Democrats confronted by the massive problems caused by Obamacare – millions of plans canceled, spiking premiums, lost doctors – have retreated to a vague promise to fix the law. But how can the American people trust the very politicians who told the infamous "if you like your plan, you can keep it" lie to actually fix their own mess. What, specifically, do they want to fix? How?
Democracy Corps, the polling outfit led by James Carville and Stan Greenberg, is advising Democratic candidates to say: "We need to make it work for small businesses and get costs down. Give people more time and let them keep their current insurance if they want. So fix it, but build on the really good changes."
That sounds promising. So I looked for the Democratic proposals to get costs down and fix Obamacare in the Democratic budget, their official policy blueprint and agenda-setting document. I found two pages about Obamacare. But all they do is sing its praises:
"The Affordable Care Act will expand affordable coverage to 25,000,000 people by the end of the decade, and already, millions of Americans have health insurance under this law," the Democratic budget says – even though the administration refuses to give the public an honest account of newly insured individuals, and millions of others have lost their plans.
"The Affordable Care Act ensures that health insurance coverage will always include basic necessary services such as prescription drugs," the Democratic budget says – even though the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society says Obamacare is making specialty drugs more expensive "for the sickest patients."
"The Affordable Care Act increases transparency in health care, helping to reduce health care cost growth," the Democratic budget says – even though the latest data on premiums, a new survey of 148 health insurance brokers from Morgan Stanley finds premiums spiking 12 percent in the individual market and 11 percent in the small group market, the biggest increases in years.
"The Affordable Care Act reforms Federal health entitlements by using nearly every health cost-containment provision experts recommend… and the elimination of excessive taxpayer subsidies to private insurance plans," the Democratic budget says in a euphemistic way of touting the law's cuts to the popular Medicare Advantage program – even though the administration just announced it is delaying those cuts yet again to reduce political pain for Democrats.
"The Affordable Care Act will reduce the Federal deficit by more than $1,000,000,000,000 over the next 20 years," the Democratic budget says – even though an honest analysis of the numbers makes it clear Obamacare will increase budget deficits.
Then the section on Obamacare ends with this defiant statement of policy: "the law of the land should support making affordable health care coverage available to every American family, and therefore the Affordable Care Act should not be repealed."
And that's it. Don't repeal it. Don't acknowledge any of the problems. Don't do anything to help any of the people whose lives have been thrown into disarray. And certainly don't do anything to "fix it."
It couldn't be clearer: members who vote for this budget think Obamacare does not need to be fixed. Indeed it's hard to read the Democratic budget as anything but a celebration of Obamacare exactly as it is – and that adds insult to the many Americans who have been injured by the law.
Anyone can give a stump speech about wanting to fix Obamacare. But no lesser authority than the vice president of the United States has repeatedly told me: "Don't tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I will tell you what you value."
The House Democrats have shown us their budget and we can tell they have zero interest in fixing Obamacare. "Fix it" is the new Lie of the Year.