When it comes to Republican governors and the Affordable Care Act, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) isn’t quite as far to the right as some of his brethren. Sure, he condemns the law and refused to create an exchange marketplace for consumers, but the governor at least accepted Medicaid expansion, making him a relative moderate on the issue.
But the more Christie talks about health care, the less he seems to understand it.
“This is a disaster and it was a train wreck that anybody who’s managed anything, ever, in their lives, could’ve seen coming,” Christie told New Jersey 101.5FM.“This is just an awful law. It made no sense and that’s why I didn’t get into a state exchange,” the Republican governor said on Monday, during the monthly “Ask the Governor” program.
Objectively, whether you love or hate “Obamacare,” this is kind of bizarre.
First, the notion that the law’s implementation difficulties were obvious in advance simply isn’t true. It’s not like Republicans and other detractors were warning for months that the troubled website wouldn’t work or that cancelation notices would cause a media feeding frenzy. If Christie saw the problems coming, why isn’t there a record of him predicting the recent troubles? Indeed, if anyone “could’ve seen” the missteps coming, shouldn’t someone in the Republican Party have piped up so they could say “I told you so” now?
Second, the notion that the open-enrollment problems offer proof that this is “an awful law” has it backwards. The dysfunctional website, for example, points to technical troubles, but doesn’t reflect on the underlying structure.
Third, if the system makes “no sense,” why is working well in Massachusetts, where Christie’s pal Mitt Romney put it into place years ago? And why did Christie embrace Medicaid expansion?
And finally, pointing to recent issues as a rationale for why he “didn’t get into a state exchange” doesn’t make any sense at all – states like Kentucky, California, Connecticut, and Washington created exchange marketplaces and have seen terrific results. Relying on problems with the federal exchange to justify the rejection of a state exchange is gibberish – Christie could have helped create a perfectly functional system in the Garden State, but refused for reasons he still hasn’t explained.
It’s possible the governor, gearing up for a national race, is just throwing around careless rhetoric to impress right-wing primary voters, and nonsense sells better than coherence. But if Christie wants to be taken seriously on matters of public policy, he’ll have to do a lot better than this.