Mr. President, for America's sake, please, please, listen to your hometown newspaper.
On some level, then, the president plainly agrees with critics of Obamacare, this page included, that the law needs to be rewritten: He and his administration keep rewriting its major components — remember the mandate that sizable employers offer coverage in 2014? — as practicalities and politics demand.
But in this country we don't change bad laws by presidential fiat. We change them by having Congress rewrite them or by starting from scratch. Obama doesn't want to reopen this law for fear that Republicans and some Democrats will substantially rewrite it. But that's what has to happen.
We understand why the president and leaders of his party want to rescue whatever they can of Obamacare. On their watch, official Washington has blown the launch of a new entitlement program ... under the schedule they alone set in early 2010.
What we don't understand is their reluctance to give that failure more than lip service. Many of the Americans who heard their president say Thursday that "we fumbled the rollout of this health care law" would have been pleased to hear him add: So we're admitting it. This law is a bust. We're starting over.
Epic failure of the development and launch of the federal exchange website? Check
Modifications to the stipulations of the law by whim of the executive? (Delaying the employer mandat until after 2014 midterms) Check
Handouts to favored businesses, favored constituencies? Check
Fraudulent statements about the nature of the new law? ("If you like your plan you can keep it. Period.") Check
Fraudulent statements about the nature of the law's financing. (It's a mandate! No, wait, it's a tax!) Check
Fraudulent statements about the cost of the law globally as well as individually? (Remember the mythical $2500 individual savings, and the mythical deficit reduction?) Check
Lies in testimony to Congress from those in charge? Check
The main question at this point is whether this was all intentional. Is this an intentional chaos designed to create a demand for single payer? It wouldn't surprise me in the least. One thing may work against that strategy: failure of the government on this scale should raise serious doubts on that front also.