Obama: Those darn Bernie supporters helped bring down ObamaCare

Headshot image of Dan Calabrese
Published by: Dan Calabrese on Tuesday January 10th, 2017

Blue on blue.

Tell me again, who was the Illinois state legislator who once said single-payer (also known as socialized medicine) was the ultimate goal of any health care reform? I can't quite place the name. It was someone.

An awful lot of Democrats believed from the start that ObamaCare was a clusterfark, somewhat by design, and that when the financial models collapsed it would open the door for them to say, "Hey, we tried to give the private insurance market a role, but that clearly doesn't work so the government is taking over."

It probably would have gone that way too, but they miscalculated on one major point: They never thought ObamaCare would be so unpopular that it would help put Republicans in a position to repeal it completely before they had a chance to hit Phase 2. And for that, Obama seems to think the Bernie Bros share no small bit of culpability:

"In the 'dissatisfied' column are a whole bunch of Bernie Sanders supporters who wanted a single-payer plan," Obama said in the interview.

"The problem is not that they think Obamacare is a failure. The problem is that they don't think it went far enough and that it left too many people still uncovered," Obama said.

Michael Briggs, a spokesman for Sanders, agreed that many people would rather the government "take on the private insurance industry and the pharmaceutical companies" and play a bigger role in providing healthcare.

"There are many millions of Americans, including many of Bernie's supporters, who don’t understand why we are the only major country on earth that does not provide healthcare as a right and they don’t understand why we pay more but get less for what we spend on healthcare," Briggs said.

Right, but doesn't Obama himself think it didn't go far enough? He's the guy who was out there comparing ObamaCare to an exploding cell phone and complaining that Republicans wouldn't help him fix it. Republicans believed they'd be better off trying to win the whole freaking thing, and then really fix it. Republican gambit wins. Enjoy it, folks.

Black Lives Matter leader hit with restraining order after threatening LA police official

Here, though, is a lot of what boxed Obama in on this issue, and made it impossible for him to avoid the damage the Bernie Bros were causing him:

The flaws in ObamaCare were manifest, just as anyone who had paid attention knew they would be, but there was no resulting clamor to take the next step and go to single-payer. If anything, the public consistently wished since 2010 that we had never gone down this road in the first place. The last thing they wanted was to go even further down it.

That being the case, Hillary certainly couldn't advocate single-payer as part of a presidential campaign platform, and Obama couldn't push for it because he would have undermined Hillary's messaging. That left Bernie - who had no reason to play ball since the DNC was undermining him anyway - to be the lone voice calling for single payer, and making himself a hero to the left. There's no doubt in my mind that Obama agrees with Bernie about single payer, but Obama knew the 2016 presidential election wasn't the time to say so. Thus, the people who are actually his ideological fellow travelers became his biggest problem.

Of course, his biggest problem was signing ObamaCare in the first place. The public knows it's garbage and always has, but Obama wasn't about to let anyone touch his "signature legislative achievement" under any circumstances - as long as he could help it.

So the voters made sure not to replace him with someone else who would take the same stance. That's not Bernie's fault. That's Obama's.

Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!