- - Friday, July 26, 2013

Thirty-five House Democrats broke party ranks last week to vote for a Republican bill to delay the employer mandate in Obamacare. They’re the canaries in the coal mine, and everyone knows what President Obama thinks of coal.

In an earnest act of self-preservation, 21 of those 35 Democrats voted with the Republicans to postpone implementation of the individual mandate. The votes are symbolic since no delay bill will ever make it past Harry Reid, and certainly not past an Obama veto. Nonetheless, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who doubles as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, isn’t happy. In an account Wednesday in Politico, the Capitol Hill daily, she berated the turncoats on the House floor. The party chairman thus exposes a growing Democratic divide over Obamacare.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough has a new responsibility for applying smelling salts to Democratic congressmen who faint at the prospect of being judged by voters in their districts come November 2014. Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, who conducted the Obamacare legislation through the Senate, has been whipped back into line, punished for speaking truth to party power about the runaway train he sees bearing down on us all. Presumably after a visit to the White House woodshed, he cheerfully took his place on the tracks to wait for doomsday. In an op-ed essay for Politico, he says he’s “confident the administration’s rollout is on track.” We know how to read between the lines, and take note that “on track” is exactly where train wrecks always occur. It’s easy for him to say. He’ll be in safe and happy retirement in Montana when all the wreckage is scattered along the right of way.

The public understands that Mr. Baucus got it right the first time. A CBS News poll released Wednesday says 54 percent of Americans understand train wrecks and want to see Congress repeal the law. A new United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll shows 46 percent expect Obamacare to make the health care crisis worse. Both polls were far more upbeat only a few months ago.

The hemorrhaging of public and congressional support worries the administration, as well it should, particularly since the exchanges open Oct. 1 and the law takes full effect in January. Mr. Obama can only reach out to the only friends he has left, the Hollywood celebrities among the evil 1 percent. The buskers, clowns and actors were summoned to the White House this week for an emergency meeting to come up with a public relations blitz to persuade everyone that Obamacare isn’t the disaster everyone knows it is. Oprah Winfrey has signed up for duty. Who needs anyone else?

Endorsements from rich celebrities won’t change the minds of families struggling to pay the rent and feed the kids and now must pay rising Obamacare premiums. Government-funded television commercials may be fun to watch, but won’t make health care affordable. What’s needed is a health care plan based on individual choice and the free market. At the rate Democrats are defecting, it could happen.

The Washington Times