For example, CNN’s Jake Tapper recently asked Rep. Steve Israel, a leading congressional Democrat, whether the bill’s supporters “were as forthright about some of the issues as they could have been” during the Obamacare debate. Tapper specified not just the president’s keep-your-coverage promise but “some of the trade-offs” of the law that favor some Americans over others. “If you could go back in time, do you think there should have been more honest salesmanship?” Tapper asked.
“Well, there should have been certainly more precise education and more precise salesmanship, there’s no question about that,” Israel said. “But you can’t go back in time.”
Yes, you can. Not literally; of course Democrats can’t have a do-over. But the American people can certainly go back in time and examine the Democratic sales job for Obamacare in light of today’s reality. The president and his party knew full well the trade-offs they were making; they just didn’t tell the rest of the country.
All during the debate, Democratic officeholders, aides, policy wonks, advocates and sympathetic journalists all knew coverage cancellations would be coming as part of Obamacare. Of course, the president knew, too. When Obama made the keep-your-coverage promise, over and over, those Washington insiders accepted the untruth as a necessary part of the process, something Democrats had to do to pass their bill.
But millions of Americans didn’t get the memo and took Obama at his word. And now that the promise has been proven false, the president is trying to recover his credibility — his desire to do so was painfully evident at his long and sometimes rambling news conference — and his party is searching for cover.
There won’t be any. In coming days, Republicans, who voted unanimously against Obamacare, will be happy to remind the public of what Democrats promised. On Thursday afternoon, for example, the House GOP leadership published a list of quotes from 61 House Democrats pledging that if Americans liked their health coverage they could keep it. And in the Senate, for those vulnerable Democrats up for re-election in 2014, the accountability could be quite painful indeed.