Jamie Dupree's Washington Insider

Posted: 1:23 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Latest health care delay obscures Democratic message 

By Jamie Dupree

The goal of Democrats in the Congress on Wednesday was simple - focus on their legislative agenda items, like an effort to force a vote on immigration reform in the House, and votes in the Senate on a minimum wage increase, and an extension of long term jobless benefits and more.   But the Obama health law got in the way.

Instead of an extended discussion of their 2014 plans, Senate Democratic leaders at a U.S. Capitol news conference found their agenda getting little attention, as they were peppered with questions about the latest delay in the Obama health law.

"This agenda is what the American people want to hear," said a somewhat frustrated Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), as he wrapped up a news conference to rollout Senate Democratic legislative plans for 2014.

"You folks all want to ask about Obamacare," Schumer dismissively told reporters, who ignored the Democratic agenda items and aimed questions on the latest move to extend a March 31 deadline for enrollment in the Obama health law.

Earlier in the day, House Speaker John Boehner tore into the enrollment deadline delay, labeling it another "deadline made meaningless."

"What the hell is this; a  joke?" Boehner asked at his weekly news conference.

That didn't sit well with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"The joke, I say to my dear friend, John Boehner, is him," said Reid, lambasting the large number of House votes to repeal and block the Obama health law.

"If we hadn't extended it (the deadline), they would have criticized us for not doing it," Reid added, as he said many people need extra time because they "aren't educated on how to use the internet" to sign up through the exchanges

"There are some people who are not like my grandchildren who can handle everything so easily on the internet, and these people need a little extra time," Reid told reporters.

A final push for health coverage

Even as the Obama Administration moved to allow people to continue to sign up after the March 31 enrollment deadline, there were fresh signals of a big P.R. push by the White House for last minute enrollments.

In a video posted on YouTube, the President used an old advertising line from Nike, saying, "Just do it," as he urged people to sign up for health insurance coverage.

Meanwhile, the political arm of the Democratic Party sent out an email appeal by Mr. Obama, urging Americans to make sure their friends are signed up for health coverage.

"For anyone who wants the peace of mind of having health care, or who wants to take advantage of the financial assistance available to millions of uninsured Americans, there's no time to wait. The deadline is March 31st," the email read - even though that deadline is no longer hard and fast on next Monday.

Jamie Dupree

About Jamie Dupree

Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog.

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