Former President Bill Clinton made headlines on Tuesday for coming out with the assertion that the Affordable Care Act should be fixed so that people can keep the insurance plans they wish to keep, as they were promised by President Obama.
At first glance, this may appear as a deep divide between Clinton and Obama and a sign of weakness among Democrats on a key health care issue. House Republicans were tripping over themselves to agree with Clinton and certainly zeroed in on the comments with glee.
However, if we look at the details of Clinton’s comments, we may actually get a preview to the next great standoff between Congress and President Obama, and not between Clinton and Obama.
Within his remarks, Clinton asserts that the law must be changed to accommodate the people who have lost the plans they prefer due to the ACA. However, as everyone who has taken ninth grade civics knows, if the law is to be amended, it must be done by Congress.
If it is up to Congress to amend Obamacare, I cannot imagine that an amendment would be offered and approved by the House that would simply make the law easier for those affected and be limited to just that action.
But I can also assume that any complex amendment offered by the House would not be welcomed by the Senate and the President.
It’s clear to me that the next standoff that will make headlines and be the fodder for negative campaign ads will be “fixing Obamacare”.
There are advantages for President Obama to this predictable standoff. So far, he is taking all of the blame for the problems with the implementation of Obamacare. However, if he can come out and say that the only way to fix it is through Congress and they refuse to work with him on a solution, big bad Congress becomes the scapegoat. With Congressional approval ratings even lower than his, it will be an easy case to make.
House Republicans will also try to make hay with the problem, but they are at a disadvantage. They can claim that President Obama lied about how people could keep the health care plans they liked, but now that the problem exists, it will be hard to say that they are not part of the reason that the problem cannot be fixed.
Supporters on both sides of the aisle will take sides and come out pointing fingers at the other party, claiming they are the root of the problem, as usual.
The question is, how will the middle of the road, independent voters react to the standoff? We will not have to wait long to find out.
It is safe to expect a great deal of hay to be made about this issue from both sides. Democrats know that they will be grilled on this issue in next year’s election so they will not take it sitting down. Republicans know that voters are frustrated with Obamacare and will respond to criticism of the law in ads, so they won’t be able to just let it lie.
This obviously won’t be the only topic for negative ads next year, but expect this to be a major one. When it comes to standoffs, it’s hard to beat this one and it looks like President Bill Clinton just helped turn it up a notch.
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– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here usually every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.