Sorry for the short hiatus, folks.
Speaker John Boehner is very upset that President Obama has granted yet more leeway for people to be signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Expecting - and experiencing - a surge in signups as tomorrow's deadline closes in, the administration has said that they will accommodate people who are in line to sign up by the deadline, whether on-line or over the phone. For people who begin their application process before the deadline but have difficulty completing it because of technical or other problems, they can still complete their application.
Any sensible person looking at this could only laud such a decision as a good business decision. You are allowed to vote so long as you are in line by poll-closing time, your credit card payments count as long as they arrive at your creditor by close of business on your due date (another thing you can thank President Obama for), and if you arrive at a restaurant before the kitchen closes, you are allowed to finish your meal even if the restaurant closes before you do so. So why wouldn't you want to accommodate health care applicants who are in line by the deadline? The basic principle that a system creating backlogs because of traffic - whether foot traffic or online traffic - should not penalize its users is a standard and good business practice.
But not John Boehner. Not when it comes to helping Americans get health care. And certainly not when it comes to the success of a law that his own party attached President Obama's name to as a pejorative.
Nonetheless, even John Boehner should know that his bark has no bite. For one thing, this is accepted business practice all across America. Second, the administration is charged with executing the law, which means interpreting it withing accepted parameters and precedence. The accepted parameters abound throughout American law and society as demonstrated above. And the accepted precedence was set by none other than Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, when his administration extended the deadline for seniors to sign up for Medicare Part D benefits. To quote Rick Perry, Oops.
None of the Republican concern-trolling about administrative flexibility in Obamacare is, of course, about their professed sticklership for making the law work as intended. If it were, they would work with Democrats and the president to provide changes to the law that would make it easier for people to sign up, or at least, brought their own governors in line - governors who are now denying health insurance to 5 million Americans, most of them working adults.
One could see the GOP whining as yet another opportunity for them to beat up on Obamacare, and it is. But the loud shreaking you hear coming from the Right isn't merely about them trying to make a point that the law doesn't work (it clearly does). The meltdown is about something different: a pathetic cry to claw on the chalkboard (sorry) as they see the overwhelming interest in Obamacare taking away yet another one of their talking points: that no one wants it because it misses the benchmark number the CBO projected in terms of enrollment by the end of this month.
As of four days ago, the exchanges blew past the adjusted CBO estimates of 6 million enrollment, and as interest and traffic surges, analysts are suddenly changing their tunes about how close to the original 7 million estimate the exchanges will enroll. This, despite the poor website rollout and consistent GOP and media freakouts about why the entire law must be dumped because... ZOMG the website is slow!!!!!
The truth is that yes, the rollout was executed poorly, in large part because it underestimated the flood of traffic on Day One. But because the flood of traffic also paradoxically proved that interest was overwhelming, as the Administration plugged away at fixing the Healthcare.gov site, enrollment numbers began to balloon. Sure, because of the bad rollout, the exchanges have been playing catch-up. But now, the Republicans' worst nightmare is coming true: the exchanges have now pretty much caught up!
And if people who are in line at the last minute before open enrollment closes to enroll are allowed to stay in line and actually enroll - like most business and government practices - the GOP looks at it a sort of game-over. If the Affordable Care Act is able to meet every single one of its benchmarks, their talking points sound even hollower.
They know that the president has them in a catch 22: if they truly believe this is an illegal move, they should sue. If they sue, Democrats will have a field day pointing out that Republicans are suing to keep people from buying private health insurance! Not to mention the lawsuit itself won't hold up. Even if they don't file a lawsuit, they have to explain to voters why it is they oppose people who are already in line for their applications being allowed to complete it.
John Boehner is upset. But not because why he says he's upset. He's upset because the President is still running circles around him and the laziest Congress ever.
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