi’s offices, who then connect her team with the chiefs of staff and press aides for every Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation. They put together policy and communications briefings for the members’ staffs, and occasionally the members themselves.

Politico noted that Ohio Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor, who also serves as the director of her state’s insurance department, is also keeping track of the insurance rates. “Regardless of what they [Democrats] want to say or the rhetoric they want to use, in Ohio, consumers are paying more…the facts are what the facts are. And the facts are that Obamacare is making things more expensive in Ohio,” she said.

It’s great that Ohio has someone leading the charge against Obamacare, but what about elsewhere? Are Republicans doing the same data crunching, memo writing, and constructing of infrastructures to share massive amounts of information with key members of their party leadership?