Obama's 'cool' hurts his effectiveness with Senate Democrats

Obamacare faces a 'meltdown', says Sen. Machin of West Virginia, and Democrats are 'feeling the weight' of public rejection of healthcare reform. Obama is no Bill Clinton.

Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, after speaking to the Obama administration’s roll-out failure for the Affordable Care Act said that President Barack Obama does himself no favors in his inattentiveness to Democrats in the Senate. Speaking on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ program, Manchin said that Obama has his own style but is no Bill Clinton. "It makes it more difficult," said Manchin. "It's hard to say no to a friend. When you build that relationship and that friendship, you're looking for ways to try to work things out and find a compromise. That friendship means an awful lot. When you don't build those personal relationships, it's pretty easy for a person to say, 'Well, let me think about it.'"
 
Manchin does not face re-election in 2013. Even so, West Virginia increasingly trends towards the Republican side of the aisle. Having made no bones about his misgivings about Obamacare, in October Manchin introduced legislation to delay by one year the $95 penalty for failure to register for health insurance. He agreed that Amerifcans should not be punished for Obama’s healthcare debacle during this transition period.” Fellow Democrats has urged other changes to Obamacare, including an extension of the open enrollment period beyond the March 31 deadline. 
 
Manchin has called for an additional year’s grace for the healthcare program to work, following the bungled roll-out of the Obamacare website. Even Obama has admitted that his failure to launch was the biggest mistake he made in 2013. Moreover, Manchin said on December 22 that Obamacare faces a “meltdown” that may endanger the Democrats’ current majority in the Senate should glitches still plague the program.  Manchin admitted that Democrats are “feeling the weight” of the buggy and complex healthcare reform. “If it's so much more expensive than what we anticipated and if the coverage is not as good as what we had, you've got a complete meltdown at that time,” Manchin said on CNN.
 
“It falls of its own weight, if basically the cost becomes more than we can absorb, absolutely.”
 
The Obama administration has reacted to the disastrous October 1 launch of Obamacare with a media blitz that has included condom and sexual lubricant distributions in the District of Columbia where not only the incidence of HIV/AIDS is high but also the lack of participation in health insurance. The Affordable Care Act was intended to ensure that all Americans would have health insurance while also penalizing those who refuse to participate. Complaints have come from consumers that their heatlh insurance was cancelled, despite Obama’s promises to the contrary that they could keep their doctors, while some are paying higher premiums for health insurance. The main web portal to register for insurance, HealthCare.gov, continues to be glitch.
 
“It needs to turn around,” said the pensive Manchin as he reflected about Obamacare. “'I'm not going to say that I think we will lose it (the Senate). It's going to be extremely challenging. We have some very good people who are truly there, I believe, for the right reason. They're going to be challenged for the wrong reason.”
 
In a December 20 White House press conference before leaving for a Hawaii vacation, Obama defended his administration by saying that more than 1 million people have registered for new health coverage through HealthCare.gov. On the day before, the administration announced that those whose plans were cancelled may now make a claim to a “hardship exemption” to the mandate that all Americans must be covered by March 31, 2013. Otherwise, they would have faced a penalty.


Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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