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Topics: Obamacare

Democrats have only themselves to blame for the failure of Obamacare

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Opinion,Noemie Emery,Columnists,Barack Obama,Obamacare,Democratic Party,Health Care,Magazine

Since the start of the year, when it at last became clear that an ill-designed website was merely the least of Obamacare's problems, Democrats have been on a search for a plausible villain on whom this sad state of affairs can be blamed.

E.J. Dionne blames Republican nastiness, but he blames this for everything.

Alec MacGillis at the New Republic blames Republican governors who rejected the expansion of Medicaid: "Obamacare is hurting Democratic candidates because Republicans are hurting Obamacare," runs his article's headline. Well, that explains why the exchanges in Maryland, Oregon and Colorado are all in such chaos: If only they had Democrats in the state houses, who got with the program. Oh wait -- they do have them. So much for that theory.

But in real life, it’s not hard to find some real culprits, in plain sight and right under our nose.

Blame the progressives, who thought a financial collapse was too small a thing on which to waste a good crisis, and thought the time was right to revisit their wish list and dredge up an old cause for which there was no public clamor. The last time, when the Clintons tried it, it did not end well.

Blame President Obama, whose swelled head made him want to do big things too quickly. Blame his hubris, when he decided to ignore and then override a very strong wave of intense opposition and then use a loophole to circumvent the very last roadblock, which the Constitution and Scott Brown's election had managed to put in his way.

Blame the "experts" he named, with sterling credentials and no sense whatsoever, who thought the perverse incentives they built into the bill would be no drag at all on the larger economy; that the 6 million to 10 million people they forced out of their plans in the first phase of the rollout would have no impact at all on public opinion; and that untold numbers of people could be arbitrarily moved from one set of doctors and hospitals into another with the relative ease with which consumers switch brand names and markets.

But patients understand that having one special doctor can mean the difference between cancer caught at stage one or stage three, or treatment begun before and not when a stroke happens; a change in kind and in cost from one’s usual shopping experience. Medical care isn’t a steak one can buy at a number of markets. Obama and his experts had failed to see that.

Blame Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who kept it alive so it could die on its own in full view of the public; blame House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who pushed for the loophole; blame the Democrats who knew this was wrong and said nothing about it; and blame too the pundits, from E.J. Dionne on down to the lowliest bloggers, who kept up the drumbeat once Brown was elected to the Senate that his win should mean nothing at all.

"Pass. The. Damn. Bill." was their mantra, repeated again and again over numerous bylines, with the very same words of advice: No one would care how the bill passed once it was over. No price would be paid for stiffing the public. Obama would emerge from this stronger than ever. All of it certain, and all of it wrong.

Yes, there are people to blame for it all, but not the ones who foresaw and who warned what would happen. And so we can say to these panicking Democrats: Blame. Your. Damn. Selves.

Noemie Emery, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."

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CORRECTION: Alec MacGillis' March 12 New Republic piece was about the expansion of Medicaid. The Washington Examiner regrets the error. This story was updated at 5 p.m. March 27 to reflect the change. 

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Noemie Emery

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The Washington Examiner