In a startling rebuke to President Obama, former President Bill Clinton and other Democrats picked apart Obamacare on Tuesday as privacy concerns about the program’s website multiplied and a video investigation suggested fraudulence among volunteers helping people enroll for government subsidies.
Mr. Clinton called on the president to make good on his repeated and emphatic promise that Americans who like their health insurance plans can keep them. The former president said Mr. Obama should take that step on behalf of consumers whose policies were canceled, “even if it takes a change in the law.”
The White House said Mr. Obama is considering a “range of options” but didn’t commit to Mr. Clinton’s proposal. In a reminder of Mr. Obama’s on-again, off-again relationship with Mr. Clinton, the president’s spokesman pointed out that Mr. Clinton tried and failed to enact universal health care.
The highly public rebuff prompted open speculation that Team Clinton has begun to distance itself from Mr. Obama in preparation for a presidential bid by Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016. “And so starts the Clinton team slowly walking away from the train wreck that is the Obama presidency,” said John Feehery, a Republican strategist in Washington.
Lanny Davis, who was an adviser in the Clinton White House, called such talk “speculation” but said Mr. Obama should heed the increasing call of Democrats to change the health care law.
“A lot of Democrats that I’ve talked to all day are saying just do it — make the fix,” Mr. Davis said. In a column to be published in The Hill newspaper Thursday, Mr. Davis argues that Mr. Obama “might be well advised to admit to trying to do too much too soon in a 1,000+ page ObamaCare bill, passed by an almost entirely partisan vote in 2010 — and revert back to a step-by-step approach to increase required coverage over a longer period of time, in effect reinstating the guarantee that if you have insurance, you can keep your policies.”
“Such a mid-course correction could be a compromise worth trying — saving not only public support for ObamaCare but perhaps the Democratic control of the U.S. Senate in the 2014 elections as well,” he writes.
But a Democratic operative aligned with the Obama White House characterized Mr. Clinton’s comments as unhelpful, especially in light of a House vote scheduled for Friday to allow consumers to keep their health care plans.
“These comments leave rank-and-file Democrats on the Hill awfully exposed right now, especially in the House,” the Obama ally said. “Clinton has now made it a much tougher vote than it should be.”
In what could be the start of a Democratic stampede away from the president’s signature program, Sen. Kay R. Hagan of North Carolina said she plans to formally request a government investigation of Obamacare’s botched rollout. Mrs. Hagan, a Democrat whose re-election effort next year has been imperiled by her support of the law, said she wants to “make sure it never happens again.”
With the White House starting to lose Obamacare allies in the president’s own party, a video investigation bolstered Republicans’ concerns that the entitlement program is ripe for fraud. The video produced by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas appears to show Obamacare “navigators” in Dallas advising a man to falsify his application to obtain higher government subsidies and a lower premium.
The encounter between a Project Veritas “investigator” and an Obamacare navigator was taped secretly at the National Urban League’s offices in Dallas. When the undercover investigator says he never reports outside income on his tax returns, the Obamacare volunteer advises him not to get in “trouble” by declaring the income now.
Other Obamacare navigators can be heard informing the man not to disclose that he smokes tobacco, so he can receive a lower insurance premium.
“You lie because your premiums will be higher,” an Obamacare navigator advises the Project Veritas investigator.
Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, called it “yet another broken piece of a deeply flawed system.”