*President Barack Obama’s signature piece of legislation, The Affordable Care Act, is on the ropes. Let’s call it for what it is. Those who never wanted it, and those who have spent every waking hour trying to stop it, got the break they needed with the website registration failures.
The sign-up delays were truly problematic as the public’s excitement to enroll exceeded the government’s capacity to handle the requests—a point that’s being missed in the press, by the way. There has never been such an immediate demand for a government enrollment program in the history of the internet age. There was no way to measure capacity for such a demand. But critics don’t see that. All they (and Congress) wanted to focus on was that the website didn’t work. Since when has any government program worked perfectly? But it’s Obamacare, so…
The machinations of implementation not withstanding, the universal health care policy that has universally become known as “Obamacare,” was still praised and highly favored—despite its detractors. Some health care beats no health care any day of the week for 47 million people. The latest problem now has nothing to do with those who don’t have any health care. It’s a problem that affects those that do have health care. This latest controversy is threatening to cold cock this landmark legislation. Why? Because it goes to something the Republicans have been trying to get at for five years, President Obama’s credibility. The President, almost single-handedly sold the nation universal health care. He rammed it through on his popularity, his party’s control of Congress and his change agenda that the people bought wholesale.
The honeymoon period for Barack Obama was better than any President in recent history for him to be able to accomplish what Presidents over the past 100 years couldn’t. The problem may have been that the President sold it too good. The policy made sense when little in Washington makes sense. You choose your provider. The market competes for you. If you have health insurance you can keep your current provider. This is the part that has the President hemmed up. But it made sense at the time, and the President gave his word on it.
Well, turns out, that’s not the way it’s playing out. Public policy has intended consequences, and unintended consequences. People being dropped from their health care plans while they considered their health plan options, is an unintended consequence unforeseen.
Of course, detractors had nearly three years to figure out a way to deconstruct Obamacare. This was the angle the insurers pursued. If you beat a drum long enough, the weak-minded will capitulate, and the dumb-minded will be turned all the way out. All they needed was to find one thing the President said wasn’t true to suggest he misled the people on Obamacare.
All the President had (has) was (is) his word, and now his critics get to pile on in a way they haven’t been able to do since Obama’s been President. And they are piling on…
Even the President’s favorite “Frienemy,” former President Bill Clinton, weighed in—giving credence to that old saying, “Hey, when you see a good fight, jump in it.”
Clinton and Obama need each other like a skunk needs stank.
Obama needs Clinton’s credibility with “down home white folk” that don’t believe anything black people say (that’s what the Democratic Party speech was about). Clinton needs Obama’s social networking organization and pop culture connections to get his wife over the hump in 2016. Neither really like each other, but they need each other because both are so popular in two very different ways.
Both hold their noses, play nice and act like they like it. Both understand politics and political relationships. Obama pulled Clinton to launch the rollout to rural and redneck America (Clinton’s base) but Clinton didn’t sign up for the glitches—so only in a way Bill Clinton can do, he’s digging at Obama when trying to pull him out of the ditch. Meanwhile, even members of his own party seem to be getting soft on him. People couldn’t argue with success, and his popularity was the biggest sign of President Obama’s success. Now he’s at his lowest ratings, and people will kick you when you’re down. But he won’t be down always. He just needs to fix Obamacare.
This is just a bump in the road for President Obama. He’ll be ah-ight. The last social welfare policy to be rolled out of this magnitude was Social Security. It took seven years to get it right, and they eventually did—and it made for the primary social safety net we have today.
We can’t allow Obamacare to be unraveled. It was an incremental policy from the outset.
We just must insist that it be fixed as soon as possible.
Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist and author of, REAL EYEZ: Race, Reality and Politics in 21 Century Popular Culture. He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com and on Twitter at @DrAnthonySamad.