President Obama and his Democrat allies are continuing the game of Election Leapfrog that they started in 2010. What is that? you might be asking. It’s a strategy geared to twin objectives: (1) getting the Affordable Health Care Act (a.k.a. “Obamacare”) fully established before most voters realize the mess that it will be for them; and (2) assuring continued electoral success for the Democratic Party. Here’s how it works.
First, the entire game is pegged to the two-year congressional election cycle. The first play came in 2010, soon after Obamacare was enacted. Passage was planned for 2009, in order to furnish adequate time to quell voter-disquiet over the corrupt way in which the law was pushed through. But the quick passage attempt failed, leaving too little time before the election to counteract the damaging publicity broadcast by the Tea Party and other groups that opposed the act. In addition, some Democrats had evidently convinced themselves that voters would largely applaud and accept the AHCA. Consequently, the Party took a historic “shellacking” (Mr. Obama’s own word) in ‘10 – losing several Senate seats and their control of the House of Representatives.
Dems cunningly designed the AHCA to facilitate the Election Leapfrog game, by delaying rollout of the government’s central internet site until the 2012 elections were safely past. Few Democrats said much about the landmark legislation in 2012, hoping that voters would be distracted by the much-hyped “war on women” and inane tales about Mr. Romney’s mistreatment of his dog. Mr. Obama, himself, barely mentioned his signature legislation during his re-election campaign. Now we also know that the key requirements-definition and design phases of the AHCA web-tool were delayed until 2013 to keep undesirable details of the legislation from perturbing the election.
Besides concealing Obamacare’s disadvantageous details to protect the election, the Obama White House evidently launched a determined effort in 2010 to cripple the Tea Party and other anti-AHCA groups by directing the Internal Revenue Service to delay or even deny applications from those groups for tax-exempt status. This serious corruption of the IRS, on an unprecedented scale – for which the White House denies any direct responsibility – clearly dampened conservative political activism in the 2012 election. Some political analysts believe it may actually have succeeded in tipping the election to Mr. Obama. After initially denouncing this IRS misbehavior, Mr. Obama has lately taken to calling the whole matter a “phony scandal.” His changed posture on it probably reflects a sense that Big Media have lost interest in the story.
Disclosure of the IRS scandal, revelations of widespread spying on Americans by the National Security Agency, and release of classified details of NSA’s data-collection by former employee Edward Snowden collectively furnished convenient cover, during early 2013, for the anticipated AHCA rollout, which insiders must have expected to be chaotic. Distracted by disclosure of one scandal after another, reporters had little time or energy left to inquire into how Obamacare’s opening day was shaping up. Thus, there was no advance warning of the web-site’s disastrous crash on takeoff, and for the huge uproar that resulted.
As the bumbling rollout of the AHCA’s ill-tested web-site proceeded (if “proceeded” is a valid verb to use), voters began to discover the nasty gremlins hidden inside the legislation. Possibly the worst of these was the discovery, by millions of people, that Mr. Obama’s solemn promises that they could keep health-care plans they liked were complete rubbish. Barely a month into the law’s opening, some 5 million individuals, who had thought they were safely insured, found their policies cancelled and family budgets wrecked by the new high-premium, high-deductible policies found on the Obamacare web-site.
Angry shouting about this from the hoi polloi – many of which had voted for the Dear Leader’s Hope and Change – forced Mr. Obama to issue a left-handed “apology” in which he expressed “…regret…that people find themselves in this situation, based on assurances from me.” During the months-long uproar over the cancelled policies and the obvious lies politicians ha told about keeping “your policy and doctor,” Mr. Obama has steadfastly declared himself totally ignorant of the prospect that his signature law would cancel millions of insurance policies which failed to offer mandated coverage of birth control, abortion, and other much-hyped Obamacare features.
To quell the noisy protests publicized by a suddenly-awakened media, Mr. Obama graciously issued a one-year extension of current insurance policies, provided insurance companies and state insurance commissioners agreed. Less publicized, however, was the fact that most insurers and state commissioners did not agree to reinstate the old policies. Insurers had no intention of giving up the expensive new policies that the AHCA’s drafters had promised them. State commissioners saw the president’s politically motivated rule-change on current policies as the equivalent of a management demand that a new car model be lengthened by 6 inches, just days before production would start. Mr. Obama’s “fix” had flopped, but the media were no longer paying attention.
Mr. Obama’s claim of ignorance on the policy-cancellations is too sophistic, by half, however. Even some of the president’s political allies have said the president could hardly have failed to know that many existing health insurance policies across the country would flunk the AHCA’s coverage standards, since the law’s new mandates were notable bragging points in the campaign for passage, as well as in the 2012 election. Conversely, if the president really did not recognize how the law would automatically doom many existing policies, then he is either incompetent or is surrounded by an incompetent staff. In other words, either he deliberately lied, or he is a Dummkopf, or his staff are fools. None of these is an attractive alternative. My verdict is that he knew very well what would happen, but was hoping the media would have his back on it.
How does all this help the Election Leapfrog strategy? On the surface, it doesn’t look very good, but Democrats are counting on two proven factors: the media’s short attention-span, and the public’s short-term memory, duration about 6 months. The 2014 election is still 10 months away. Many news events – some of them sure to be sensational – can spring up during that time to push “old” AHCA scandals off the front page. The damaging events mentioned above have already happened, and the bad press on them is past. Time is the Democrats’ friend and the GOP’s enemy. Dems hope to sail serenely through the election with public attention fixed on Christie’s Bridgegate, Michelle’s future Hollywood career, Kim Kardashian’s latest romance, new Bigfoot sightings, the war on women, John Boehner’s dark tan, etc. – anything except Obamacare.
Best of all, the AHCA’s truly destructive troll, the “employer mandate” – whereby insurance policies furnished by companies to their employees will have to meet newly mandated coverage standards and obey rules about who must be covered – has been quietly postponed until after the 2014 election. Republican leaders have warned that the employer mandate will cause health-insurance disruption many times greater than was caused by the 5 million cancelled policies in October. But Mr. Obama has cleverly ensured that the mandate won’t affect the upcoming election. Naturally, he lacks the authority to do this, but so far, no one has challenged the legality of that delay. As in other cases, the president will probably skate free on this one, too.
This describes the essence of the Leapfrog Strategy. Democrats are pretty good at it. Of course, they have years of experience behind them. Only an aroused, determined electorate can defeat these repeated, cynical attempts to keep voters’ attention fixed on trivia instead of on critical matters that will seriously affect their lives. Obamacare is one of those critical issues.
If you think something absolutely must be done to put the country back on the right track, join that aroused electorate and start raising hell (while you still can). Ronald Reagan like to say, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”