CA17: Ro Khanna signs up for Obamacare

South Bay congressional candidate Ro Khanna is using his own, positive experience with the Covered California health benefit exchange as a campaign asset.

Khanna, the former Obama administration official from Fremont who’s challenging Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, in the 17th District, send an e-mail to supporters Wednesday saying he signed up for health insurance the night before.

“I’ve heard a lot of people criticize the website for being too slow or shutting down before they could finish. I had a good experience using Covered California — it didn’t take too long and I’m going to be paying less now than I was before,” he wrote. “Members of Congress sometimes forget what it is like for the rest of us because they are treated differently. As your Congressman, I promise that I will always think about you when I am making decisions – that is the sort of change that we need.”

The email included a link to this video:

In other CA-17 news, the Honda campaign was quick to use my Tuesday blog post about contributors to the campaigns in its own email to supporters – though it was used rather selectively.

An email from Honda campaign manager Doug Greven noted my report that Marc Leder and Peter Thiel – both prominent GOP donors – had contributed to Khanna’s campaign, as had Chamath Palihapitiya, who has donated to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign and said October’s government shutdown wasn’t a bad thing. The email’s subject line: “Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz & Ro Khanna.”

“What do some of the biggest backers of the Tea Party, and the host of the fundraiser where Mitt Romney made his infamous “47%” comment, have in common?” Greven wrote. “Probably a lot of things, but this one might surprise you: they are some of the biggest donors to Mike’s primary opponent. We need your help to fight back against the far-right conservatives trying to buy a Congressman to replace Mike.”

But Greven’s email didn’t note my point that California’s top-two primary system naturally means the anybody-but-Honda crowd will support whoever has the best chance of beating him, and given the district’s heavy Democratic and independent voter registration, that’s probably Khanna.

“This is what old-school politicians do — portray their opponent as a ‘friend of the devil’ to try to scare people into giving them money. It’s why our politics is so broken today,” replied Khanna spokesman Tyler Law. “He also fails to note that, during his career, he’s taken over a third of all his contributions from special-interest PACs, totaling millions of dollars. Ro has decided to forgo any contributions from PACs and federal lobbyists, because he believes that they have too much control over a Congress that consistently puts those special interests ahead of the interests of regular Americans.”

“Congressman Honda can choose to distort both Ro’s and his own fundraising practices in a desperate effort to raise money,” Law said. “But this kind of divisive, alarmist rhetoric doesn’t help solve our problems. It only exacerbates the dysfunction of our politics that has led to the least productive Congress in history and its record-low public standing.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    Next installment in our thrilling series, The Rise of Khana, Ro pays his taxes (but it’s a shame he doesn’t pay more!)

  • Elwood

    Ho ho ho!

    You go, Ro!

    What a guy!

  • Elwood
  • JohnW

    You mean all that smell and choking I endured flying around on planes in the late 70’s, early 80’s was actually good for me?

    I grew up with a chain-smoking mom and grandparents. They all paid the price. Didn’t think much of it then. In fact, the family loved all the stuff we purchased with the Raleigh cigarette coupons. Keep puffing mom. I want that transistor radio. But now. If I walk into a hotel room where anybody has smoked in the past month, I can’t stand it. Have to take all the clothes to the cleaner.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    I have always enjoyed second-hand smoke. It may not be good for small children, but as an adult with healthy respiration, it clearly has done me no harm. If we tolerate drunks and pot smokers, why not extend tolerance to cigarette, cigar and pipe smokers?

  • JohnW

    You enjoy second-hand smoke? Seriously?

  • Elwood

    And the amazing Obamacare cluster**** rolls on. The Imperial Kenyan, ruling from Hawaii, has decreed that the signup deadline shall be moved by a day. Whatever happened to the Constitution and Congress passing/changing laws?

    “The amazing, ever-expanding deadline? It’s clearly a sign of
    desperation by the administration to do everything they can to increase
    the number of people signing up,” said health economist Gail Wilensky, who ran Medicare for President George H.W. Bush.


  • JohnW

    Yeah, what a terrible thing — keeping the doors open so that the rush of people trying to enroll can get coverage Jan 1! That’s somehow gutting the Constitution? Two million visitors on Monday does not suggest to me that this is a desperate effort to pump up the numbers. Would it somehow be in the public interest to tell people, “so sorry, too late, you screwed, we have our rules you know!”

    You have yourself a Merry Christmas, Elwood. I’m glad you have health care.

  • Elwood

    It’s not about people getting or not getting health care, John, it’s about the Godawful arrogance of Obama and his contempt for Congress and the Constitution. Where does he get the authority to arbitrarily change an act of Congress?

    Missed the field goal again? Must be time to move the goal posts again. And round and round it goes and where it stops nobody knows. After the Reeps sweep the House and Senate in ’14, Obama will be even more irrelevant.

    And I wonder how many of these sign ups (other than Medicaid which is free) have paid their premiums, subsidized or otherwise? If it’s anything like other shopping sites, something like 3/4 of the shoppers never take their cart to checkout. Oh, never mind. Obama moved those goal posts once and probably will do it again.

  • JohnW

    Ho, ho, ho!

    Mitt Romney promised to effectively kill Obamacare by executive order on his first day in office. Had that occurred, I’m sure you would be screaming about the Godawful arrogance of that Imperial SOB violating the Constitution by refusing to execute a law he doesn’t like.

    In the case of these deadlines, all they are doing is giving people a break by shifting the administrative deadline for getting enrolled for January 1 coverage — so that people who have made a good faith effort to meet the deadlines won’t get burned by circumstances beyond their control. That is hardly the stuff of executive abuse of Constitutional authority, and no court would ever decide otherwise. There are all kinds of legal precedents about this. The executive branch has always been given considerable administrative flexibility in carrying out laws; because it is impossible to write laws that foresee every circumstance that might arise.

    Delaying the employer mandate, and some of the waivers could be more legally contentious if adjudicated. People have made persuasive arguments on both sides. Even those actions, however, don’t add up to the typical situation where a court would intervene.

    Historically, the courts have over-ruled executive branch actions or inactions when they were designed for the purpose of sabotaging laws they disagree with. That’s what Romney was blatantly promising to do. And there have been numerous examples of courts ordering administrations to implement environmental laws they didn’t like. Another area where the courts would step in would be if an administration exceeded its authority — say by paying extended unemployment benefits that Congress clearly decided not to continue and then shifting funds from the Defense budget to pay for it. Nothing Obama has done regarding the ACA falls into those categories.

    We’ll find out about the signup statistics soon enough. I don’t know if they will hit the CBO projection of 7 million by March 31st open enrollment deadline, but the numbers will be big. What matters about the early enrollment is not the total number, but the mix of young and healthy and old an sick. Despite the glitches, the pace of enrollments is light years ahead of what was experienced with RomneyCare — a law that is generally considered successful and popular.

  • Elwood

    “no court would ever decide otherwise”

    “the numbers will be big”

    We’ll see.

    It’s nice that you are a true believer, John. Everybody has to believe in something. I believe that Obamacare will soon be a comic footnote to history.

  • JohnW

    Actually, Elwood, I am not a true believer in this legislation. But it’s what we’ve got for people who don’t have employer insurance or Medicare. Republicans never offer any SERIOUS alternatives, so I think we should make this work.

    The established individual health insurance market is horrible, horrible; which is why only 15 million of 60 million under-65 people without employer insurance are in it. I was and remain a true believer in breaking it and starting over — which is what Obamacare does. That doesn’t mean I agree with every detail.

    I’m in favor of decoupling all health care from employment, whether it’s BART or Microsoft. Everybody should be in a seamless universal system — either tax supported single payer or a private insurance exchange system with income based subsidies. People who wanted to arrange their health care outside of that could, but they would be on their own.

    By the way, decoupling from employment is a long-established conservative idea.

    Our current “system” is a convoluted hodge-podge: employer insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIPs, individual market, charity care etc. It has caused incredible inefficiencies, duplication, cost shifting and lack of transparency. If you set out to design the worst possible payer system, you couldn’t do better than what we have.

  • Elwood

    If you set out to design the worst possible system, you couldn’t do better than Obamacare!

    Sorry. The devil made me do it.

  • JohnW

    Well, to an extent, the devil in you may be right. Obamacare is a restructuring and band-aiding of the individual health insurance market. With or without Obamacare, that is far and away the worst part of the total health insurance market. Obamacare rids that market of business practices that never should have been allowed in the first place. And, through the subsidies, makes it more accessible to the 60 million who have nowhere else to go for coverage. Don’t like the subsidies? Then, get rid of the subsidies we already provide for employer insurance and Medicare.