Earlier this week, former President Bill Clinton advised President Obama to "honor the commitment" he made and to allow Americans to keep their health care plans, if they like them. That was a central promise Obama made when he sold Obamacare, but one that turned out not to be true when Obamacare began to be implemented last month.
"So I personally believe, even if it takes a change to the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got," Clinton in an interview released Tuesday.
Now President Obama is taking Clinton's advice and trying to honor that commitment. In remarks today at the White House today, Obama said, "I completely get how upsetting this can be" to lose insurance plans that I promised Americans would be able to keep. "To those Americans, I hear you loud and clear."
But there's a catch with president's proposed solution. The president is not proposing that the law be changed to allow all health insurance plans grandfathered into Obamacare's eligibility requirements.
No, instead the White House is saying that it will use "enforcement discretion" to allow illegal health insurance plans to be able to still be sold. That is, the Obama administration will not enforce the penalty on individuals for not having eligible health insurance plans and they'll allow the insurance companies to still sell so-called bad plans -- plans they technically can't sell under Obamacare.
"Under the White House’s approach, the Department of Health and Human Services will notify the nation’s state insurance commissioners that they have federal permission to allow consumers who already have such insurance policies to keep them through 2014," reports the Washington Post.
He'll also be forcing insurance companies to help advertise for Obamacare by letting customers know that there's an Obamacare marketplace where they can purchase (or get subsidized) health care coverage.
Obama's proposal is an extra-legal solution to a big problem for millions of Americans around the country.
"I don't see within the law how they can do this administratively," said Speaker John Boehner in a press conference on Capitol Hill. "No one can identify anything the president could do administratively to keep his pledge that would be both legal and effective."
The proposed White House fix so that Obama can honor his commitment is also likely to create more problems and to further distrust the American people have for this administration, which makes law based on what it chooses to enforce while sidestepping the constitutional process that is in place.
Indeed, there's another problem. As Texas senator Ted Cruz says, the president cannot fix an unfixable law. "We cannot 'fix' Obamacare. The damage has been done, as millions of Americans have already been made to pay higher premiums and lose their jobs, wages, and health care plans," Cruz said today.
President Clinton famously dismissed Obama's candidacy for president of the United States by saying, "Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I have ever seen."
With Obama's reliance on "enforcement discretion," it would now seem that Clinton had a point -- and that the "fairy tale" continues.