Nobody facing voters this year is even attempting to defend Obamacare. Republicans are promising to replace it with a patient-centered alternative. Democrats are promising to “fix it.” The fight over the political middle is about which side will actually clean up the Obamacare mess.
The good news for Democrats is the most recent Kaiser Foundation tracking poll found 59 percent support for “improve the law” versus just 34 percent support for “repeal the law and replace it with something else.” (They stopped asking about keeping it as-is months ago. The support was single digits.)
Even the handful of Democratic senators who have introduced “fix it” bills have exerted no pressure on their party’s leadership to schedule floor consideration. And their most specific proposal—adding a “copper plan” with an identical benefit package and network to existing Obamacare plans but with even higher deductibles—shows a lack of understanding of the problems millions of Americans are suffering.
At times even the Democrats’ own words betray their “fix it” stance.
President Obama triumphantly declared in the Rose Garden that the law “is doing what it’s supposed to do.” Kathleen Sebelius was asked point blank in congressional testimony whether she would propose any legislative changes and said no. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.) sputtered and failed to come up with a single “fix” idea when asked directly.
Most recently, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said it was “a really important message not to let it be ‘repeal or retain,’” but rather to debate how to “improve” Obamacare. (She has seen the polls.) Yet when asked what she, specifically, would do to fix it the only clear response she gave was “I wanted a single payer.” Her fix is total government control, like the scandal-plagued Veterans Health Administration or British National Health Service.
Pelosi then recovered, noted that single-payer isn’t politically viable, and rambled “you need to prioritize what it is you want to get over the finish line,” meaning the November election. A vivid reminder that “fix it” is a political talking point backed by no policy actions.
Why won’t the Senate act to delay the individual mandate? The most widely hated aspect of the law, the mandate punishes millions of Americans for being unable or unwilling to buy into Obamacare. Many businesses have already received a two-year reprieve from their mandate, but individuals cannot get a Senate vote on even a one-year reprieve.
Why won’t the Senate act to repeal Obamacare’s 30-hour work week? Union leaders including Teamsters president James P. Hoffa noted Obamacare will “destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.” The House passed fix is gathering dust in the Senate.
Why won’t the Senate act to protect taxpayers from being forced to bail out insurance companies? The House is expected to soon consider a no-bailouts bill, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has been pressing for a Senate vote for six months.
While millions of Americans are suffering the disastrous consequences of this law, the Senate Democrats who thwart any attempt to fix its worst elements are out on the campaign trail claiming that, if reelected, they will fix it.
These are the same Obamacare supporters who said you could keep your plan, keep your doctor, and save $2500 per year in lower premiums. Now they want you to ignore their inaction and believe they will “fix it.” Don’t.
Kerpen and Noble are respectively presidents of American Commitment and American Encore, organizations committed to economic freedom that recently launched a joint project at www.FixItFail.com.