He still thinks he can talk his way out of this. That’s my take-away from President Obama’s just-completed press conference on the ObamaCare debacle.
He was a bit more somber than usual, and he repeatedly said that the rollout disaster was “on me.” But I wasn’t blaming myself, President Obama. I knew it was on you, Mr. President. What I wanted some recognition that the president knows how serious this is. But he actually seemed to think that, glitches aside, ObamaCare is a huge success. He even seemed to think that the pathetic sign-up numbers are promising!
Still, the only time the president seemed to come alive during the press conference was when he talked about people on Capitol Hill—“Republicans in particular”—who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act. I’m beginning to believe that the president is a one trick pony: talking bad about others is the one thing that really turns him on.
The “fix” the president is proposing for the millions of people who lost health insurance policies they liked appears to be mostly cosmetic–and it's his face he's trying to save.
Basically, President Obama is saying that the administration will do something with a regulation to help people get back cancelled policies. It was clear that President Obama thinks that, if you liked these policies, it's because either you're a moron or have never been sick—something cancer patient Edy Sundby might dispute. But, really, you'll be better off with a policy he likes.
Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times described the president’s proposal:
It’s the latest example of the White House trying to work around Congress and instead take action on its own, and in this case it comes as Mr. Obama seeks to stop a wholesale abandonment of his health law by Democrats who have watched the rocky rollout.
“We put a grandfather clause into the law, but it was insufficient,” the president said at the White House as he announced the new loophole he has created.
Under the new loophole, Mr. Obama will leave it up to state health insurance commissioners to decide which sub-standard plans can still be offered by insurance companies, and he has pledged that his administration won’t penalize them for still offering those plans even though they violate the Affordable Care Act. The extension will last only one year.
Republicans were skeptical the administration had the authority to grant exceptions to the law, and they argue the only solution is to change the law through legislation. House Republicans have a bill set for floor action Friday that would do that.
Not sure this will work. It is unclear whether under the new ObamaCare regime insurance companies will have the wherewithal to offer policies that are the same or similar to the policies that have been cancelled. I doubt if the president cares. If the companies find that this is beyond their capabilities, he’ll still feel he is off the hook. He'll just go back to bashing the insurance companies, state insurance commissioners—or whoever. Moreover, this proposed solution may be “extralegal.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner says that the president’s fix isn’t enough and that Congress will try to pass a bill to do more:
After finally acknowledging he repeatedly misled the American people to sell his health care law, the president is asking Americans to trust him again. The President has absolutely no credibility on his promise. True to form, it appears this is little more than a political response designed to shift blame rather than solve the problem.
This problem cannot be papered over by another ream of Washington regulations. Americans losing their coverage because of the president’s health care law need clear, unambiguous legislation that guarantees the plan they have and like will still be allowed. That’s why the House will be voting on the Keep Your Health Plan Act tomorrow, and the president should support it.
All in all, it was a pathetic performance on the president’s part. He was braggadocious at times, as when he took full credit for the toughness of the Iran sanctions he seeks to undo, and studded his remarks with faux humility. He admitted that the administration had “fumbled” on the rollout of ObamaCare. That’s on a par with the “Otherwise, how did you enjoy the play, Mrs. Lincoln?” joke. He managed to work in the now-forgotten government shutdown, which may or may not have been dumb but is definitely not going to affect whether you can get your chemotherapy.
When asked whether he had been informed whether the website was ready, the president said, “I was not informed directly.” What the heck does that mean? Was he told indirectly?
The president had a difficult assignment: pretending to take responsibility, while portraying oneself as at the same time above it all. He will always be our Eddie Haskell.
After the press conference, John Podhoretz tweeted that the president had confirmed what Podhoretz had written earlier in the day in the New York Post. One of the ideas of the Post column, which compared President Obama’s handling of ObamaCare with how President Bush conducted the Iraq War, is that nobody is actually running ObamaCare:
Obama focused on making sure the health-care plan would survive its political and legal challenges. He succeeded, just as the US military succeeded in toppling Saddam. What he failed to consider was the possibility that his new health-care system might be a piece of junk.
Just as Bush needed to win the war, Obama needed his system to function like a well-oiled machine. But he took no steps to ensure it would, and now he’s reaping the whirlwind.
It was clear from the press conference that, while the president is willing to offer some small fix, he remains fully committed to his signature piece of legislation. He’s had no epiphanies. He has not stopped and rethought anything. He may not care whether the fix works.