Obama Care Train Wreck   2 comments

I think Senator Max Baucus of Montana is worried about reelection. Baucus was intimately involved in writing ObamaCare, but when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius appeared before the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, chairman Baucus scolded her about the “coming train wreck” posed by implementation of the bill.

Under the timeline of the law, health care exchanges are supposed to be open for enrollment on Oct. 1 and ready to dole out benefits at the start of 2014. Baucus expressed skepticism that exchanges would actually be open in every state, including Montana, and he spoke of the confusion about the law he encounters when he goes back home.

“The administration’s public information campaign on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act I think deserve a failing grade,” Baucus told Sebelius. “You need to fix it.”

He continued, “I am very concerned that not enough is being done so far. Very concerned. When I am home, small businesses have no idea what to do, what to expect. They don’t know what affordability rules are, they don’t know what penalties may apply, they just don’t know.”

Baucus said that a CPA told him that small business clients are “throwing their hands up” and the CPA doesn’t know what to tell them.

“I just see a huge train wreck coming down,” Baucus warned. “You and I have discussed this many times and I don’t see any results yet.”

Baucus is up for reelection in Montana next year in a state that went for Mitt Romney by a more than 13 percent margin and Cook Political Report rates him as vulnerable. Though the race is still considered to lean in his direction as the incumbent, if the implementation of Obamacare goes as disastrously as many expect, he’s probably in trouble.

With his fingerprints all over the law, Baucus cannot really run away from it, so he’s laying the groundwork to blame any failures on implementation, rather than design. The “train wreck” comment drew the most headlines, but this comment is the more important one. “If the administration implements it correctly, millions more Americans will gain access to health care as a result of the law.” In essence, he’s saying the law itself is fine, but the bureaucrats are screwing it up.

Politically, the strategy is similar to the one many Republicans who voted for the Iraq War pursued when the public soured on the war. They’d defend their support for the war effort while finding a way to distance themselves from elements of President Bush’s strategy, such as troop levels. Ultimately, this didn’t shield many Republicans from the Democratic wave in 2006 and, if Obamacare implementation fails, a Baucus-style pivot probably won’t save vulnerable Democrats.

Bye-bye, Baucus and bye-bye, Mark Begich. Good riddance! Don’t let the gate hit you on the way out!

2 responses to “Obama Care Train Wreck

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  1. “the Democratic wave in 2006 and, if Obamacare implementation fails, a Baucus-style pivot probably won’t save vulnerable Democrats.”

    I think you mean WHEN Obamacare implementation fails.


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