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Defending the Indefensible

Barack Obama sent out his cohorts to try and spin Obamacare on the Sunday shows over the weekend. Unfortunately for them, it's hard to defend the indefensible. Dan Pfeiffer, David Axelrod and Ezekiel Emanuel tried their best to spin their way out of this failure.

What's amazing to me is that there are still some people who are trying to defend Obamacare and not dealing in reality. Ezekiel Emanuel tried to pin the blame on insurance companies rather than Barack Obama and is precious healthcare law. Apparently people like Emanuel (the architect of Obamacare) are unaware that laws have consequences, and the private market reacting to government regulations is not the fault of private businesses. I don't believe the American public is buying this line, just as Obama tried to pin the blame on “bad apple” insurers last week.

Notice how the administration is now trying to change the original promise of “if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan. Period.” Dan Pfeiffer has apparently changed the goal post for this administration by telling us that if your plan “hasn't been changed or canceled,” you can keep it. Are you kidding me? How about the millions of Americans who are losing their plans or seeing them change dramatically? This administration seems to want to downplay how many Americans are being effected, but the AP estimates that it is upwards of 3.5 million already, and that is without data from all 50 states. When all is said and done, a Daily Caller report estimates that 129 million Americans will lose their current health coverage. But if you ask the New York Times, they are now claiming that the president simply “misspoke” in promising you could keep your current coverage. What a joke. No wonder Americans have a hard time taking the mainstream media seriously.

While the issues surrounding Obamacare are much deeper than just the website, the embarrassing rollout of just adds to the frustration. We are over a month removed from its launch and yet the website will be down every night until the tech team can make the necessary fixes. The website was also out for twelve hours over the weekend. Perhaps the biggest glaring issue with the website remains the security and privacy concerns. Over the weekend the Heritage Foundation had a report of someone trying to enter into the exchange who was able to access eligibility letters addressed to individuals from another state. In a rare moment of bi-partisan agreement, both the Democrat and Republican chairmen of the congressional intelligence committees believe the website needs to be taken down until it is properly fixed.

What's become clear is that technical reality and pragmatic policy were trumped by political expediency. A piece in the Washington Post over the weekend highlights this profound mis-step:

In May 2010, two months after the Affordable Care Act squeaked through Congress, President Obama’s top economic aides were getting worried. Larry Summers, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, and Peter Orszag, head of the Office of Management and Budget, had just received a pointed four-page memo from a trusted outside health adviser. It warned that no one in the administration was “up to the task” of overseeing the construction of an insurance exchange and other intricacies of translating the 2,000-page statute into reality.

Summers, Orszag and their staffs agreed. For weeks that spring, a tug of war played out inside the White House, according to five people familiar with the episode. On one side, members of the economic team and Obama health-care adviser Zeke Emanuel lobbied for the president to appoint an outside health reform “czar” with expertise in business, insurance and technology. On the other, the president’s top health aides — who had shepherded the legislation through its tortuous path on Capitol Hill and knew its every detail — argued that they could handle the job.

In the end, the economic team never had a chance: The president had already made up his mind, according to a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to be candid. Obama wanted his health policy team — led by Nancy-Ann De­Parle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform — to be in charge of the law’s arduous implementation. Since the day the bill became law, the official said, the president believed that “if you were to design a person in the lab to implement health care, it would be Nancy-Ann.”

The Washington Post goes on to quote a Harvard professor and 2008 Obama health advisor, “They were running the biggest start-up in the world, and they didn’t have anyone who had run a start-up, or even run a business.” That really hits at the heart of what we are witnessing: Obama has a profound faith in government and puts politics above pragmatism and reality.

The Wall Street Journal provided similar insight over the weekend in crafting Obama's now-infamous message of “if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it.” The WSJ writes, “One former senior administration official said that as the law was being crafted by the White House and lawmakers, some White House policy advisers objected to the breadth of Mr. Obama's 'keep your plan' promise. They were overruled by political aides, the former official said. The White House said it was unaware of the objections.” Politics above reality.

The bottom line is that Barack Obama's chief legislative achievement isn't turning out to be so grand for America and politically, for members of his own party. Democrats in the Senate are now begging the White House to fix Obamacare, recognizing that the prolonged political fallout from this disaster hurts their chances in 2014. In particular, Democrats like Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina, are all particularly vulnerable. Perhaps these Democrats should have thought about the ramifications of such a law – or maybe even read it first! – before passing it on a party-line vote on Christmas Eve.

Now for some of the latest additional resources related to Obamacare …

If you read nothing else today, read this powerful op-ed in the WSJ: You Also Can't Keep Your Doctor: I had great cancer doctors and health insurance. My plan was cancelled. Now I worry how long I'll live (WSJ)

Obamacare Phone, Paper Applications Plagued as Much as Website: Internal memo describes paper applications as allowing 'people to feel like they are moving forward' (Washington Free Beacon)

Small businesses race to renew health plans early: Companies seek to beat large increases in premiums that will hit when new rules under the Affordable Care Act take effect Jan. 1. (USA Today)

For consumers whose health premiums will go up under new law, sticker shock leads to anger (Washington Post)

The seniors getting hurt by Obamacare: Medicare Advantage patients are getting hurt in just the way that critics of the President's plan warned that they would (NY Daily News)

Ron Fournier: Will Insularity, Incompetence, and Lies Doom Obamacare? Four lessons from the launch that could save the law and health care coverage for millions. (National Journal)

Gingrich: Obamacare Is 'Anti-Marriage and Pro-Divorce' (CNSNews)

Mitt Romney attack best yet on health law: Accuses Obama of “fundamental dishonesty” (Boston Herald)

Twitter keeps suspending account critical of Obamacare (Daily Caller)

Media skip disclosure of paid Obamacare shill (Daily Caller)

High Deductibles Chase the Middle Class from Health Services (American Thinker)