Obamacare

Democrats' Empty Obamacare Fix-It Strategy

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Landrieu.Senate.gov

Democrats can't run on Obamacare. And they can't run on repealing it. So they've settled on a middle ground—keep Obamacare, but fix it!

The problem is that most of the Democrats running on fixing Obamacare have little if anything to say about how they would fix it. And the few tweaks they have proposed wouldn't fundamentally change the law, or what people dislike about it. It's a sort of turnabout for Democrats who have long complained about the GOP's shallow health policy.

You can see how well the fix-it strategy worked for Florida congressional candidate Alex Sink, who, despite better funding, name recognition, and an early lead, lost to a trouble-plagued Republican campaign by lobbyist David Jolly. The race was about more than Obamacare, but Jolly hit Sink with ads bashing her for supporting the health law, and Sink, who wasn't in Congress when the law passed, responded by distancing herself from President Obama's implementation and promising to fix what was broken about the law. How? That was never quite clear.

Embattled Democratic senator Mary Landrieu, who is facing an extremely tough race in Louisiana, is taking a similar approach with her ad campaign. Landrieu at least has a fix in mind—a bill she sponsored to let people with cancelled individual insurance coverage keep their plans. But it's basically been made moot by President Obama's administrative tweaks to the same effect. And it wouldn't solve the law's more enduring political problems; opposition to Obamacare predates last year's wave of plan cancellations.

Even if Democrats wanted to go further, what could they do? As the Washington Examiner's Byron York argued recently, the more meaningful the changes, the more those changes undermine the law. This is a problem that is already plaguing the administration, which has attempted to salvage the law's short-term political prospects in ways that are likely to undermine its policy mechanisms—and thus, eventually, create longer term political headaches. Indeed, the administration's run of tweaks suggests the limits of the fix-it strategy: Despite a series of highly political alterations to the law, approval remains shaky. 

The faux fix-it campaign turns the tables on Democrats, who have (not entirely unreasonably) made much out of the GOP's lack of alternative health policy solutions. Now it is Democrats who have no meaningful alternative to their own unpopular law. They are hoping that since some polls show more of the public would rather fix the law than repeal it, this will pay off. But in some ways that puts Democrats in a worse place than their opponents. The public may not be happy with the Republican Party's unwillingness to propose a replacement, but at least there's the possibility that one will emerge, and be acceptable, at some point in the future. The public knows full well what Democrats support, however, and they have been consistently clear that they do not like it.

Fundamentally, what Democrats are hoping is that opposition to Obamacare is only surface-level fixation. But years of steady opposition, and rough poll numbers following the rollout of what were supposed to be the law's biggest and more crowd-pleasing benefits, make that a tough proposition to support. Despite endless predictions that a shift was right around the corner—just as soon as the public found out about the law's benefits—public disapproval of the health law has remained strong.

Partisans are now advising Democrats to more fully embrace Obamacare, in hopes that a more aggressive strategy will work where the timid fix-it dance has failed. But that only shows how few options the party has with regard to the law, for it amounts to little more than the continued hope that public opinion on the law will flip, and that what is now a liability for Democrats in tight races will somehow become a help. Embracing Obamacare would require Democrats to talk about Obamacare, but years of unsuccessful messaging reboots have proven that they have no idea how to do that in a way that moves people to like it.

The fix-it line is not a meaningful campaign to fix the health law, it's a messaging strategy designed to help struggling Democrats defend themselves in the face of an unpopular law. But Obamacare's problems are not a messaging problems. They are policy problem. And despite their desperate insistence that the law can be fixed, if you only give them one more shot, Democrats have no real policy fixes to offer.

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  1. Embattled Democratic senator Mary Landrieu, who is facing an extremely tough race in Louisiana, is taking a similar approach with her ad campaign.

    Oh, this is the one where NPR discovered that opposition to Landrieu was racist.

  2. Democrats can’t run on Obamacare. And they can’t run on repealing it. So they’ve settled on a middle ground?keep Obamacare, but fix it!

    “Law of the land, bitches!”
    “You tried to repeal it a gazillion times! Give it up!”

    — Uh, the rollout was a disaster. People are hating this thing.

    “Law of the land, bitches! So, let’s fix it

    1. The best solution is to elect a Dem in 2016.

      If a Republican gets elected, they’ll insist “law of the land” and blame him for all the problems.

      If a Dem gets elected, they’ll dismantle it piece by piece to avoid sinking.

  3. That’s a photograph she and her team chose to use for publicity? She looks like a 7th grader flubbing her debate team trial.

  4. Landrieu at least has a fix in mind?a bill she sponsored to let people with cancelled individual insurance coverage keep their plans.

    Umm, how can you keep a plan that has been cancelled? Isn’t it gone, and by definition unkeepable?

  5. Now that Peak Anxiety has passed the vast majority of Americans are finding that the ACA will have no effect on them. In November efforts to sensationalize a few malcontents won’t be worth the cost of the ads.

    1. Re: Peter Caca,

      Now that Peak Anxiety has passed the vast majority of Americans are finding that the ACA will have no effect on them

      Well, it DID have an effect on most people, including me: The limit for all Flexible Spending Accounts was capped by Obamacare at $2,500, which is a de facto tax increase. That busted my spending budget on medicine for my wife and children (both autistic) since 2013.

      But let’s leave that aside; you’re still not being honest, Caca. The employer mandate was postponed TWO times, arbitrarily, by the president, entirely for political reasons, which means Obamacare WILL affect people VERY NEGATIVELY once the mandate kicks-in – otherwise the president would have had no incentive to postpone the mandate.

      1. Why should taxpayers subsidize your elective spending?

        1. Medicine is now “elective spending”?

          Jesus you’re a slimy turd.

          1. Not to mention you’re pulling a Tony by saying NOT TAKING is GIVING. Fuck off, slaver.

        2. Why do you insist that your neighbors are your slaves?

        3. Ahh yes, the libertarian classifies earnings that are protected from payroll taxes as “subsidies.” It’s sad that your trolling really is nothing more than boilerplate prog shit. Bo at least tries to keep his contrarianism along libertarian lines.

          1. which libertarian is this now?

          2. Any favoritism in the tax code (or any departure from a flat tax) is a subsidy.

            In the end the feds are paying you for behavior they deem appropriate.

            1. NOT TAKING is not GIVING, fucktard.

              1. Well… yes if you view it from a perspective in which what you earn initially belongs to you and is not just what the government says you’re allowed to take home from it’s coffers.

    2. So that’s why the polls have turned around.

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

      Not.

      1. Polls have returned to their norms after the Peak Anxiety flash in late 2013.

        Also, the “against” numbers include progressives – who hate the private market insurer root of the ACA.

        As you know outliers on both sides get plenty resentful when they don’t get exactly what they want.

        1. Palin’s Buttplug|3.19.14 @ 12:13PM|#
          “Now that Peak Anxiety has passed the vast majority of Americans are finding that the ACA will have no effect on them”

          Yeah, shitpile, *YOU’RE* OK, so screw anybody who needs good cancer care:
          “Health law concerns for cancer centers”
          http://www.sfgate.com/default/…..329775.php
          What a slimy turd. I hope you get inoperable cancer and die a truly painful and slow death.

          1. From your link:

            Before President Barack Obama’s health care law, a cancer diagnosis could make you uninsurable. Now, insurers can’t turn away people with health problems or charge them more. Lifetime dollar limits on policies, once a financial trapdoor for cancer patients, are also banned.

            “Patients may have fewer choices of doctors and hospitals in some exchange plans than others … but the rules for such plans go a long way toward remedying the most severe problems that existed for decades,” said Steve Weiss, spokesman for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

            Insurers get to hold down costs – good for them. Face it, there is even a right-wing cancer treatment chain that emphasizes “faith” as a billable treatment.

            Cull that shit out.

            1. Yea, slimeball, now you can get insurance that won’t help.
              Fuck you.

          2. Palin’s last words:

            “8…%…”

            1. And then, we see a worker toss a copy of the AC Act into a furnace, slowly burning.

    3. +8

    4. Now that Peak Anxiety has passed the vast majority of Americans are finding that the ACA will have no effect on them.

      Because of all the numerous delays that Obama has unilaterally enacted, but you knew that. Some of those delays will end after the midterms and it won’t be pretty.

  6. But that only shows how few options the party has with regard to the law, for it amounts to little more than the continued hope that public opinion on the law will flip

    Call it The Gambler’s Fallacy, proggie style.

  7. At least Obamacare isn’t adding a dime to the deficit.

  8. Anyone who bitched about Cruz “shutting down the government” over his demand that the individual mandate be suspended like the business mandate was should be forced to right an apology note to him.

    Cruz: Suspend the mandate like you did for businesses.

    The left: RACIST!!!!! BOOOOOO!!!

    Obama: We need to suspend the mandate.

    The left: YAYYY!!! HE’S SHOWING HOW MUCH HE CARES!!!

  9. They can’t fix it so they can use the next best thing. Blame the Republicans and Koch. Call Americans liars. Obsess about Fox News. Do anything to detract.

  10. Testing.

    1. Core dumped.

  11. What you libertardians fail to realize is that our healthcare system can be fixed with just a bit more fascism.

    1. DRINK

      I think

  12. “Even if Democrats wanted to go further, what could they do?”

    Loot Crimeans.

    Really, something like that’s their only possible sol’n: Get money to subsidize everyone from people who can’t vote against you.

  13. So they’ve settled on a middle ground?keep Obamacare, but fix it!

    I have no doubt that they would like to “fix” it in to a single payer, nationalized healthcare monstrosity.

  14. Obumacare was born congenitally defective. It can not be fixed. Like being born stupid, there is no cure.

    Oh, wait…..

  15. A time-honored liberal tradition. Notice a problem, rally the mob and herd the politicians into a room to invent a solution unrelated to the problem, impose the solution with government force and massive new spending, build an empire obsessed with never solving the problem, make things infinitely worse, notice the problem, rinse and repeat.

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