- - Wednesday, April 9, 2014

President Obama nearly had me on April Fools’ Day. Pointing to Obamacare’s 7 million sign-ups, he said they were proof that the debate over the law is officially “over.” Thankfully, I saw Joe Biden’s reassuring smile in the background, which snapped me back to reality.

Their victory lap didn’t fool anyone — especially the senators and congressmen who voted for Obamacare and are up for re-election. Despite the president’s promise that Obamacare is now a massive success story, they have their sneakers laced up and are heading for the tall grass.

They know what the president doesn’t want to admit. When a politician tries to sell the idea that the “debate is over,” it really means that he wants to end discussion as quickly as possible because he’s losing.

The rest of the country know this, too. The 7 million enrollment number is as empty as the president’s promise that Americans could keep their health plans if they liked them.

The White House’s attempts to say otherwise gives fuzzy math a bad name. No matter how you look at it, Obamacare is still failing on all of the measures that its architects laid out.

Democrats sold Obamacare to America on the promise that it would provide universal health insurance. Today, only 14 percent of the law’s complete sign-ups were previously uninsured. Government projections show that 30 million people will still be uninsured well into the next decade.

They also promised that Obamacare could keep health care affordable. In order to meet this goal, the law needed 40 percent of its enrollees to be “young and healthy” and willing to pay inflated prices in order to subsidize others. The latest figures show that only 25 percent of the sign-ups were between ages 18 and 34 — and there’s no word on whether they were healthy as well as young.

Nor is the 7 million figure even meaningful. This number includes individuals who may have selected a plan but didn’t pay for one, as well as those who paid the first month and then stopped after that. The administration frankly admits that as many as 20 percent could be in the former category, meaning that actual enrollments could be below 6 million.

This puts the president’s April Fools’ joke in its proper context. The White House is nowhere close to meeting its own Obamacare benchmarks. This after spending $700 million in advertising — only slightly less than the president spent on his 2008 presidential campaign.

The steady stream of negative headlines isn’t bringing the debate to a close, either. The president’s April 1 announcement was sandwiched between more bad news for Obamacare.

Hours before, a leading hospital executive predicted that three-fourths of the law’s enrollees will face higher premiums. A day later, a new report calculated that Obamacare will cost many companies up to $5,900 per employee, and up to $186 billion over the next decade.

Cost spikes like that inevitably lead to slower job creation and layoffs. Sure enough, Obamacare forced a hospital in Kansas to do exactly that within 24 hours of the president’s gleeful gloat on the White House lawn. Dozens of similar headlines pop up every week.

This puts the White House’s April Fools’ joke in context. Those folks may be celebrating, but the rest of America isn’t.

We’re waiting for the chance to hold accountable the senators and congressmen whose votes forced Obamacare on us, canceled our plans, increased our costs and restricted our freedom to choose. The joke’s been on us all along.

Tim Phillips is the president of Americans for Prosperity.