Phil: Can you explain to me how Democrats think?
Ethan: I’ve been waiting for you to ask that question for five years! It all started with Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republican Party which ultimately became the Democratic Party…
Phil: Let me be more clear and move you to a bit more modern times. Didn’t President Barack Obama absolutely and unequivocally refuse to delay the implementation of the employer mandate a few months ago, resulting in the federal shutdown?
Ethan: Well, I believe that Obama said he would not allow Obamacare to be held hostage to the government shutdown.
Phil: Yes, that is correct. And, as I said, wasn’t the hostage that he wouldn’t allow to be held postponing the mandate?
Ethan: Well, yeah, something like that.
Phil: And didn’t every Democrat in the House vote against postponing the mandate, every time they brought it to the floor?
Ethan: Um, yeah.
Phil: Well, didn’t I just read that Obama delayed the damn employer mandate?! The same mandate he shut down government over?!
Ethan: Breathe, big guy. Breathe.
Phil: OK. Let me try to walk through this calmly. Obama says, “No way will I postpone the mandate” when Republicans propose it. Dems say, “No way will we agree to postpone the mandate” when Republicans propose it. But then, as soon as it is no longer a Republican idea, Obama says, “Postpone the mandate!” and Democrats shrug their shoulders and say nothing.
Ethan: That sounds about right.
Phil: OK, so let me rephrase the question. What in the world are Democrats thinking!
Ethan: (long pause)
Phil: Is it possible that I have actually left you speechless?
Ethan: You know something, Phil, in all honesty, I wish I could explain the logic. But I can’t. Obama was right to say no to blackmail. He was right to say no to postponing the mandate. And Dems were right to back him up in both. But for the life of me, I cannot figure out his strategy for now undermining one of the cornerstones of the law — requiring large employers to provide coverage or pay a penalty.
Phil: So, I am not crazy?
Ethan: I didn’t say that. Your belief that having government provide fewer services to those in need somehow leads to greater freedom for everyone else is what causes most to think you’re crazy. I simply agreed with you that Obama’s decision to delay doesn’t make sense. It is both bad policy and bad politics.
Phil: I’ll have to disagree with you on the first part of that. It is definitely good policy to postpone the employer mandate because more unemployment was about to spill over into the fragile employment statistics. Perhaps that will give time for the politicians who get theirs free from “we the taxpayer” to understand this is not working.
Ethan: Just the opposite. The best effects of this law will not be fully felt until we get the law fully implemented, and everyone starts enrolling. The more Obama listens to Republicans and pushes these benefits off, the longer it will take to get America the affordable coverage we need.
Phil: Listen to Republicans? Are you crazy? He berates, ignores and insults them. It’s the pressure from Democrats who have made it clear privately that if he doesn’t face reality now, he will face the reality of having Republicans in the majority in the House and Senate come January 2015.
Ethan: Well, if this is a political decision to protect his party, he needs Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod back in a hurry. Making these changes will allow Republicans to hammer Democrats across the country with, “We told you the law wouldn’t work. And now even Obama agrees.” Terrible politics.
Phil: Perhaps, but I might argue the alternative ad would have been worse when the economy started losing jobs and people had to give up their health care plans. Even a backwoods Mainer like me could have produced that ad.
Ethan: So, what are you suggesting? That he go back to Congress and work with them to make changes? I’m not feeling a sense of collegiality from your team. Their modus-operandi these days seems to be blackmail.
Phil: I’ve been trying to tell you just that. Unless and until Obama goes to Congress to amend the law so that “we the people” — the customer — have incentives to be healthy and cost-conscious, this government regulated and re-regulated bill may well elect even more legislators you label “knuckle-draggers.”
Ethan: Well, if Obama keeps bowing to pressure and amending this thing the way the knuckle-draggers have demanded, you may indeed be right. I say that’s all the more reason to stick to your guns and stay the course.
Phil: Now, what were you saying about Thomas Jefferson…?