Dems can't decide whether to embrace Obamacare or run away from it
It's a political dilemma that carries with it the seeds of a wave election. Just what should Democrats do about Obamacare as a political issue?
One one side, you have President Obama and the Democratic leadership saying the debate over the law is over and that Democrats should adopt the ACA and tout its "success." This view is echoed by some political consultants who think trying to run away from the law is a loser.
In truth, there's no place to hide for Democrats when it comes to Obamacare. And they are risking looking like idiots if they start touting its success - especially, as Rep. Lynch, a Democrat from Massachusetts believes, Obamacare's pain is only beginning:
Speaking to Boston Herald Radio last week, the only member of Massachusetts’ all-Democrat congressional delegation to vote against the 2010 health care reform law, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), warned that the Obamacare — well, you know — is about to “hit the fan.”
“There are parts of Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, that were postponed because they are unpalatable,” Lynch observed. “As these provisions come into effect, the administration thus far is saying, ‘Gee, we really can’t handle this right now so we’re going to delay it.’”
“These obligations keep piling up,” he continued. “Any individual with an individual healthcare plan that exceeds $10,200 is in a Cadillac plan situation. They’re going to have to pay — that employer, if they provide that, and many do today let alone in 2018 — will have to pay a 40 percent tax on the amount over the minimum established — excuse me, the maximum established under the Affordable Care Act.”
“That is a huge tax. It’s the first time in this country’s history that we have actually taxed health care,” Lynch said. “We used to treat it like food, that people would die without it. Well, we’re in a new day now.”
Here, Lynch implies that Republicans could — if they were so unscrupulous — turn the liberal strategy of accusing those Republican-led states that refused to expand Medicaid of murder on its head.
“We will lose seats in the House,” the Bay State congressman confessed when pressed on the likely political impact of the ACA. “I am fairly certain of that based on the poll numbers that are coming out from the more experienced pollsters down there. And I think we may lose the Senate.”
Lynch did not mince words when he said that the Democrats’ dire political straits are “primarily because of health care.”
If Democrats take the middle road and say that Obamacare is a good idea but needs fixing, they're likely to get slaughtered, says one pollster:
In terms of Obamacare, don’t defend it,” the respected Democratic pollster Celinda Lake urged in March following the release of her own extensive polling on the issue for George Washington University’s respected Battleground Poll. “Say it was flawed from the beginning, and we’re going to fix it.”
There’s just one problem with that strategy: it serves as an implicit rebuke of the 111th Congress, the Democratic Party’s leadership in the legislature, and President Barack Obama.
Perhaps this is why Democrats are busy convincing their colleagues to ignore Lake’s warnings. “I think Democrats should forcefully defend and be proud of [the ACA],” Obama… strongly advised the members of his party seeking office at a Thursday press conference.
The Associated Press helped lay the groundwork for the president’s call to action the day prior when they published a story featuring a variety of Democratic political consultants advising their ideological allies to take a similar course.
“Democrats need to start making the case for Obamacare,” said North Carolina-based Democratic consultant Thomas Mills. “They all voted for it, they all own it, so they can’t get away from it. So they’d better start defending it.”
Republicans should be able to counter any weak argument about Obamacare advanced by their opponents. And it wouldn't hurt to remind voters of all the elements of Obamacare that have been delayed because the pain they would cause would cost Democrats votes.
Bottom line: Democrats are dispirited because they see no way past their Obamacare dilemma and Republicans are confident that they can ride dissatisfaction with the law to control of the Senate.