The New York Times is exasperated with the lack of progress in Congress of “fixes” to the massive and far-reaching Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. This exasperation has evinced itself in an odd way as the Times seems to be expressing sympathy for lobbyists and businesses trying to make changes to the law.
In a May 26 piece by Jonathan Weisman, the Times complains of gridlock, scolds Republicans for wanting to repeal the massively intrusive law, and highlights the hard work ahead of the lobbyists campaigning for changes.
Interestingly, the paper admits that Obamacare is both deeply flawed and was passed in 2010 without due diligence by Democrats.
The paper, though, dismisses those flaws and points out that most laws of this size go through bouts of revisions and “technical corrections” after passage. In short order the paper goes on to express its heartfelt sympathy with lobbyists seeking those changes.
“But as they prowl Capitol Hill,” Weisman writes, “business lobbyists like Mr. DeFife, health care providers and others seeking changes are finding, to their dismay, that in a polarized Congress, accomplishing them has become all but impossible.”
As the Times sees it, the problem is that Republicans want repeal. They don’t want fixes, they want to eliminate the law and because of that are refusing to offer any of these “technical corrections” preferring instead to let the law “collapse under its own weight”–as GOP Representative Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) says.
The paper also quotes Republican leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) of Kentucky as saying. “I don’t think it can be fixed. Everything is interconnected, 2,700 pages of statute, 20,000 pages of regulations so far. The only solution is to repeal it, root and branch.”
Even Democrat Max Baucus of Montana is fearful of trying to patch Obamacare. “I’m not sure we’re going to get to the point where it’s time to open the bill and make some changes. Once you start, it’s Pandora’s box,” he said.
But the Times notes that as the clock ticks down to 2014 and full implementation of Obamacare nears, “some businesses say that without changes, it may be their undoing.”
The paper goes on to note that major changes are necessary to make Obamacare work. From upping the number of hours worked to determine whether or not an employee is full time–business interests want it raised from 30 hours weekly back to the traditional 40 hours–to how many employees the law determines is a “large” business and open to control under Obamacare, the Times presents a series of changes being sought by lawmakers, businesses, and lobbyists. “But they are facing the same hands-over-the-ears reluctance that business lobbyists and others are finding,” the paper laments.
The Times then goes on to regurgitate the false claim that House Republicans have voted to repeal Obamacare 37 times.
“The last consideration of the health care law came on May 16, when the House voted to repeal it, the 37th time the House has voted to do so. Those bills have died in the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats,” Weisman claims.
This is actually not true at all. The GOP controlled House has not voted to repeal Obamacare 37 times. The House has re-considered 35 different aspects of Obamacare and voted to repeal them, but the lower chamber has not voted to repeal all of Obamacre 37 times. It has only voted twice to repeal the whole of the law.
In fact, many of the votes to repeal certain provisions of Obamacare were bipartisan votes, so putting these votes all on the GOP is also not legitimate.
In any case, the most interesting aspect of the Times article is that the usually anti-business and anti-lobbyist paper is bending over backwards to come to the support of both sectors. Of course, the reason the Times is expressing such sympathy for businesses and lobbyists here is to come to the aid of Obamacre and to scold those Republicans that want it repealed. It is but a case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”