Senate Democrats Should Apologize for Obamacare
Follow the President and Say You’re Sorry
As the Obamacare fiasco morphs from tragedy to farce, President Obama has become the Apologizer in Chief, sorry for everything from a dysfunctional website to the shock experienced by millions of Americans who have lost their health insurance.
Senate Democrats should follow his lead and engage in a mass act of contrition for past sins. Some already are giving it a try, disguising their apologies in legislative gymnastics to save the law and, most of all, their own skins. But they need to do more and actually apologize for misleading millions of Americans who were told they could keep their health insurance.
Mike Flynn of Breitbart News has compiled a comprehensive list of the worst Obamacare offenders in the Senate. The list includes quotes from each Senator and background on their support for the President’s health care law. It’s a public service.
At the top of the list are three of the most endangered Democrats in next year’s midterm elections – Landrieu of Louisiana, Hagan of North Carolina, and Begich of Alaska.
There are bit players as well. One is Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, the hapless fellow charged with preserving Harry Reid’s Democratic majority. Also included are Senate Majority Leader Reid himself, along with Dick Durbin, Reid’s chief deputy.
Bringing up the rear are Patty Murray, Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, perpetual explainer Chuck Schumer, and that old standby, Tom Harkin.
Number one on the list is retiring Senator Max Baucus of Montana. As Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Baucus moved Obamacare through every step of the legislative process. Then last April, when it was too late, Baucus had the nerve to warn that Obamacare had the potential to be a train wreck.
Here is Flynn’s complete list:
10. SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D-LA): “If you like the insurance that you have, you’ll be able to keep it.” (MSNBC’s Hardball, 12/16/09)
Mary Landrieu, like all Senate Democrats, provided the deciding vote on passing Obamacare. After 3 years, it is hard to remember all the parliamentary tricks the Democrats used to pass a bill that almost none of them had read. Landrieu, who is up for reelection next year, lied on TV. She should apologize.
9. SEN. KAY HAGAN (D-NC): “We need to support the private insurance industry so that people who have insurance they’re happy with can keep it while also providing a backstop option for people without access to affordable coverage.” (“Republicans Vent As Other Compromise Plans Get Aired,” National Journal’s Congress Daily, 6/18/09)
160,000 residents of North Carolina have lost their health coverage. Sen. Hagan has been most aggressive in trying to separate herself from Obamacare. No wonder, since even a Democrat poll has found her now in a statistical tie with any of her possible Republican challengers. In September, Hagan held a 12-17 point lead. She is up for reelection next year and should apologize.
8. SEN. MARK BEGICH (D-AK): “If you got a doctor now, you got a medical professional you want, you get to keep that. If you have an insurance program or a health care policy you want of ideas, make sure you keep it. That you can keep who you want.”
Begich won his Senate seat in 2008, after DOJ staffers trumped up false charges against the sitting GOP Senator Ted Stevens. Begich is running for reelection in Alaska, without the Obama wave and without a mythical DOJ investigation. He should apologize.
7. SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO): “We should begin with a basic principle: if you have coverage and you like it, you can keep it. If you have your doctor, and you like him or her, you should be able to keep them as well. We will not take that choice away from you.”
Sen. Bennet heads to DSCC, the party arm to elect Democrats to the US Senate. He will have an outsized role in races across the country. He said his position on Obamacare was based on a “basic principle.” He should apologize.
6. SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D-WA): “Again, if you like what you have, you will be able to keep it. Let me say this again: If you like what you have, when our legislation is passed and signed by the President, you will be able to keep it.” (Sen. Murray, Congressional Record, S.6400, 6/10/09)
Let me say this again, as a senior member, and now Chair of the Budget Committee, Sen. Murray must have been in a position to know that these claims were false. She won her first race for Senate campaigning as a “soccer mom” in “tennis shoes.” Insert your own joke. 290,000 residents of Washington have lost their health insurance. She should apologize.
5. SEN. TOM HARKIN (D-IA): “One of the things we put in the health care bill when we designed it was the protection for consumers to keep the plan they have if they like it; thus, the term ‘grandfathered plans.’ If you have a plan you like –existing policies–you can keep them. …we said, if you like a plan, you get to keep it, and you can grandfather it in.” (Sen. Harkin, Congressional Record, S.7675-6, 9/29/10)
Sen. Harkin has long been a slippery politician. As Chair of the Health Committee in the Senate, Harkin would have had more intimate knowledge of ObamaCare than most other lawmakers. His yowler here is he tries to claim that the “put in” language to ensure people could keep the plan they like. That is a sin of commission. Harkin, who is retiring, should absolutely apologize.
4. SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “If you like your insurance, you keep it.” (U.S. Senate, Finance Committee, Bill Mark-Up, 9/24/09)
Schumer, who was in a position to know the inner-workings of the law seems to have lied. Asking him for an apology, though, is like asking Anthony Weiner to become modestly self-aware. Still, he should apologize.
3. SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): “This bill before us on the Senate floor makes it clear that if you have an insurance policy that you like, you can keep it. If you like the doctor that you’re currently doing business with, you can continue to use that doctor.” (Sen. Durbin, Teleconference, 12/4/09)
Durbin is the Number 2 Democrat in the Senate, amazingly. He seems preternaturally disposed to obscuring the truth. He actually said the legislation “makes it clear” that you can keep your insurance. He either can’t read legislation or he was intentionally misleading the public. In any event, he should apologize.
2. SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV):“In fact, one of our core principles is that if you like the health care you have, you can keep it.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.8642, 8/3/09)
Core principles, apparently, aren’t what they used to be. Sen. Reid emptied out the parliamentary cupboard to get ObamaCare passed. As Majority Leader, he had to have a keen understanding of what was in the bill and what the consequences would be. The White House, at the time, was aware of the fact that many Americans would lose their health insurance. Surely, Sen. Reid was privy to the same information. He should apologize.
And, the #1 Senate Democrat who should apologize…
1. SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D-MT): “That is why one of the central promises of health care reform has been and is: If you like what you have, you can keep it. That is critically important. If a person has a plan, and he or she likes it, he or she can keep it.” (Sen. Baucus, Congressional Record, S.7676, 9/29/10)
Sen. Baucus wrote most of the bill that became ObamaCare. He has been steeped in health care policy for decades. He was in a position to know, and had to know, that the “central promise” that people could keep their current health care coverage was a lie.
He should apologize, but unfortunately, he has chosen to retire rather than face the voters. I can only hope he does not go softly into the night.
During the course of his career, Walker has worked in Chicago, Washington DC, New York City, and Phoenix. He served as a reporter in Chicago, a press secretary and speechwriter in Washington, and in numerous positions in New York in corporate and financial services communications.
Walker is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.