Topics: Obamacare

Morning Examiner: Are Democrats prepared to run on single payer in 2014?

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Last week, progressive groups, including Americans United for Change, the Center for American Progress, and the Service Employees International Union, held a conference call promoting a poll Hart Research did on Obamacare. The poll found that just 15 percent of Americans want to leave Obamacare as is. Another 25 percent thought the law only needed minor changes. And the overwhelming majority of Americans, 57 percent, either want Obamacare repealed outright (39 percent) or want major changes to the law (18 percent).

Obamacare isn’t working
Democrats know that Obamcare is failing as is. President Obama has already unilaterally suspended the employer mandate for a year, unions hit by the tax on health insurance are in open revolt, the Health and Human Services Inspector General says the health exchanges will not adequately protect Americans’ privacy, and the same IG says the health care co-ops aren’t likely to be commercially viable. The Democrats solution to this, as recommended by the Hart polling memo, is to admit Obamacare isn’t perfect, but to stress that Democrats want to improve the law.

House Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn, D-S.C., echoed this message on Sunday, when he told CNN‘s Candy Crowley, “The fact of the matter is if we’d go back to the founding of the country, every time we’ve tried to do something big, we’ve had to tweak it later on. … We’ve had to fix Social Security often. We’ve had to do things with Medicare often, and we’ll have to do a lot of things with Obamacare as well because things change, circumstances change and people change. Needs are different.”

Single-payer is still the goal
But how do Democrats want to change Obamacare? Do they want to end the employer mandate? Repeal the tax on expensive health insurance plans? Those tweaks are not free. New revenues will have to be found to replace the tax on union health insurance plans.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, ending the employer mandate would cost $12 billion a year and throw 500,000 more Americans into the government-run Medicaid program. That would be one very expensive tweak that just happens to throw hundreds of thousands of more Americans into a sub-standard single-payer health care system.

Which, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., reminded us Friday, was always the goal of Obamacare to begin with. Asked by an Las Vegas PBS station if he believed Obamacare would ultimately lead to a single-payer health care system, Reid responded, “Yes, yes. Absolutely, yes.” Reid continued, “What we’ve done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we’re far from having something that’s going to work forever.”

The question of the 2014 elections
And that really is the question for the 2014 elections: Do Americans want to vote for Democrats and go further down the road towards single-payer health care, or do they want step on the brakes and start bringing some real free-market reforms to the health care system. If Republicans fail to frame the issue this starkly, 2014 may be a Democratic year at the polls.

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In Other News
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The Columbus Dispatch, Nonprofit fails to make Obamacare insurance market: The federal government provided nearly $130 million in low-interest loans to a Westerville-based nonprofit organization to help ensure that consumers will have choices when shopping the new online federal health-insurance marketplace next year.
The New York Times, Justice Dept. Seeks to Curtail Stiff Drug Sentences: Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. will announce new steps intended to curb soaring taxpayer spending on prisons and help correct what he regards as unfairness in the justice system.

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Dave Weigel on Tom Cotton’s Harvard Crimson columns.
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Righty Playbook
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John Hinderaker on NPR’s bogus Native American kidnapping story.
Stephen Moore says The Budget Sequester Is a Success.
Mark Perry notes that private sector employment is still below its January 2007 level, while oil and gas industry jobs are up by almost 51 percent.

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