Dems plan to neutralize Obamacare as an election issue
It sounds like wishful thinking, but Democrats have a plan to try and neutralize the effects Obamacare as an election issue.
A memo obtained by Politico outlines a basic strategy that hammers home some points that the Dems see in their favor:
But as conservative groups pump tens of millions of dollars into anti-Obamacare ads, Democrats are reacting in their own ads and on the stump with the same talking points: that the GOP has wasted too much time on repeal votes, that it's time to move on to solving the law's problems, and that Republicans want to return to the days where insurance companies took advantage of customers. Some Democrats also are resurrecting the claim that Republicans will gut Medicare.
"The best way to push back on the attacks we know Republicans will launch over health care is to be on offense about what your opponent would do to health care while highlighting your commitment to fixing and improving the law," Jesse Ferguson, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's deputy executive director, wrote in the memo.
The five-page document, dated Jan. 30, was sent to House candidates and included 17 poll-tested lines of attack against Republicans who have voted to repeal the law, complete with research citations.
The messages not only warn that the GOP would undo some popular aspects of the law - such as preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions - but some also target demographics such as women and the elderly who are considered extra sensitive to the law's effects. Thus the claim that GOP candidates would let insurance companies deny coverage to female victims of domestic violence, allow the costs of prescription drugs to rise for seniors, or deny coverage for contraception.
Another key theme of the strategy is to paint the Republicans as mere tools of the all-powerful insurance companies. One suggested talking point in the memo alleges the GOP's approach would mean bigger bonuses for insurance company CEOs.
The strategy aims to highlight the most popular elements of the law while trying to avoid directly mentioning it whenever possible. It's an uphill task in part because Democrats must appeal to independents frustrated by the law without alienating their liberal base. That requires finesse that some of the party's candidates may not have.
This sounds all well and good, except Republicans basically hardly need to lift a finger. What will drive people to vote is their personal experience with Obamacare and from what we've seen so far, those experiences do not favor the Democrats. Higher premiums, coverage they don't want, being kicked off their insurance and unable to keep their doctor - all of this and more will make whatever the Democrats say about Obamacare seem hollow and empty.
Polls do indeed show that the voters want Obamacare fixed. And some individual aspects of the law are fairly popular. But the bad news is just beginning and it is likely that by November, the law's obvious flaws will overwhelm any attempt by Democrats to neutralize Obamacare as an issue and drag many of them down to defeat.