- - Sunday, January 26, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Obama is making a sudden push to win back millennial voters, who have grown disillusioned over his failed “Hope and Change” campaign that left them without jobs, living in their parents’ basement.


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Even though he has run his last race, the president needs the 18-to-34 age group to make his signature Obamacare policy work. Without them, the whole system falls apart — not tomorrow, today, right now, before the radical reform of U.S. health care can even get off the ground.

Just how bad is it? Just 24 percent of the new enrollees to Obamacare are between 18 and 34. The entire plan was predicated on a sign-up rate of nearly 40 percent, the idea being that healthy young people will pay more — much more — than they once did to offset the unhealthy elderly signing up for Obamacare.

In some states, the sign-up rate for millennials is abysmal: Arizona and West Virginia saw just 17 percent of the age group enroll. The White House, of course, predicts that number will grow as the deadline to sign up nears at the end of March (if you’ve got a millennial kid, you know they only do things at the last minute).

But the situation is far worse than just flagging enrollment of Obamacare, and the president knows it. Young people, who turned out in droves in 2008 and put the first-term Illinois senator in the White House, have grown increasingly disillusioned, seeing him now as just another politician who makes promises he has no intention of keeping.


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Just 41 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds approve of the job Mr. Obama is doing — down 11 points from April — and 54 percent now disapprove, a Harvard poll found. A whopping 57 percent disapprove of Obamacare (just 38 percent approve). Worse, 40 percent say health care will get worse (18 percent think it will improve) and 51 percent think costs will rise (34 percent say costs will stay the same; just 11 percent think costs will decrease).

Much, much worse: 54 percent of 18-24-year-olds say they would vote to “recall and replace” the president — in Washington, that’s called “impeachment.”

There are a few reasons for the sudden exodus: First, millennials detest the NSA phone snooping program. And they were put off Obamacare by the technically inept rollout, when the federal webpage wouldn’t work for weeks. Plus, few can find jobs as the economy continues to flounder.

Still, just as the president did in the 2012 election — when he made college loan forgiveness a campaign issue and flip-flopped on gay marriage to draw the vote from millennials in liberal colleges (which means any college) — Mr. Obama has thrown them another bone. In an interview this month, the president said he thinks smoking marijuana is no different than drinking alcohol. Stoners from the University of Florida all the way to Choom State College in Hawaii applauded, between bong hits, of course.

Now, he’s making a big push into social media, you know, to “hang out” with America’s future. First, the White House will host a virtual “Big Block of Cheese Day” (don’t ask). “Dozens of White House officials will take to social media for a daylong ‘open house’ to answer questions from everyday Americans in real-time on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram,” the White House says.

Then, three days after his State of the Union address on Tuesday, the president will chat with youngsters in what Google is promoting as the first “Presidential Hangout Road Trip.”

“He’ll hop into Google+ Hangouts with people from across the United States to answer their questions and hear their thoughts about the topics he addressed in his speech,” one blog said. And to lure the self-obsessed young into participating, questioners are asked to “record a 60-second video with your name, location, a bit about yourself and the question you’d like to ask.”

But the bottom line for millennials is pretty simple. First, in what was a colossal screw-up by the White House, they can stay on their parents’ health care until they’re 26 — no need to sign up, then. More, the older millennials, decades from needing comprehensive health care, are finding that paying the penalty is less expensive than signing up.

A study by the American Action Forum “finds that after accounting for cost-sharing and subsidies in 2014, it would still be cheaper for 86 percent of young adults to forgo coverage and to pay the individual mandate instead.”

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