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WASHINGTON – House Democrats are avoiding the new significance of their midwinter party, er, midwinter conference. The affair at a posh resort on the Maryland eastern shore is usually called a “retreat.” But that name is now too close for comfort in a military sense.

President Obama is slated to attend, perhaps to try to help figure out what the Democrats’ election year story is. The party’s national chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, told House Democrats the big election year story is Obamacare. But that was two months ago, before the president issued executive orders calling off the employer mandate for midsized businesses until 2016 at the earliest.

The rollout of the health exchanges is still a mess, with the New York Times reporting Friday that 20 percent of those who did struggle through the digital tangle to sign up didn’t pay their premium for it. But as recently as Thursday night, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was urging her flock to “stand tall” for Obamacare.

Perhaps the president and the rank-and-file can also figure out what he means by “middle class.” In his State of the Union message, Obama waved that banner the way he does about increasing manufacturing jobs. His income mobility plan was to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. “Middle class” used to mean that breadwinners made enough money to buy a house, help their children into college and even own a toy like a boat or a motorcycle.

Perhaps the Democrats can conjure up from the briny waters of the Chesapeake an alchemist, a medieval faker who claimed he could create gold from base metals, to bridge the income gap.

Obama was still talking “middle class” uplift in his radio message the following weekend. Then it hit the fan. The semi-independent Congressional Budget Office forecast that Obamacare will not increase the employed middle class but would actually cut the workforce by at least 2.3 million employees over 10 years.

These people, the CBO predicted, would drop out of the workforce to avoid paying for federal health care and instead would lower or end their outside income so their health care costs will be subsidized by those who still work.

Some estimate the cut in the workforce could total 3 million souls. The Democratic media hiccupped; then it offered the latest, and perhaps its most honest, version of the middle class under Obama. The folks who drop out will be free to seek their dreams on the couch and spend more time with their families. This was passed out by the White House and top Democratic spokesmen in response to the CBO report. Obama’s middle class would be part of the emerging and growing dependency class, people living off somebody else for life. This is an entirely new version of the American dream.

Analysts complain that accurate counts are very hard to get on those who are currently living out their dreams on food stamps, unemployment insurance, federal welfare, housing assistance and disability benefits.

Hard data of payments to these dependents date from early 2013. They were at record highs – even while the economy was said to be recovering. Is the new dependency class now anointed by the Democratic Party?

In the face of these unanswered questions, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, collapsed. Now seeing himself as more cat herder than leader, Boehner obtained for Obama unlimited borrowing power not just for a few months, but for the entire year.

Obama on Friday was reportedly planning to use this blank check on the national debt to turn over to the United Nations $1 billion to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions, without congressional approval. Chaos.

email: dturner@buffnews.com