Desperate Obamacare Fix So Dubious, Even Howard Dean Doubts Its Legality

If this is what Howard Dean is saying aloud, imagine how bad it actually is.

A difficult week for President Obama got noticeably worse yesterday when one of his most conspicuous frenemies in the Democratic Party, former Vermont governor and ex-DNC chair Howard Dean, questioned whether Obama can unilaterally delay provisions of the Affordable Care Act. (Audio clips after the jump)

Appearing on Ed Schultz's radio show, Dean suggested the president may not possess legal authority to do what he's proposing (audio) --

SCHULTZ: What do you make of the news?

DEAN: Um, well, like you, we were talking about before the show started, I wonder if he has the executive capacity to do this because I think this is a law and I don't think the president can write the law the way he wants. Secondly, if it were me, I would probably be inclined to just do this on paper and by telephone. That's what we're doing in Vermont. We had the misfortune of having the same company do the Vermont website, but it's a state website so it's easier and the governor saw this coming, he realized, the website didn't work properly and so he said, OK, I'm going back to the insurance companies and we'll sign you up the way you would have signed up if we didn't have this website. We need to try that on a national basis. You know, the thing is, you would never know this from the papers, but the website actually is working. It's just not working for enough people at the right time.

SCHULTZ: Yeah.

Got that? Healthcare.gov is actually working, 'cept when it matters.

Here's a better idea -- let Americans sign up for health insurance the way they would if we didn't have this law.

That's odd, I don't recall Dean questioning whether Obama could rewrite the Affordable Care Act without congressional consent back in July when he delayed the employer mandate for a year.

Notice how Dean stops short of stating explicitly that Obama is acting outside the law -- the president, he claims, lacks the "executive capacity" to delay provisions of the ACA. Had George W. Bush done the same, Dean would cite it as yet another example of Bush's imperial presidency.

Even after Dean in effect questions the legality of Obama's actions, he says that if it were him, he'd "just do this on paper and by telephone." So much for his short-lived qualms about a president rewriting law depending on his mood and the polls.

Lest anyone miss his point about the same company designing both the Vermont health law website and healthcare.gov, Dean mentioned it again several minutes later (audio) --

SCHULTZ: Do you feel that this will be corrected by the end of the month? I mean, that was the ...

DEAN: No, I'd be very surprised. I was shocked when he gave a date. As I said, we used the same company in Vermont and as soon as the governor realized that it wasn't going to happen, he made one promise about the end of the month, realized it was a mistake and went right to paper, pencil and direct contact with the insurance industry and I think that's what the White House is going to have to do.

SCHULTZ: So why would they put a gun to their head when they didn't have to?

DEAN: I don't know. I think he's just been getting bad advice about the tech side for a long time.

Along with that questionable advice on the legal side.

Dean and Schultz also talked about how they still view a single-payer health system, along the lines of Medicare for all, as preferable to the Affordable Care Act. You'd think that what we've seen in the last several weeks would make them reconsider the virtues of government-controlled medical care. Not a chance of that. Being liberals, they'd rather double down and then cite an even worse failure as evidence of the need for more government intervention.

Jack Coleman
Liberated ex-liberal from the People's Republic of Massachusetts