It has now been five days since Politico's Ben Smith published a powerpoint presentation created by an amalgamation of powerful left wing interest groups, conceding that two of the central arguments for passing ObamaCare - that it will lower the deficit and will reduce health care costs - have failed.
For a group of organizations integral to the passage of the law, that was a stunning admission. And yet, the mainstream press is nearly silent on the issue. Searches on Nexis and Google News reveal no coverage from the major television networks, the cable news channels (with the exception of Fox), the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, NPR, PBS, or Newsweek. To their credit, Time Magazine and the Washington Post published a blog post each on the revelation.
Even while discussing ObamaCare and its potential effects on the deficit and health care costs, some media outlets managed to avoid any mention of a fact Democrats now seem to be conceding: "the White House's first and most aggressive sales pitch have essentially failed," as Smith notes.
The powerpoint, created by an umbrella organization called the Herndon Alliance - which includes left-wing power brokers such as the SEIU, MoveOn, La Raza, and the Center for American Progress - specifically instructs those still trying to sell ObamaCare to the American public to avoid claiming "the law will reduce costs and deficits."
Of course those paying attention already knew that. Even the White House's own Medicare Actuary has acknowledged that ObamaCare will increase, not reduce, the amount the nation spends on health care over the law's first 10 years. Optimistic projections beyond the 10 year window "may be unrealistic," the Actuary stated (pdf).
Not only will the bill raise the amount the nation as a whole spends on health care, it will also raise individual Americans' insurance premiums, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin concurred with that assessment.
Neither will the law reduce the federal deficit. Once one strips away all of the accounting tricks and budgetary gimmicks, one finds, in the words of the former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, "The health care reform legislation would raise, not lower, federal deficits, by $562 billion."
So the liberal organization's admission that controlling costs and trimming the deficits are rhetorical dead ends when it comes to selling ObamaCare is hardly a surprise. To say otherwise would contradict the facts, and Americans are not stupid.
The group also recommended that ObamaCare's remaining proponents stop trying to sell the law as an undeniable success. Instead, the presentation suggests they tell skeptical voters that "The law is not perfect, but it does good things and helps many people. Now we'll work to improve it." (Emphasis in the original.)
Byron York explains the significance of Herdon's recommendations:
It's a stunning about-face for a party that saw national health care as its signature accomplishment. "This is the first time we've seen from Democrats that they clearly understand they have a serious problem in terms of selling this legislation," says Republican pollster David Winston.
The reluctance to defend Obamacare as a cost-cutter and deficit-reducer is particularly telling. Wasn't that the No. 1 reason for passing the bill in the first place? "This legislation will ... lower costs for families and for businesses and for the federal government, reducing our deficit by over $1 trillion in the next two decades," President Obama said when he signed the bill into law on March 23. Now, Democrats are throwing that argument out the window...
The story might be even worse than that for Democrats. Everyone knows the public's top issue is the economy. It has been since before Obama took office. So when the president and Democratic congressional leadership devoted a year to passing national health care, Republicans charged they were ignoring the public's wishes. Now, when Democrats admit that Obamacare won't cut costs or reduce deficits, they open themselves up to a more serious charge: they spent a year working on something that will actually cost jobs and make things worse.
The liberal interest group coalition's recommendations speak volumes about the political and policy failures of the administration and the Democratic Party's congressional leadership. And yet virtually all major media players are silent on the admission.
Democrats are making a key shift in strategy in their efforts to sell ObamaCare to a skeptical public, but if you get your news from most of the nation's major news outlets, you are most likely unaware of that fact, or its implications for the policy.