Fournier’s Obamacare Follow-Up: Let’s Talk About Number 8

We have the best minds working on this today

fournier_croppedWell, I don’t know if they are, but I’ve asked them to.

Ron Fournier’s got the ball rolling with a thoughtful and thorough piece following the president’s spike-the-ball, Mission Accomplished announcement of reaching the 7 million enrollment goal for Obamacare (Obamacare Survives, Now Can It Be Fixed?).

And he’s helpfully arranged it in numbered outline so we can begin the arduous task of analyzing the analysis and then arguing about it.

I don’t have a lot of nits to pick until Item 8:

8. Will common sense prevail over partisanship? As my colleague Sam Baker noted, “Republicans predicted it would collapse on itself (didn’t happen), while Democrats swore the public would embrace it as time went on (also didn’t happen).” The partisans were wrong (again), because the truth lurks in the middle:

  • The nation needs a universal health care system.
  • A flawed ACA is the best approach that a divided and dysfunctional Washington could produce at the time.
  • But for Obamacare to be a durable reform, the ACA needs political and policy input from Republicans. Democrats need to be willing to cede some control, and Republicans need to responsibly accept it.

That’s not going to happen any time soon. Not when “fix it” is an empty election-year slogan for the Democratic Party, and when governing from Washington is impossible for the GOP.

I have my own list:

  1. My Ron Fournier Magic Decoder Ring translates “common sense” to mean “the progressive approach all my teachers and colleagues think is middle of the road pragmatism” (Jonah Goldberg, please call your office). “Partisanship” is how Ron consistently labels substantive policy and philosophical differences resulting in political battles.
  2. Ron quotes his colleague Sam Baker to pin predictions of Obamacare’s imminent implosion on Republicans. Actually, those predictions (or wishful thinking) more accurately should be pinned on the GOP establishment and those looking for reasons to dump on Ted Cruz, et al, when he and his allies had the audacity to engage in a game of brinkmanship. Their hope was either repealing Obamacare altogether or putting every Democrat’s name—including the president’s—on a failed policy. For the record, Cruz was widely scorned for his belief that, once it was established, there would be no getting rid of Obamacare.
  3. Why should we all agree that “the nation needs a universal health care system”? Why not remove hindrances to universal care and shrink the pool of the uncared for? Everything is all or nothing for progressives. Sadly, though they usually get their way, “all” is never achieved. Ever. No matter how many years and how much money. Ever.
  4. And if so, why is a “flawed ACA…the best approach that a divided and dysfunctional Washington could produce at the time”? Even if that were true, how is that better than the status quo that was a) achieving the claimed goals of Obamacare more effectively than Obamacare, and b) easier to fix than Obamacare is now?

The problems with Obamacare are structural and conceptual to its roots. Conservatives and conservative-libertarians are never going to stop declaring war on it until a stake is driven through its heart.

This isn’t political. It’s deeply ideological and—to the conservative-libertarian mind—existential.

Obamacare opponents aren’t motivated by a desire to embarrass this, or any, president. They’re motivated by a desire to do the right thing for the American people. Here’s a good example from Jonathan Tobin (Obama TD Dance a Poor Strategy for Dems):

tobinBut it must also be noted that what is most disconcerting about Obama’s arguments is not his blind faith in the value of what he has accomplished as the arrogant contempt for critics that he displays. For Obama, those who continue to oppose this government power grab that has hurt our health care system more than it helps are simply opposed to helping people in need. He is not so much in disagreement with their reasoned arguments or the many examples of those who have been hurt by ObamaCare as he simply thinks his opponents are liars are out to victimize the poor and the sick. His self-regard is matched only by his dishonestly and his desire to demonize those who oppose his plans.

Buy while this is the sort of speech that plays well to hand picked crowds of sycophants, it won’t play as well on the campaign trail this year in swing or red states where Senate seats are at stake. The White House may be urging his party to follow his lead and double down on a law that has always been opposed by most Americans. But that has more to do with Obama seeking to burnish his legacy than the survival of endangered Democrats. Their “fix it, don’t nix it” approach to the issue is already a difficult sell outside of deep blue strongholds. Embracing the president’s stand would be nothing short of a suicide run for any Democrat in trouble. Obama may think the debate is over but what he will find out before the year is over is that it is only getting started.

Until folks like Ron stop looking at everything through a bipolar partisan lens and start looking at the convictional nature of these arguments, we’re never going to find the common ground we need soon enough to actually take care of the uncared for. (For more on this, see this, and this.)


The Obama people should study the case of Gen. Westmoreland and be reminded what happens if the numbers you report day after day turn out to be bogus.

See Part 2


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s