The Corner

Obamacare’s Bizarre Creation Story

It turns out that Obamacare’s creation story is as shambolic as was the resultant legislative session — and is the current attempt to implement the thing. In Politico, Glenn Thrush and Carrie Budoff Brown tell a tale of an unserious team obsessed with optics and happy to make nation-changing decision on the fly:

The most important red line of Barack Obama’s presidency was scrawled hastily in January 2007, a few weeks before he even announced he was running for president.

Soon-to-be-candidate Obama, then an Illinois senator, was thinking about turning down an invitation to speak at a big health care conference sponsored by the progressive group Families USA, when two aides, Robert Gibbs and Jon Favreau, hit on an idea that would make him appear more prepared and committed than he actually was at the moment.

“Hey, let’s say that we’ll unconstitutionally reorganize one-sixth of the nation’s economy. That’ll make him look good.”


“We needed something to say,” recalled one of the advisers involved in the discussion. “I can’t tell you how little thought was given to that thought other than it sounded good. So they just kind of hatched it on their own. It just happened. It wasn’t like a deep strategic conversation.”

Now that is surprising. Still, at the least the president followed his own words and convictions, right?


At the advice of his political advisers, Obama sought to undercut Clinton by accusing her of pushing for an individual mandate — an idea borrowed from Republicans that polled poorly with independents and conservative Democrats in critical battlegrounds like Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Aides say Obama was simply looking for any way to differentiate himself from an opponent whose basic policy positions were indistinguishable from his own. After Clinton dropped out in June 2008, Obama was privately telling his staff that any health care reform he proposed would most likely include a mandate.

Read the whole sordid story here.


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