Obama Should Have Personally Announced the Latest Obamacare Deadline Extension

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Chris Hayes used his program tonight to highlight a deadline extension for a health care program—one that happened back in 2006. Here’s how Knight Ridder reported it at the time:

With pressure mounting to extend next Monday’s enrollment deadline for the Medicare prescription-drug benefit, the Bush administration took another small step in that direction Tuesday, waiving penalty fees for very low-income seniors and people with disabilities who sign up late….The move follows a recent administration decision to allow the same impoverished beneficiaries to sign up for Medicare drug coverage until Dec. 31.

“In other words, you can apply after May 15th without penalty. And that’s important for low-income seniors to understand,” President Bush told a group of older Americans in Sun City Center, Fla., on Tuesday.

This is mostly being used to show Republican hypocrisy. They’re all yelling and screaming about President Obama’s “lawlessness” in extending the deadline for Obamacare signups, but none of them uttered a peep of protest when President Bush did the same thing. What a bunch of partisan hacks.

And fair enough. But I have a different lesson to take from this: You’ll notice that Bush treated his extension like something worth taking credit for. He personally announced it. In a speech. That showed up on television. And people heard about it because the press pays more attention to things when the president says them.

Obama’s deadline extension, by contrast, was passively conveyed to the media via anonymous “administration officials.” Granted, Obama is in Europe at the moment, and maybe he’ll say something personally when he gets back. But even if he does, it’ll be old news by then and nobody will bother with it.

That’s a missed opportunity. And it’s especially unfortunate given today’s news that 61 percent of the currently uninsured are unaware of the March 31 deadline. It sure seems like the deadline extension would have been a handy excuse to put the president in front of the cameras to tell everyone that they had only a few days left to start the signup process.

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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