As the first hearings on the failed implementation of Obamacare begin Thursday, with the testimony of the healthcare.gov contractors before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Democrats have already developed their strategy for blunting Republican criticism. They will a) assert that repairs are being made; b) attack critics for “politicizing” the problems; and c) demand the GOP join efforts to support the law.
Along the way, Democrats will cling mightily to the straw man upon which they relied throughout 2009-2010 during the debate over the law: namely, that if you oppose Obamacare you are opposed to providing health care to the working poor, to those with pre-existing conditions, to the temporarily unemployed. They will cover the foreseeable failure of a policy that has already hurt millions with the glory of noble intentions.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, previewed the Democrats’ strategy on Oct. 22, in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s The Situation Room. Cummings made clear that his party will try to deflect criticism of Obamacare by casting it as the latest example of alleged Republican overreach on Obama administration scandals:
BLITZER: I know you must be very frustrated. Were you surprised to learn that apparently no one was really in charge of this Web site rollout, even though they had a couple years to plan for it?
CUMMINGS: Yes, a bit surprised. But Wolf, what we’ve got to concentrate now on is making sure that the Web site works. And I’m hoping that Republicans and Democrats will see this not as a partisan issue, but as one that we have to make work for all the American people. Failure is just not an option….
Keep in mind, Republicans have spent the last few years trying to repeal it over 45 times, trying to defund it, trying to delay it. And so I have not seen a lot of effort on their part to make the law better but simply to destroy it. So that’s the kind of issue that I’m working with, Wolf, on my committee. I’ve got to make sure that we all work together to make sure that the law works for millions upon millions of Americans who need health care….
I think what I’m seeing now is the same play and the same scene all over again. We saw the chairman make strong allegations which were inaccurate with regard to Benghazi and Fast and Furious and IRS. And only to find out that those allegations were simply not accurate and had no basis of fact. So it makes my job a little tougher.
Note that the country has yet to learn the truth of what happened in Benghazi, Fast and Furious, and the IRS scandal. In every case, Cummings has tried to prevent oversight, not to facilitate it. He acknowledges some failures in the administration, and expresses some minimal outrage, but then tries to cast Republicans as witch-hunters rather than trying to hold the executive accountable. Expect more of the same on Obamacare.