Meanwhile Back at the Ranch….

By on November 5, 2013

PrezlexImplementation of the Affordable Care Act limps along at a discouraging rate. The national web site is still plagued with technical problems that get daily attention from the press. New evidence suggests other ways of enrolling are not without peril either. Early enrollment numbers have been low and the average age of new subscribers is higher than expected. President Obama has been out daily giving talks and defending the plan. His pledge that “if you like your insurance you can keep it” is getting slammed frequenty as at least naive, if not an outright lie.

Republicans continue to talk about the ACA as though it were the Fugitive Slave Act or Prohibition come back to us. They refuse to participate in fixing the problems. By now they sound like the little boy who cried wolf on the topic.  Not too many take their on-going hysteria seriously. Even if they are later proved right, no one will look to them for intelligence or leadership on reform. This was a tactical blunder for them. In their zeal to trash the ACA, they have not shown the public that they understand that out-of-control costs and millions of uninsured are a problem, let alone a crisis. They run the risk of becoming irrelevant as a national party, if they cannot wake up and smell the urine soon.

Calls for delaying various parts of the ACA are growing more numerous, but it is hard to see how that would help. Letting young and healthy people continue without coverage will only mean that the near term cost of the program will blow out, which will be used against it by its enemies. It is not surprising new younger subscribers would take their time since they cannot start until January 1. It is not a surprise either that the earliest enrollees would be those who feel they need coverage the most, the sick and high risk. Too many parts of this complicated legislation are interlinked, and we are trying to ‘course correct’ a ‘health care system ocean liner’ that is so far off course, it is not even in the right ocean, if you follow the analogy. The Obama administration is wise to resist calls for delay.

GOPoppOnce we get past this off year election mostly set on local issues and personalties, Democrats need to concentrate primarily on making the ACA work. Communications will be vital. Concessions may be needed, but not if Democrats are to be bludgeoned to death with them by Republicans who hate health care reform and want to get back in office, Their financial performance was less than stellar in the last decade and voters still remember because effects of the Recession linger on. The public finds itself in an unenviable situation. On the left their are those who mean well but struggle to perform effectively, On the right there are those who still seem not to get the problem and long to get their hands on the steering wheel. It’s a crisis of competence.

In the end, competence and managerial skills will carry the day in November of 2014. Building trust is crucial as well. The party that succeeds best at this has the best shot at the White House in 2016. If neither seems up to the task, then the emergence of a centrist-right third party candidate seems all the more likely. Voters want someone who can take care of business, and their social needs. Franklin Roosevelt seemed to do that for them in the 1930’s. Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950’s. Ronald Reagan in the 1980’s. Who’s next?

About Tom Godfrey

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