Obamacare

Does the House Health Care Repeal Bill Present an Opportunity For Democrats to Defend ObamaCare?

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Now that House Republicans are moving to pass a bill fully repealing last year's health care overhaul, the debate has turned into a Bizarro-world negative image of last year's biggest legislative fight. Before the PPACA's passage, Republicans were arguing that the bill shouldn't become law because it wouldn't reduce the deficit and it would cut Medicare. They were also fairly effective in criticizing Democrats for focusing on an unwieldy and unpopular piece of legislation rather than on finding ways to encourage job creation.

These days, as the House moves towards a repeal vote on January 12, Democrats are using a strikingly similar set of talking points against Republicans. They're warning that repealing the law would cut Medicare benefits and add to the deficit. And they're complaining that Republicans are pushing a base-driven repeal effort when they should be focusing on—you guessed it—creating jobs.

Democrats have also kept one weapon from their pre-passage rhetorical arsenal: the argument that voters will finally begin to support the law if reminded of some of the specific, popular consumer benefits it contains. For example, take a look at this Politico report on Democratic Rep. Peter Welch, who earlier this week sent a letter to his fellow Democrats urging them to defend the law:

Welch sees it as a crucial opportunity for Dems to hammer home what consumers like about reform. "The health care debate is going from the general 'Obamacare' rhetoric to specific, real benefits for real people," he told PULSE in an interview. "We're going to fight like hell to preserve those benefits."

In column earlier this week titled "Bring on the health-care fight," Eugene Robinson said much the same thing: Repealing the unpopular law, he wrote, "sounds fine, until you actually look at the pieces. Already in effect are parts of the reform package that no self-interested politician is going to vote to take away."

Liberal confidence about the law's prospects for popularity has often soared higher than warranted. Robinson's basic argument—that because certain elements of the bill poll well, Democrats ought to be able convert those warm feelings into popularity for the whole legislation—was made frequently before the law passed, but it wasn't all that successful. As Philip Klein reminds us, "Democrats tried to make these arguments throughout the health care debate and the 2010 elections to no avail." And a big part of that, I suspect, is that it was an attempt to paper over the law's trade-offs. 

Think of it this way: After support dipped for Bush's proposed Social Security overhaul, it probably would have been possible to poll specific elements—stabilizing Social Security's finances, offering more choice and control—and find majority support, especially with the right phrasing. Yet I suspect that most liberals opposed to Bush's plan would have responded that regardless of how the public views specific parts of the proposal, it's the entire package that matters, and, on the whole, the entire package doesn't have enough support.

And that's essentially what's going on with the health care law: There may be specific provisions that people like, but when you look at the law as a whole, there's more opposition than support—a fact that has been consistently true since sometime during the summer of 2009. Polling isn't as thorough on the question repeal, but over the last few months, Rasmussen has put out several polls showing support at or near 60 percent. Democrats may see this bill as an opportunity to defend the law, but if their history with this rhetorical tactic is any guide, it won't work very well, and for obvious reasons: The law, as a whole, just isn't popular, and a large portion of the public would like to see it repealed. The House repeal bill is a straightforward way to take advantage of these facts.

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  1. Repealing the unpopular law, he wrote, “sounds fine, until you actually look at the pieces. Already in effect are parts of the reform package that no self-interested politician is going to vote to take away.”

    Yes, I made the trains run on time.

  2. So the Democrat message is that we should eat the whole pile of shit because there are a few cherries hidden in it. It should be easy to counter with a strategy of repealing the whole thing, but writing the “good” parts into separate bills and debating them separately. Which is exactly what they should have done in the first place.

    1. So the Democrat message is that we should eat the whole pile of shit because there are a few cherries hidden in it.

      Those are not “cherries” – they’re dingle berries

  3. For every kid with pre-existing condition that now has insurance or 24 year old “child” still on his parents policy there is an employer who dropped child insurance coverage completely because the cost was now too high.

  4. My proposed bill will

    1. Give you $100.
    2. Give you another $100.
    3. Have your children torn to bits by starving wolves.

    Since #1 and #2 poll well, people clearly love my bill.

    1. 3. Have your other people’s children torn to bits by starving wolves. That’s why people would clearly love your bill.

  5. P = # of kids w/pre-existing conditions
    E = # of elderly afraid of being denied treatment

    E >> P ==> it ain’t gonna work

  6. The Repubicans like all politicians are lying sacks of shit. But, they at least still retain the ability to put their fingers to the wind. And after 2008, they did just that and realized they had a problem. They probably didn’t mean it. But they at least said the right things during their two years out of power.

    The Democrats have become so insulated and smug, they can’t even lie properly anymore. They really don’t think they have a problem with the public. I don’t think they are going to change one bit over the next two years. They are not even going to pretend to care what the public thinks.

    1. They really don’t think they have a problem with the public.

      Actually, they do know they’ve got a problem.

      They don’t care. “Saving the uninsured” was never their true goal in the first place.

      What I don’t see the Republicans doing, is attacking the bill on the grounds that make the Democrats insist on it: the imposition of socialist principles on the public at large.

  7. Speaking of the health care bill, it appears that the Obama administration quietly reversed course within the last couple of days and eliminated the death panel bureaucratic regulation they tried to sneakily enact late last year.

    1. That was fast. I think I have whiplash.

  8. How to Repeal Obamacare

    I think this idea is simple, and will be effective – if not at repealing, then at least in setting the nation up for another anti-Democrat, anti-Obama, and anti-Obamacare wave election in 2012.

  9. HSIEH: Best health care political pull can buy
    …As a result of Obamacare, fewer physicians will work in the familiar two- to five-person small-group practices most Americans prefer. Instead, doctors will be increasingly driven into large, impersonal “accountable care organizations” – not to take better care of their patients, but simply to survive economically. This consolidation is not some “unintended consequence,” but rather an explicit goal, as White House health adviser Nancy-Ann DeParle acknowledged when praising Obamacare for encouraging “vertical organization of providers” and “physician employment by hospitals and aggregation into larger physician groups.”…

    …Yet while Obamacare is suppressing genuine marketplace competition for medical services, it is also spurring a more sinister facsimile of competition – for political favors. Employers and insurers with sufficient political clout can save money by obtaining a much-coveted “waiver,” exempting them from onerous new insurance regulations. The 222 current recipients of such waivers include popular employers such as McDonald’s and Universal Orlando as well as the Service Employees Benefit Fund, which insures members of the Service Employees International Union (a major political supporter of the Obama administration). Because these waivers are granted at the discretion of the secretary of health and human services, they create easy opportunities for political favoritism and corruption…

    1. That bill was truly evil.

    2. We were discussing this at work yesterday. This is EXACTLY what will happen/is happening.

      Benefits = the WORST part of my job – hate it. Mostly b/c of the gummint interference and meddling involvement and “help” – above all the other things that suck about handling benefits, that is #1.

      And I’m responsible for labor negotiations (of course we’re unionized!), so that may give you some idea of how much benefits admin sucks. HATE it.

    3. CMS is supposed to drop the ACO reg sometime by the end of the month or early February. The problem is they don’t have a clue on how to set these up. When these don’t work, I would expect more docs to go the boutique route.

      1. The ACO regs were supposed to be out by Thanksgiving, then by the end of the year . . . .

        CMS has no expertise in this area, and is currently in the middle of a shooting war between the insurers and the providers, both of which are trying to capture ACOs for their side.

    4. I hate this as much as any part of the bill. If it’s such a great fucking law then everyone should have to follow it. If it’s not so great then it needs to be repealed (or at least starved to death–Obama can veto a repeal but he can’t force Congress to fund it).

  10. Alternate Suder-headline: Pelosi Makes Me Wet, But Those Mean Old Republicans Took Her Gavel Away!

  11. This consolidation is not some “unintended consequence,” but rather an explicit goal, as White House health adviser Nancy-Ann DeParle acknowledged when praising Obamacare for encouraging “vertical organization of providers” and “physician employment by hospitals and aggregation into larger physician groups.”…

    The fetish these people have for large organizations and centralized authority never ceases to amaze me. It’s like they have a visceral hatred of small, autonomous businesses.

    (see also: FDIC making biggest banks ever bigger)

    1. That’s the whole point of socialism: eliminate local control, and impose “uniform” central control. So that nobody gets to have a single extra hair ribbon more than anybody else has.

      Which is really what drives the liberals in this whole thing.

      The Republicans, of course, will never attack them on these very grounds….

      1. “So that nobody gets to have a single extra hair ribbon more than anybody else has.”

        You are charitable to ascribe such benign motivations to liberals. Somehow, liberals in power are always more equal than those whom they rule.

  12. Pollster: “Do you like food?”

    People: “Yes.”

    Pollster: “Do you like having a bed to sleep in?”

    People: “Sure.”

    Pollster: “Would you like to live in a gated community?”

    People: “Why not?”

    Poll Results: “People would love going to prison as it is a gated community offering free food and a bed and a high percentage of the population want those things.”

  13. And the race is on. Will O’Care be voted against by one half of Congress, a mostly thatrical ploy, not likely to succeed, or will the judiciary shred it to pieces as the odious piece of bullshit it really is? Film at 11.

    Oh, and note to Congresscritters in general – ‘creating jobs’? Not on your fucking ‘to do’ list. The best you morons could hope for is to not fuck things up so that the things that DO create jobs don’t get totally ghe-fucked by your idiocy. Learn it. Live it. Or just go pour gas on yourselves and play with matches, please.

    1. Angry silly rant. The public has spoken on Obamacare – 50% approve and more than half of that opposition is from the Left. Compare that with the 13% Congress itself gets. The Constitutional challenge is only from one obscure Right-wing hack judge, and is easily answered with the Preamble and the Commerce clause.

      1. “The public has spoken on Obamacare – 50% approve and more than half of that opposition is from the Left.”
        I’m sure a well-practiced brain-dead like you can find some poll that makes that claim.

        “The Constitutional challenge is only from one obscure Right-wing hack judge, and is easily answered with the Preamble and the Commerce clause.”
        Two for two on lies.

        1. I will not quote a poll when I know I’m right. I don’t see any reason for other commenters to credit your baseless assertion either.

          The real lie here is the faux-libertarian talking-point that sells out the working people and poor. You rant and rave against $0.9T for the under-insured (over 10 years) but have no issue with the annual $27B for Lockheed Martin, the $20B for Boeing, the wars off which they profit being completely immoral and illegal, and useless and indefensible for libertarians, and another example of our nation’s endless physical assault on the poor.

          1. You must be new. You do realize that libertarians are not the same as Republicans?

            1. “faux-libertarian,” i.e. sevo

              1. Al Dorman|1.6.11 @ 2:17PM|#
                “faux-libertarian,” i.e. sevo”

                Lemme guess; you’re one of those assholes whose college buddy read part of the first chapter in Atlas Shrugged, and you and he got drunk one evening and ‘discussed’ it.
                As a result, you became an instant authority on libertarianism.
                Simple minds………

                1. Guess again. I’ve read Rand, Rothbard, Nozick, Chomsky, and others, all while I was drunk. And, yes I think I appreciate the stance a good deal more than the sullen & angry Randroid, which is the typical creature found on this comment-board, aka a Republican who’s never worked a day in his young life and just wants to be different.

          2. “The real lie here is the faux-libertarian talking-point that sells out the working people and poor. You rant and rave against $0.9T for the under-insured (over 10 years) but have no issue with the annual $27B for Lockheed Martin, the $20B for Boeing, the wars off which they profit being completely immoral and illegal, and useless and indefensible for libertarians, and another example of our nation’s endless physical assault on the poor.”
            So to outright lies, we can add strawmen. Oh, good; brain-dead special of the day.

          3. “another example of our nation’s endless physical assault on the poor”

            I haven’t gone to a “give the poor a beatin'” party in a while. I need to get out more.

          4. “I will not quote a poll when I know I’m right. I don’t see any reason for other commenters to credit your baseless assertion either.”

            Well, I say your 100% full of it. I won’t show my poll either because I know I’m right.

            You do realize genius under the Commerce clause Obame Care isn’t legal.

            And have you ever read the Preamble.

            What color is the sky in your reality?

          5. Uh, if you hang around here a while you’ll see that everyone here hates corporate welfare, and the vast majority of us think we should get the fuck out of Iran and Afghanistan, or at the most leave a skeleton crew behind.

            1. Make that Iraq and Afghanistan :–)

            2. “Uh, if you hang around here a while you’ll see that everyone here hates corporate welfare, and the vast majority of us think we should get the fuck out of Iran and Afghanistan, or at the most leave a skeleton crew behind.”
              … and drugs. We like drugs, lots of drugs, all kinds of drugs … and the gay.

              1. *and Ron Paul & Son.

      2. http://www.realclearpolitics.c…..-1130.html

        Which poll are you citing, dude? Here’s like 10 of them showing an avg approval of 40.5, with the highest of all of those polls at 44. You lose.

        Also, your idea of what libertarian means around here is hilariously uninformed.

  14. The comparison with Bush’s SS rewrite is a bit lame. Republicans were so uncomfortable with the Bush plan that they refused to bring it up for a vote. The Democrats, of course, passed Obamacare. And support didn’t “dip” for the Bush plan. It sank. And how many people want to trust their retirement to the stock market these days?

    1. “And how many people want to trust their retirement to the stock market these days?”

      God forbid we give people a choice.

    2. And how many people want to trust their retirement to the stock market these days?

      As opposed to trusting it to the government? (snicker)

  15. I don’t think Klein supports his assertion that the democrats attempted to use the health care bill passage in the 2010 elections. As someone who thought the bill was better than nothing I was paying attention and didn’t hear or see a single ad promoting the items in the bill that are overwhelmingly popular.

    I think this purely symbolic vote (since it’s going to die in the Senate) may bite the republicans in the ass. It’s going to force the folks who are trying to keep the bill to actively defend it and there’s a lot of items in there – particularly the ones involving protecting insurance accessibility for kids – that people like.

    There’s a reason the death panels blather worked well for people – it put the folks defending it in the position of having to define things like end of life counseling before they could even address the claim. Now this vote is going to let Obamacare defenders claim it’s a vote against preventing insurers from refusing care to newborns, leaving pro-repeal folk in the position of having to explain the subtleties.

    1. “particularly the ones involving protecting insurance accessibility for kids -”

      Uh, why not try to be honest?
      “On September 23, 2010, the initial parts of the Health Care Reform law took effect. Just before that date, tens of thousands of children around America lost their health insurance because of stupid and irresponsible wording in the new Health Care Reform law.”
      http://www.dakotavoice.com/?p=44172

    2. It’s not going to die in the Senate. Too many Senators can take a disingenuous, worry free yes vote to maintain their chances in their red states.

  16. There may be specific provisions that people like, but when you look at the law as a whole, there’s more opposition than support

    And which would be a more accurate assessment of people’s opinions of the content of the law? Republicans aren’t trashing policy here, they’re trashing the Obamacare bogeyman they invented in order to do so.

    They aren’t standing up saying “we must revert to the old standard on preexisting conditions!” They’re saying “monster! kill it!” which is about as mature as their political rhetoric is these days.

    1. “They’re saying “monster! kill it!” ”

      So honesty bothers you?

    2. They aren’t standing up saying “we must revert to the old standard on preexisting conditions!” They’re saying “monster! kill it!”

      You’re just upset because the tactic worked. Your tears are sweet and yummy and taste like sour grapes.

  17. which is about as mature as their political rhetoric is these days.

    As opposed to promising free unlimited health care for everybody.

    And ponies.

    1. Yes, universal healthcare, that utopian, unattainable goal that every other advanced country on earth has managed to reach.

      But of course it’s out of the question here. Congress has more important things to do. There are, after all, still rich people paying taxes.

      1. it’s universal in other countries – with price controls, limited access (aka Death Panels) and long wait times. Sign me up!

      2. Tony|1.6.11 @ 1:19PM|#
        “Yes, universal healthcare, that utopian, unattainable goal that every other advanced country on earth has managed to reach.”

        Repeating a lie makes you a multiple liar. It does nothing to the lie itself.

        1. Yes, I want to wait 5 years for a surgery that I need but the government doesn’t consider it an emergency.

          Like bypasses, hip replaces and the like.

          I guess that great Conservative Rosie ODonnell is making it all up –

          From her radio show :

          ROSIE O’DONNELL (42:46): How can universal health care be so good if you’re waiting seven years?

          CALLER: It’s not considered an emergency surgery–

          O’DONNELL: Oh, OK.

          CALLER: It’s considered elective, so if it was an emergency surgery, it would be a lot quicker. To see any kind of specialist is at least a few months, you’re not going to get into see somebody next week.

          O’DONNELL: If you called and sort of were persistent in saying to them, ‘I really need this’… it doesn’t change the [waiting-] list order.

          CALLER: …They’re telling me, by the way, it’s gonna be another two or three years…

          […]

          There’s still about 2,000 people ahead of me

        2. Why is it a lie? Because it’s devastating to the libertarian case? That would be pathetic apologetics for a system that costs twice as much, assuming you can even get care. I know how you guys operate.

      3. “Yes, universal healthcare, that utopian, unattainable goal that every other advanced country on earth has managed to reach”

        Actually that advanced level of socialism is proof that those countries aren’t “advanced” at all.

  18. The real lie here is the faux-libertarian talking-point that sells out the working people and poor. You rant and rave against $0.9T for the under-insured (over 10 years) but have no issue with the annual $27B for Lockheed Martin, the $20B for Boeing, the wars off which they profit being completely immoral and illegal, and useless and indefensible for libertarians, and another example of our nation’s endless physical assault on the poor.

    Now give me the winning lottery numbers.

  19. The right thing to do would be to replace PPACA with something better rather instead of just repealing it. Since it’s the right thing to do, it’s the last thing Congress would ever do.

  20. The real problem with this bill is that it is an attempt to control the health industry. Instead of allows individuals to freely make choices in how they acquire and GIVE medical treatment to others it removes that choice in favor of regulations that dictate what is to be sold and recieved. I suspect anything the FDA doesn’t approve of will be cut off even if you as a patient wanted it. Its an assault on the power that individuals have to make choices over their own lives.

    1. No it isn’t. Do any of you actually know what’s in the bill, or do you just repeat right-wing lies you heard on the radio or TV? It’s not actually all that revolutionary a change. It’s actually a Republican bill. But because Obama passed it, it’s the devil, and that’s the only reason.

      1. “It’s actually a Republican bill. But because Obama passed it, it’s the devil, and that’s the only reason.”

        He’s right you know. If the Republicans had written it and passed it, I would soooo support it. Totally. That would make all the difference. Come on you all. Let’s all admit it together. It will be therapeutic.

      2. Yeah, you don’t see much criticism of Republicans at Reason.

        1. Only mindless repetition of the talking points they paid for.

  21. Let’s put Obamacare up for a national vote, see how much support it really has.

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