We recently discussed the stinging criticism of Sen. Chuck Schumer who called Obamacare a colossal political mistake and something that was not a priority for the American people. It was a remarkable admission from the third ranking and one of the most liberal Senate Democrats. Now, perhaps the most liberal departing member has given his own departing shot at the White House and Democratic Leadership. Retiring Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa has gone public with criticism that the Affordable Care Act was badly written and should not have been passed. Like Schumer, he is not questioning the value of health care but said that the current law was not worth doing because of its inherent flaws.
Harkin’s criticism was a bit different from Schumer, who indicated that he would have preferred not to have passed health care in the first term at all. Harkin told The Hill newspaper that ObamaCare that the leadership and White House blew it when they had the majority and should have gone all the way to guarantee funding and a more logical structure to the program: “We had the power to do it in a way that would have simplified healthcare, made it more efficient and made it less costly and we didn’t do it. So I look back and say we should have either done it the correct way or not done anything at all.”
I spoke on Capitol Hill before the passage of the ACA and remarked that the legislation was in the worst condition that I had seen in 30 years in terms of a major piece of legislation. As someone who supports national health care, it was very disappointing, if not alarming, to see the condition of the law. The few sections that I reviewed read like a first draft from a LA’s computer. Democratic staffers told me later that they agreed and that the legislation was not ready. However, with the death of Kennedy (and the replacement by Brown), the Democratic leadership and the White House decided to push through the poorly crafted law on a muscle vote — which led to a number of Democrats being defeated on the marginal vote. The result is that the ACA has been a continual struggle as hundreds of serious drafting errors and flaws have had to be addressed.
Harkin is the retiring chairman of the Senate health panel and helped write the law.