It's Obamacare's fault! The all-purpose punching bag gets the blame again. AOL's health care expenses went up this year, just as they have every year since the company was founded, but this time it's Obamacare's fault. Why? Well, why not? It's a mighty handy excuse, isn't it? And it certainly distracts everyone from the fact that AOL is shafting its employees even though it just announced its best results in a decade.
"As a CEO and as a management team, we have to decide: Do we pass the $7.1 million of Obamacare cost to our employees? Or do we try to eat as much of that as possible and cut benefits?," Armstrong told CNBC. (The CEO later suggested benefit cuts were also necessary in part because two women at the company had "distressed babies.")
Kevin Drum's incredulity rings true.
Armstrong's excuses were disappointing, but the larger point is that the Affordable Care Act is quickly becoming a convenient scapegoat for all kinds of things.
Income inequality has ushered in a new Gilded Age? Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) thinks we should blame Obamacare.
Car insurance rates have gone up for Michigan drives? The Republican U.S. Senate candidate in the state thinks locals should blame Obamacare.
The job market is struggling to add jobs? House Speaker John Boehner thinks Americans should blame Obamacare.
Why are so many Americans struggling in poverty? RNC Chairman Reince Priebus believes it's because the poor are "straddled with Obamacare [sic]."
Not long ago, Rudy Giuliani became the subject of ridicule for his unique ability to incorporate the 9/11 attacks into practically every sentence on every subject. People laughed at him because his shtick became so tiresome -- Giuliani was overly eager to tie himself (and his political fortunes) to the terrorist attack, which ultimately made him appear foolish when he referenced 9/11 too much.
The Affordable Care Act's detractors are quickly falling into the same pattern. The law is hardly perfect and its rollout has gone through widely reported difficulties, but the ACA is doing a lot of good for a lot of Americans. Trying to hold it responsible it for various unrelated problems, forcing "blame Obamacare!" into every sentence, is unwise.