ObamaCare defenders keep insisting that the law is a huge success while public approval continues to deteriorate, even among Democrats and especially among the uninsured.
It's supposed to be the GOP's worst nightmare — President Obama's health care takeover turns out to be a success, proving once and for all that small-government conservatives are delusional.
ObamaCare has, we're told, signed up more than expected while avoiding terminal rate shocks. In fact, a new report suggests premiums for "benchmark" Silver plans will actually be lower in many states next year.
Erstwhile ObamaCare booster Jonathan Chait calls this news "almost unfathomably positive," while Ezra Klein brags that "Obama's signature accomplishment is succeeding beyond all reasonable expectation."
So how do Chait, Klein and company explain the fact that ObamaCare's ratings keep dropping?
The latest Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll finds only 35% of the public now holds a favorable view of ObamaCare — which is lower than it was when it officially launched in October. (Our latest IBD/TIPP poll finds disapproval rising.)
More damning is the reality that only 26% of the uninsured — the very people for whom ObamaCare was supposedly built — now view it favorably. In fact, the law has never been more unpopular with the uninsured since it went into full effect.
Support is slipping among Democrats — it fell to 57% in September from 70% last October — and fewer than a third of independents now support the law.
The poll also found that twice as many say they've been hurt by ObamaCare as helped.
Even the recent "unfathomable" successes turn out to be less than meets the eye.
That claim about 8 million signing up for ObamaCare plans? The truth is, no one knows for sure. The administration said 8 million had finished the application process. But it has since refused to release updates showing how many actually paid their initial premiums or are still covered.
And as for those lower benchmark premiums, they are more a reflection of ObamaCare's temporary industry subsidies, which were included in the law for the express purpose of keeping rates artificially low in the first years (a fact liberals somehow always manage to leave out).
Worse, these lower benchmark premiums could actually hurt those getting subsidized insurance.
Because of the Rube Goldberg subsidy scheme ObamaCare employs, "moderate rate actions, and even rate decreases, can translate into huge, net (after-subsidy) rate hikes," note the Wakely Consulting Group's Jon Kingsdale and Julia Lerche in a recent Health Affairs article.
That's because the amount of the subsidy is based on the cost of those "benchmark" plans. The lower the benchmark, the smaller the subsidy.
Add to this the fact that many of the popular ObamaCare plans have sharply rising premiums, and what you get are potentially massive rate shocks for millions who want to stick with the plans they have.
When it comes to ObamaCare's success, we'll take the public's view over those of cloistered liberal elites in Washington any day.