Democratic Panic: Still All About Healthcare.gov

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 18 2013 11:05 AM

Democratic Panic: Still All About Healthcare.gov

I've been collecting the most doomy predictions of how Obamacare will undo liberalism. This is not to prove that these predictions are wrong. Honest liberals admit that the early failures of the implementation, and the public backlash to plan cancellations, challenge their worldview in two huge ways. One: They rattle faith in government's ability to do anything right, something that wasn't exactly on the upswing. Two: They suggest that millions of people are rebelling against paternalism in favor of a sort of health-insurance libertarianism that ties their financial fate to luck and risk.

Still: Come on with this stuff. Josh Kraushaar writes in National Journal that the 39-vote Democratic rump for the Upton bill hints at doom to come.

There's not much time left on the election clock to turn things around. They've shown unfailing loyalty to the president, but unless he manages an unlikely fourth quarter comeback, those bonds could break.
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It's Nov. 18, 2013. The next election is on Nov. 4, 2014. That's "not much time"? That's oceans of time. If we're closing in on the fourth quarter, maybe it's one of those fourth quarters that's dragged out to three hours by weather danger and constant injuries. 

You can find anonymous Democrats to panic about anything, and you can find plenty of Democrats willing to trash implementation so far, on the record. But recently, when I was talking to one of the Democrats assigned to win House seats in 2014, I got the impression that the panic is tied largely to the crisis of healthcare.gov. If the website sucked wind through Thanksgiving, said the Democrat, it was dreadful but, for Democrats, survivable. If it failed into 2014? That would blow open doors for Republican-led delay bills, and the party's vulnerable members would start to endorse those bills, because what choice would they have?

Day to day, it's very easy to write a "collapse of liberalism" story. Talk to Democrats, though, and you learn that to a staggering degree they think a fixed website would end the general crisis. One month of increased signups—that's all they want. Ask them how they feel in mid-December.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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