Politics
President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about the continuing government shutdown during a news conference in the White House Briefing Room in Washington, Oct. 8, 2013. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque) President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about the continuing government shutdown during a news conference in the White House Briefing Room in Washington, Oct. 8, 2013. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)  

Obama using Obamacare meltdown to raise cash

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama is using the disastrous crash of his Obamacare website to extract cash and volunteer hours from his supporters.

“By now, you’ve probably heard that the website has not worked as smoothly as it was supposed to,” Obama told his supporters in an email sent out late Tuesday.

“That’s why I need your help,” he said, in a video pitch that links to an online fundraiser.

“The other side has already spent a whopping $400 million in anti-Obamacare TV ads,” says the language on the fundraiser site. “We don’t have to beat that, but we need to have the resources to fight back. Make a donation to support OFA today.”

The video illustrates Obama’s eagerness and ability to convert even the most awkward policy setbacks into high-profile political campaigns that can help his progressive coalition. The money may be used to support Obamacare, but it likely will also be used to help Obama wage his next election campaign — the 2014 midterm election.

In the video, Obama also offers his supporters a psychological reward for joining “Team Obamacare.”

“I’m asking you to be part of Team Obamacare… I’m asking you to help tell you friends, families, coworkers, classmates, neighbors and anyone else what the Affordable Care Act can mean for them,” he said.

“Remember, nobody ever expected this would be easy — change never is… [but] I’m absolutely confident that we will finish the job of making health care in the country not just a privilege for a fortunate few, but a right for all Americans to enjoy,” he insisted.

In fact, only three weeks, ago, on Sept. 26, Obama said it would be easy.

“Now, this is real simple,” he told an audience in Largo, Md. “It’s a website where you can compare and purchase affordable health insurance plans, side-by-side, the same way you shop for a plane ticket on Kayak — (laughter) — same way you shop for a TV on Amazon,” he said, according to the official White House transcript.

“You just go on and you start looking, and here are all the options,” he said.

Obama’s comment about health-care being a “privilege” is also off the mark.

The percentage of Americans without health insurance fell from 15.7 percent in 2011, to 15.4 percent in 2012. That percentage means that almost 50 million people lack insurance, while roughly 150 million people have private-sector health-insurance and 100 million people have limited but free health-care provided by the government.

Still, the 50 million people without insurance can get limited but free care at hospitals’ emergency care departments.

Obamacare was advertised in 2010 as a fix for people lacking health-care insurance.

That group includes many immigrants, boosting Democrats’ election-day support. In 2012, for example, 71 percent of Latino voters backed Obama, partly because roughly 70 percent of Latinos also support Obamacare.

One-third of foreign-born residents and citizens lacked insurance in 2012, while only 13 percent of native-born Americans lacked insurance in 2012.