I’m Sorry, Too, Mr. President

Obama apologizes for breaking promise on health care reform.

Obama: Teaching moment.
National Journal
Add to Briefcase
Ron Fournier
Nov. 7, 2013, 1:46 p.m.

I’m sorry, too, Mr. Pres­id­ent.

I’m sorry you couldn’t fin­esse a single Re­pub­lic­an vote for health in­sur­ance re­form in 2010.

I’m sorry Re­pub­lic­ans de­cided to re-lit­ig­ate the law rather than help im­ple­ment it, of­fer­ing no ser­i­ous al­tern­at­ive of their own for the nearly 50 mil­lion un­in­sured Amer­ic­ans.

I’m sorry you cam­paigned for reelec­tion on the fam­ous false prom­ise: “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan. Peri­od.”

I’m sorry your aides de­bated wheth­er to tell the full truth (that people could keep their in­sur­ance only if it hadn’t changed and if it met your stand­ards) and de­cided in­stead to in­sti­tu­tion­al­ize the lie.

I’m sorry that when Amer­ic­ans re­cog­nized the de­cep­tion you tried to re­in­vent his­tory: “What we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.” No, no, no, no, no — that’s not what you guys said.

I’m sorry you didn’t trust Amer­ic­ans with the truth.

I’m sorry that the Demo­crat­ic Party’s dec­ades-old chase to­ward uni­ver­sal health care is now at risk be­cause your law — your leg­acy, sir — is off to such a miser­able start. The on­line net­works don’t work and the people you need bought in­to the sys­tem, par­tic­u­larly young Amer­ic­ans, can’t ac­cess the mar­ket and now may nev­er trust it … or you.

“I am sorry that they are find­ing them­selves in this situ­ation based on as­sur­ances they got from me,” you told NBC News. “We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and we are go­ing to do everything we can to deal with folks who find them­selves in a tough po­s­i­tion as a con­sequence of this.”

Then, work hard, Mr. Pres­id­ent, and tell your ad­min­is­tra­tion to do the same. Tell them, please, to stop blam­ing Re­pub­lic­ans, in­sur­ance com­pan­ies, and the me­dia — to stop mak­ing ex­cuses and shad­ing the truth. You must lead by ex­ample (the NBC in­ter­view was full of ex­cuses) and cre­ate a sys­tem of uni­ver­sal health care that is worthy of your prom­ise.

“Ul­ti­mately,” you told NBC, “the buck stops with me.” You’re right, sir. Please don’t make us sorry about that.