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ACA Fail Fractal
Obamacare Pitting Democrats Against the White House

The rift between congressional Democrats and the White House is growing. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has publicly opposed President Obama’s plan to submit new trade agreements to Congress for a straight up-and-down vote. Greens claim they’ll stay home on election day if they don’t like the President’s Keystone decision. And trouble is also looming over the EPA’s possible decisions on carbon, which could hurt coal producing states and some manufacturers.

Some intra-party tension between the executive and legislative branches is normal, but the amount of tension in this case is not. Why is this time different? It’s not trade or environmental issues that are driving the rift; it’s the dog that hasn’t barked, the issue that was supposed to unite Democrats even as the President pulled the party to the center on peripheral issues. It was, in short, Obamacare. The Democratic plan for 2014 was to run on achievement of the Holy Grail of blue ideology and Democratic politics since the time of Harry Truman.

But the Democrats chose…poorly. In Congress, they wrote a horrible mess of a law, filled with all sorts of political land mines and time bombs. Democrats banked on being able to fix the glaring flaws in a conference committee, but when they lost the sixtieth vote in the Senate, they weren’t able to do that. They had to make a fateful choice between passing nothing or passing an ugly piece of garbage, and they picked the garbage. It’s been stinking up the place ever since.

That’s a self inflicted wound. The Democrats in Congress did that to themselves, and if the continued disintegration of Obamacare is hurting them at the polls…well, that’s democracy in action.

But the White House, which has actually done a fairly good job using waivers, extensions, and orders to shore up the train wreck of a health care law produced by Congress, committed an act of incomprehensible incompetence. Not only did the administration fail to develop the website for the health care exchanges on time; the President himself was also painfully and publicly clueless about the impending fiasco. The White House’s ineptitude focused the attention of the electorate like a floodlight on all the other deep flaws in Obamacare. And so the GOP, despite also being a house divided, is on the offensive in 2014.

Neither the White House nor Congress really wants or perhaps even dares to own up to the missteps that mired the Democrats in this mess. Witness the staggering failure of President Obama to fire a single ranking employee for the most embarrassing failure of government administration since George W. Bush invaded Iraq for non-existent WMD. Or witness the Congressional complaints that the White House hasn’t solved the “messaging” issues with the ACA—as if lipstick and mascara could turn this pig into the belle of the ball.

November is still a long way off, and the electoral tide could still turn, but it’s beginning to look as if Chief Justice Roberts may have the shrewdest political mind in America. The most damaging thing he could have possibly done to the Democratic Party was to let Obamacare take effect. Had he voted to overturn the law, we might be seeing a united Democratic Party getting behind health care reform rather than wondering what to do with this beached whale of a law.

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  • rheddles

    Roberts still has a chance to overturn the law in the Halbig case. Had he done so previously, it would have been seen as political. If he does so now, it will be seen as merciful. June will be interesting.

    • TommyTwo

      If he does so, I have no doubt that the usual partisan hacks will be privately relieved and publicly outraged. I can already hear the indignant sputterings: “Just when the ACA was straightening out, these few unelected Bush-appointed retrograde men made a political decision that will throw us into chaos and imperil our health!”

      On a related partisan note, I’m wondering when Republicans will pivot away from the term “Obamacare” to something more like “Democrat-care.”

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