That’s what friends are for

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“When you face a crisis, you know who your true friends are.”

The significance of this quote, attributed to Earvin “Magic” Johnson, plays out quite often in our own daily lives. As you recall times throughout your life when you have encountered either personal hardship or professional challenges, you can likely list the people who stepped up to the plate when you needed help the most. Time and time again, it is the same names and faces, or at least the same personal attributes, that define the list of your true friends.

As a nation, we have also found this to be true over the years. The most glaring example was in the days after 9/11, when countless countries around the world joined to help America respond to that cowardice moment of terrorism.

As a Louisiana people, we can all reflect on stories of true friendship in the aftermath of hurricanes throughout the years that have instilled a community-based camaraderie in many parts of this state. When times are bad, true friends know how best to come together and help in a way that delivers the most relief.

In politics, an election season can often represent a crisis for certain candidates, and this year has the potential to be a full-fledged five alarm fire for national Democrats running for re-election.

While national journalists have written a considerable amount of articles about Republicans and the internal spirited debates amongst conservatives, probing commentary about national Democratic disagreements has been few and far between. Some may argue this lack of journalistic curiosity is simply the media rallying to defend their philosophical allies on the left, but even if it is just that simple, there are signs that perhaps that wall of protection is starting to show some cracks. 

Rallying of true friends has not been the norm in the nation’s Capitol lately when it comes to the president’s own political party. In fact, the tension has become so hot lately that even The New York Times took notice. That daily newspaper is well known for rarely taking lightly any decision to cross the threshold of writing critical pieces about messy internal Democratic politics.

Last week, The Times blasted the lack of any real relationship between the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats, describing a recent meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., where Reid expressed his anger with President Obama for his lack of interest and engagement in the Senate appointment process for White House nominees. The Times also had a few Senators willing to go on record to explain just how fractured their friendship with the president seems to be. When asked to describe his relationship with the president, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said, “It’s fairly nonexistent. There’s not much of a relationship.”

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who caucuses with Senate Democrats said, “…I think one of the things the White House has not done well and the president has not done well is the simple idea of establishing relationships before there is a crisis.”

If those statements don’t reveal just how bad the relationship has become between the disengaged White House and members of Obama’s own party, The Times delivered the knockout blow with this statistic, “…only twice in more than 180 rounds of golf has the president invited members of Congress to play with him, and only one Democratic official — Senator Mark Udall of Colorado — has joined a presidential foursome.”

So if stalled presidential appointments and countless rounds of golf cannot cause the president to work closely with his national Democratic friends, perhaps King is correct. It truly will take a crisis for these natural allies to set aside their differences and lean on one another in ways only true friends do.

Enter the albatross around the neck of national Democrats known as the Affordable Care Act during election season. This crisis finally may be a disaster worthy of true friends rallying to one another’s defense.

This fall, most states will start to approve the pending health insurance rates for 2015, and most of them will spike significantly, thanks to the market manipulating power of Obamacare.

In fact, in an article Politico published this week, the paper stated that, “With Democrats looking to hang on to Senate seats in many Republican-leaning states, they’ll be hoping that the final numbers don’t come in anywhere near the 24.6 percent hike that the report from the anti-Obamacare Heritage Foundation projected for a family of four in Arkansas, or even the 13.1 percent increase in Alaska or 12.4 percent in Louisiana.  So far, although no state has finalized its rate, 21 have posted bids for 2015. Average preliminary premiums went up in all 21, though only a few by double digits.”

These rate increases are horrible news for small businesses, families and anyone else working hard to recover from the multi-year national recession that has held back economic growth. Even worse for national Democrats is that voters will start to take notice of next year’s planned hikes this fall. 

The duct tape, twine and other tricks embedded in Obamacare hide the devastating impact of this law until after elections are starting to wear out. For instance, the early data shows that the risk pools in Obamacare are not working. Additionally, the Obamacare premium supplements, basically government subsidies to keep premiums lower (particularly for those more expensive pre-existing patients) will be reduced by roughly 40 percent in 2015, thereby showing voters the true market response to this Act. The premium tax on insurers included in Obamacare will increase by 41 percent in 2015 and slam small businesses and family-owned shops that purchase insurance on the open market.

This is a crisis in every sense of the word for hardworking Americans and it is a political disaster for national Democrats this fall. 

Magic Johnson was right when he said true friends step up in a crisis. The true friends that pushed, drafted, supported and passed this law on the American people are now working together out of desperation to message their way through these next few months. 

In fact, that same Politico article accurately detailed this effort as follows, “In what aides say is a sign of a changed approach within the White House — but also heightened concerns around the midterms — they’re even coordinating with Hill Democrats, funneling localized background analysis and talking points to each state’s delegation through Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer’s Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. They’ve also relied on California Rep. Henry Waxman’s staff at the Energy and Commerce Committee to produce rebuttal reports, often in advance, on GOP claims about insurance.”

A political crisis of this magnitude has finally done what stalled presidential appointments and countless rounds of golf could not. National Democrats are finally putting their differences aside and desperately working together to convince voters Obamacare is not really as bad as everyone knows it to be.

Good luck selling that one to the American people, you’re going to need it.