Sixteen Senate Democrats' meeting with President Barack Obama to reportedly complain about the problems with rolling out the Affordable Care Act, more popularly known as ObamaCare, on Wednesday is being called by one Republican strategist a "PR stunt" to convince constituents that they are holding the president accountable for his signature reform.
"After all this time carrying the president's water on ObamaCare, Senate Democrats are drowning in red states," Republican strategist Alice Stewart, host of the Alice Stewart Show, told The Christian Post in an interview on Thursday. "In my view the meeting yesterday was not about doing anything to fix healthcare.gov or delaying Obamacare," Stewart alleged. "It was a PR stunt on behalf of these Democratic Senators that they are trying to hold the president accountable."
Of the Senate Democrats who are up for re-election in 2014, only five did not attend the meeting. Senators Max Baucus (Montana), Tom Harkin (Iowa), Jay Rockefeller (West Virginia), and Tim Johnson (South Dakota) are retiring, while Senator Ed Markey (Massachusetts) also did not attend.
"They have to show some sign that they're doing something to slow down this ObamaCare trainwreck," Stewart explained of the meeting. Unfortunately for them, the Republican strategist warned, actions speak louder than words.
"They haven't done anything on this in the past three years," Stewart explained. She argued that these senators have supported ObamaCare, and mentioned that Senator Mark Pryor (Arkansas) called the health reform a "success story."
Stewart argued that it is ironic these senators are complaining now, because "they shouldn't have let it get to this point in the first place." She claimed that Republicans knew ObamaCare would come replete with problems, such as the failures of the sign-up website healthcare.gov and the notifications around the country that people will lose their healthcare plans.
The president and the top Democrats "knew all along that people would not be able to keep their doctor," Stewart alleged. She also mentioned 4 million people – "that we know of" – who have already been dropped by their insurance carriers. One healthcare expert predicted that at least 129 million Americans will not be able to keep their previous healthcare plans, in contradiction to President Obama's oft-repeated promise that "if you like your coverage, you can keep it."
But the problems go deeper than that, Stewart warned. "It's not just the credibility of ObamaCare, it's the credibility of Democrats in Washington that's at stake," she explained.
Even this week's elections bear this out, the Republican strategist claimed. "Terry McAuliffe was predicted to win that by a landslide and he squeaked by because of the impact ObamaCare is having on Democrats," she argued.
Stewart warned that the failures of healthcare rollout will have an impact in 2014, and that "those who are up for re-election will pay the price for their vote for ObamaCare."
Senate Democrats "are trying to stir up smokescreens today that they think will erase their record on Obamacare," the Republican strategist explained. But, she warned, "the American people are smarter than that."
Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) distributed a press release on yesterday's meeting, explaining, "I shared the concerns of Coloradans directly with the president." Senator Udall's release carries the mark of urgency, "I urged the president again to extend the enrollment period to give consumers enough time to make an informed decision about their family's health insurance options," he said.
President Obama's press release on the meeting merely reported the facts. "Today, the President and Vice President met with over a dozen Senate Democrats to discuss the progress that's been made to extend health care coverage to more Americans and to hear their input on existing changes with implementation of the Affordable Care Act," it explained. It also listed the 16 Senate Democrats who met with the President:
• Senator Mark Begich
• Senator Cory Booker
• Senator Chris Coons
• Senator Dick Durbin
• Senator Al Franken
• Senator Kay Hagan
• Senator Mary Landrieu
• Senator Jeff Merkley
• Senator Mark Pryor
• Senator Jack Reed
• Senator Jeanne Shaheen
• Senator Brian Schatz
• Senator Mark Udall
• Senator Tom Udall
• Senator Mark Warner
• Senator Michael Bennet