Littwin: Obamacare lives!

[dropcap]N[/dropcap]ow that the Obamacare sign-up deadline has more or less passed, it is more or less official: Obamacare is not a catastrophe.

With a little luck, it might even someday be a success. But as of now, not being a catastrophe is all that is required.

And for that, we can thank the many Obamacare detractors.

They set the bar. When the rollout proved to be a disaster, when the sign-up numbers looked bleak, when the poll numbers were in free fall, when Barack Obama’s approval ratings began to cave, when the so-called “cancellation” numbers rolled in, when it looked as if the years of Obamacare-bashing were going to pay off, the news went out: catastrophe, failure, epic failure, disaster, epic disaster.

[pullquote]The Rand Corporation is reporting that 9.5 million previously uninsured people are now insured. Set that number alongside the likelihood that the exchange will hit its target of 7 million and you have to agree with conservative columnist Ross Douthat when he writes, with some regret, that “Obamacare lives!”[/pullquote]

That became the narrative. It used to be enough to say that Obamacare would crash the economy (somehow it hasn’t) or that there would be death panels (which apparently haven’t yet gone into session).

In the National Review, Charles C. W. Cooke put it plainly: “Obamacare: Worst Policy Disaster Ever? Period.”

Now we have the answer. No, it isn’t. Exclamation point.

We don’t know all the numbers, but we know enough of them. The big news on the final day was that the traffic on was so jammed that the system crashed. You’ll remember the first day when the system crashed, and the Obama administration tried, vainly, to explain it away by saying it was the traffic. This time, it seems as if it really was.

Despite the glitches, which this time really were glitches, Obama officials said 3 million had made it to Another million reportedly got through on the phone.

But that wasn’t the biggest news. The Los Angeles Times has put together what may be the most comprehensive Obamacare account — much of it based on yet-to-be-published Rand Corporation numbers — showing that at least 9.5 million previously uninsured people are now insured. That was before the full-on race to the finish line, which wasn’t really the finish line. To the dismay of Republicans, those who still wish to sign up for Obamacare have weeks to do so if they simply say that they didn’t have time to finish. (This just in for conspiracy theorists: Does that explain the last-day glitches?)

You put that 9.5 million number alongside the likelihood now that the exchange number will hit its target of 7 million and you have to agree with conservative columnist Ross Douthat when he writes, with some regret, that “Obamacare lives!”

On the same day, a Washington Post-ABC poll came in with the news that 49 percent approved of Obamacare against 48 percent who didn’t. That’s not a great number. It’s not even particularly good. But it’s definitely not a catastrophe. And, in fact, it’s the first time that Obamacare had ever come in on the plus side in this poll.

Some are already calling the poll an outlier, and maybe it is. But what’s clear is the improvement from last November, in the days of the disastrous rollout, when the numbers were 40 to 57 against. The momentum seems to have shifted.

Still, you can hardly blame Republicans for going all in when the opportunity came. The first year was always going to be the most difficult. If Obamacare was going to fail, it was going to fail at the start.

And they had heard the Rand Paul warning that if Obamacare goes into effect, people will get hooked on it. This wasn’t just a matter of the Republican takers vs. makers paradigm. As the Incidental Economist blog pointed out, the Congressional Budget Office predicts Obamacare numbers will take off. The CBO has Medicaid enrollees growing by 50 percent by 2015 and the exchange number to double. It predicts the exchanges to hit as many as 25 million by 2017. How do you repeal the law then? Quick answer: You don’t.

Sure, questions abound. Whether enough young people will sign up. Whether the premiums will shoot up. Whether the insurance is good enough to keep its enrollees. Whether word of mouth will encourage or discourage others. There’s still the mandate — the least popular part of Obamacare — and there are the fines to come.

The political question is what this all means for November and whether it hurts Republican chances to retake the Senate. Republicans will say the numbers are skewed. One senator has said the books were cooked. And whatever the momentum, Democrats are still on the defensive, and it is the dreaded sixth year of the Obama administration. Even Nate Silver says the Republicans are now favored. A Washington Post blog put the Republican chances at 80 percent.

Of course, that was when the lie of the year — as Politifact judged it, anyway — was Obama’s claim that you could keep your insurance policy if you liked it. But, just days ago, we had John Boehner claiming that, because of the so-called cancellations, fewer people had health insurance now than when Obamacare began.

It was hardly believable when Boehner said it. It’s obviously untrue now.

And now that the new numbers are in, someone, it seems, will have to come up with a new lie.


  1. Here’s what else Ross Douthat said about Obamacare:

    “We don’t know yet what the paid enrollment looks like or how successfully the program is actually enrolling the uninsured We don’t know what the age-and-health-status composition of the enrollee pools looks like or what that means for premiums next year and beyond. We don’t know if any of the suspended/postponed provisions of the law will actually take effect. And we certainly don’t know what any of this means for social policy in the long run.”

    Mr. Littwin’s desperation is clear. He is calling Obamacare successful because (wait for it) it’s not a catastrophe. Better yet, to bolster his unwarranted joy he uses a “yet-to-be-published” report and a poll he admits may be an outlier.

    You can’t make this stuff up.

    A non-outlier March, 2014 AP poll found only 26 percent support Obamacare, which may explain why Mr. Littwin sought comfort elsewhere.

    But here’s the real reason not even Mr. Littwin believes what he’s writing: He has yet to discuss or even mention Florida’s recent special Congressional election or the role Obamacare played in deciding the winner.

    On March 11th Florida’s 13th Congressional District held an election to fill the seat vacated by the death of Republican Bill Young who died on October 18, 2013. The election pitted Republican David Jolly against Democrat Alex Sink.

    Here’s how Tampa Bay Times political analyst Adam C. Smith summarized the results of that election which was won by Mr. Jolly:
    “In Alex Sink, Democrats had a better-funded, well-known nominee who ran a strong campaign against a little-known, second- or third-tier Republican who ran an often wobbly race in a district Barack Obama won twice. Outside Republican groups — much more so than the under-funded Jolly campaign — hung the Affordable Care Act and President Obama on Sink.
    It worked.”

    Some Coloradans will suggest Mr. Littwin’s lack of interest in the Florida election is driven by the fact that it doesn’t involve Colorado politics. First of all, that has never stopped him in the past. Secondly, would Mr. Littwin have written about Florida’s special election had the results been different? Not only yes, but hell, yes! Ad nauseam.

    But much more importantly, it does involve Colorado politics because of the issue Congressman-elect Jolly rode to victory: Obamacare.

    When Representative Cory Gardner entered the race for the Senate seat currently held by Mark Udall, Mr. Littwin was very dismissive of the idea that running against Obamacare would be enough to elect Gardner saying, “How many TV ads will it take before people start to tire of hearing Udall being blamed for a project for which he provided little more than his own vote?”

    Well, in Florida it was enough to defeat a Democrat that didn’t even provide that.

    Even today, Mr. Littwin remains dismissive saying, “If at this point, Obamacare is simply a shaky proposition, that’s not good enough.”

    Well, here’s how left-leaning columnist Margaret Carlson viewed the election:
    “So how much of a drag was President Barack Obama? Did Obamacare sink Sink? The answer to the first is some (Obama has sunk in popularity since his win in Florida in 2012). And on the second, yes, Obamacare really hurt. Sink slightly outspent Jolly, but of his $4 million-plus much went to attacks on the Affordable Care Act, its rocky rollout, its higher premiums, its various other maladies. And Jolly was clear what he would do. While Sink said she would go to Washington to fix Obamacare, Jolly, channeling Washington Republicans, harped on the promise that he would go there to repeal it.”

    And that’s why the Florida special election is dead to Mr. Littwin.
    Memorial Day – May 26, 2014

  2. 6 million signed up to replace their insurance they lost. Still 30 million uninsured for a cost of over $500 billion. Hell, would could just buy them all their own doctor.

    Did you get a nice subsidy for your insurance Mickie or did you go on Medicaid?

  3. My autistic son, who is inCollege with 3 scholarships lost his Kaiser plan in January that was very good, covered everything for a reasonable price and deductible. to be replaced by, wait for it…an Obamacare plan that has a massively higher deductible, and doesn’t cover as much. Sorry Mikey, this ain’t politics…it’s now personal for millions of us like my son and I, and you Dems are in for a bloodbath in November…

  4. thrushour,

    I’d love to know more about your story. Was your son covered under a college health plan? Under your health plan? I’m on Kaiser. I didn’t know there were Kaiser plans that didn’t meet the Obamacare standards. What is an Obamacare plan? Did you go on the exchange? If so, why couldn’t you stay with another Kaiser plan? If you could get me some details, this might make for an interesting story. Thanks, Mike Littwin

  5. Mike, you’re very rude to ask people to back up urban legends with facts. Very declasse, as the Eastern elites would say.

  6. Hippie Littwin has zero credibility and after unfortunately standing next to him at the Barnes and Noble at Tremont and 16th Street I can also report that his personal hygiene is just as deficient as his intelligence and honesty are.

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