Obamacare and the 2014 Midterm ElectionsNovember 16, 2013
Democrats rallied around Obamacare in 2009, and Democrats have kept that rally going at every turn since, opposing Republican efforts to repeal, defund, and defang the law. Democrats have stayed with Obamacare in a sense like a stubborn investor hangs on to a stock whose luster has long faded, the company aimless with no path toward profitability. And while that stock will never turn a profit, to sell it off and liquidate is to realize that loss.
Democrats made a bad investment decision. They staked their popularity, their integrity, for some even their careers on the riskiest of bets -- a health care law that brings one-sixth of the U.S. economy under the control of federal bureaucrats who know little about health care and less about the mechanics of a free economy. As the Obama Administration pressed forward with implementation, Democrats defended the law publicly, ridiculing numerous court challenges and downplaying the disruption of the private insurance industry. And yet -- years later, despite poll numbers for Obamacare that have never improved and the electoral walloping they suffered in 2010, Democrats held onto the belief that the law's successes would turn public opinion positive and solidify their party's standing among wary, middle-ground Americans.
But as the people closest to recent high-profile failures -- Bear Stearns for instance -- will recall, a bad investment sometimes only craters when faced with the most human of reactions: panic. No Supreme Court decision, no Republican majority, no block of voters provoked fear in the hearts and minds of Obamacare supporters more than the Administration itself and its handling of the law's roll-out. How could Democrats spin and defend a law that yielded HeathCare.gov, a federal Web site incapable of a window shopping experience, let alone a secure financial transaction? How could they defend a law that pushed millions of Americans off private insurance policies that they liked and bought freely, allowing them access only to federally approved policies that offer a lesser value proposition? How could they defend the law in light of President Obama's claims that no one would lose their doctor or their insurance policy unless they chose to switch?
Democrats understand two things now. First, they know that their political position is hemorrhaging by the day as the effects of Obamacare are better understood and impact more and more Americans. Second, they know -- or at least fear -- that more shoes will drop as implementation continues. They are keenly aware that the employer mandate, once scheduled to take effect now, will begin for 2015 -- and they fear what consequences may arise. They know that the so-called Cadillac tax on high-end policies is just a few years down the road. And Democrats know that if their political livelihoods look bad today, they will only crumble further as this law furthers its reaches into every American household and employer.
These fears have culminated in an outspoken Democratic political class and punditry expressing outrage at the Administration about its handling of a law they all voted for or supported. This is a last-ditch attempt at cover -- and a pullback from a law that threatens their credibility and careers going forward.
At some point the irrational desire to hang on to a bad investment is trumped by selfish realities. For Democrats invested in Obamacare, it's time to sell.
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