Obamacare

Obamacare Is Still A Liability for Democrats

As the midterm election approaches, promises to campaign on the Affordable Care Act remain unfulfilled.

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Whitehouse.gov

Remember when Democrats were going to run on Obamacare? In March of 2010, just a few days before the final version of the law passed in the House, a triumphant White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer told The New York Times that, "if and when this is passed, Democrats will run aggressively on this." The law would be a hit, well-liked and broadly popular, and Democrats would use it to their advantage.

The law passed, but the aggressive campaign never happened. Later that year, in fact, several Democrats ran ads against the health law.

Even still, Democrats kept promising that the pro-Obamacare campaigns were soon to come. In June of 2013, Politico reported that the party's 2014 strategy would be to "own Obamacare." With the coverage expansion in place, an anonymous senior Democratic official told Politico, Democrats would no longer have to run from the law. "In 2014, Democrats can talk about the positives," the official said.

The botched launch of the exchanges last fall torpedoed hopes of a big Democratic push on Obamacare. But Democratic leadership continued to insist that party legislators were sticking by the law. "Democrats stand tall in support of the Affordable Care Act," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in November, 2013, when asked how the health law would affect the midterms.

Pelosi could still be found playing up Democratic support for the law this year. "I'm very proud of our House Democrats and how they have not only embraced the Affordable Care Act, because they helped create it, but how proud they are of it," she said in March. Obama echoed the line a month later, saying that "Democrats should forcefully defend and be proud of" the law's accomplishments.

The reality? Just 36 percent of Democrats have voiced clear support for Obamacare this year, according to a Brookings Institution analysis. That's hardly standing tall.

Others have argued that Democratic support matters less because Obamacare has receded as an issue. Relative to last fall, when Obamacare's website failures and plan cancellations dominated the news cycle, that's not wrong. But "receded" does not mean "disappeared." 

The truth is that Obamacare has been a major issue all along, and Democrats have been on the defensive. Just this year, more than 160,000 political advertisements have aired attacking Obamacare. Less than 10,000 have run in favor of the law. That's how proud Democrats really are.

Obamacare remains a political liability for Democrats for a variety of reasons, including premiums. Overall the story on premiums is complicated, with benchmark plans dropping slightly, on average, but low-cost plans rising by 14 percent. Some of the bigger hikes, however, are in states with tight Senate races—Iowa, Louisiana, and Alaska.

Hundreds of thousands of health plan cancellations are on the way this year, thanks to the law, some delayed from last year. An analysis by Senate Republican staff recently found that Obamacare would eventually raise the deficit, contrary to a key claim made by the law's supporters at passage.

And the law's Medicare cuts, which it relies on to fund part of its coverage expansion, remain controversial as well, and Democrats have tried to distance themselves. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and other Democratic candidates have attempted to claim that the law does not cut Medicare. But that's not how the law was designed (although it's likely that not all of the cuts that the law calls for will go actually into effect).

Even the coverage expansion has not helped Democrats: Some 27 percent of Americans believe the law has hurt them or their families, according to Gallup, up 19 percent since the beginning of the year, when the law's major coverage expansion provisions kicked in. A majority don't think the law has had much effect one way or the other.

Democrats cannot run on Obamacare, but most can't quite run outright campaigns against it either. Instead, they have settled on a fence-straddling approach—praising the popular elements but insisting that the law needs to be fixed.

Whitehouse.gov

Unlike Obamacare itself, the strategy has the virtue of majority public support. Polls consistently show that, given the choice to repeal, fix, or keep the law as is, about sixty percent of Americans would prefer to fix the law.

The problem for Democrats is that, despite their pledges to fix the law, they have offered little in the way of meaningful tweaks. As The Washington Examiner's Byron York noted last week, when Shaheen was asked in a debate about her ideas, she the only proposal she could name was a committee to study website problems. It was all but an admission that she had no fixes.

Somewhat more substantive is the proposal from Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) to add a lower tier of less expensive plans to the system. The basic concept of expanding the range of available products on the exchanges is not without merit, but this version would come with problems. As Ramesh Ponnuru notes, it would create a less expensive insurance product focused on covering routine expenses—exactly the kind of insurance we should want to discourage. That low-cost option, meanwhile, would attract healthy people, and could destabilize existing coverage.

In the larger scheme, though, this hardly matters. The fix-it strategy is not actually intended to fix Obamacare. It is a rhetorical ploy intended to voice support for the parts that people like while opposing the parts that people don't. It is a new take on an old line. Democrats have long noted that many parts of the law are popular, and hoped that this would eventually build public support for the law. The problem, as always, is that Obamacare's various mechanisms interlock in such a way that they cannot be easily separated. 

Republicans are finding this out too, of course, and being tripped up by it. Last week, Ohio's Republican Governor, John Kasich, argued that the Medicaid expansion funded by the law was not "really connected to Obamacare." Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell has, only slightly more plausibly, attempted to claim the same about the state's Obamacare-funded health exchange. This will increasingly become a problem for Republicans.

But right now it is mostly a problem for Democrats, who for more than four years have hoped to campaign on Obamacare and its self-evident virtues. But those virtues never materialized—and, as a result, neither have the campaigns.

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  1. If you like your Senate majority…

  2. 8 percent !

  3. Oh, you’ve really done it now, McSuderman. For saying unkind things about ObamaCare, Palin’s Buttplug is going to make you listen to the entire Emerson, Lake, and Palmer discography and, if you’re still alive after that, all of the Phil Collins oeuvre.

    Truly, on this dark day, the living will envy the dead.

    1. Hey, WTF is wrong with ELP? I will not have their memory tarnished by association with PB.

      1. “Hey, WTF is wrong with ELP?”

        Nothing that another cat wondering around on the keyboard can’t help.

  4. Because Obamacare fucking blows?

    My insurance payments are staying the same next year. Great, except the benefits are going way down. I sure miss the HMO I had when Obama was elected.

    1. Given the big hullaballoo about how awful they were when first implemented, I never thought I’d see the phrase “I miss my HMO” (or the logical equivalent) said seriously.

      1. I loved mine. Sure you had to stay in-network (not difficult with Aetna in the Northeast) and get a referral for a specialist. Beats the crap out of paying out of pocket for everything like I do now.

    2. I got higher premiums, higher deductible/out-of-pocket…and the company was sure to point out exactly why/where O!care required this.

      1. You mean the greedy overlords twisted the good and noble intent of the law and cherry-picked out-of-context snippets to justify their limitless hatred of you?

  5. Political candidates who oppose the ACA should point out that it is a reform of Health Insurance, not Health Care, and is built in such a way as to incentivise the consumption of medical services while disincentivising the provision of those services. The result will be less availability of medical services at higher (real) costs, which may manifest in the form of long wait times and fewer options to treat illness.

    The solution would be to remove government intervention from the medical services industry, but most people are too frightened of freedom for politicians to come right out and propose that.

    1. I’m not sure what politicians could say to argue against gov’t handing out free stuff. “Your life is better when you are arranging it yourself than if you allowed the bureaucrats to run/ruin it for you.” But, again, most people are too frightened of freedom to find such a statement acceptable.

      1. they could say plenty, beginning with the usual condescension of some not being “able” to run their own lives or how some will make a hash of things, etc. And think of those people’s children.

        Oh, that’s right; you’re part of that monocle-wearing child labor mining conglomerate. The children are just employee numbers.

        1. Oh, that’s right; you’re part of that monocle-wearing child labor mining conglomerate. The children are just employee numbers.

          You say that like there’s something wrong.

          My conglomerate has been mining child labor for decades. My father’s father’s father’s father started mining for child labor in West Melansquashville, NC back before the War for Independance. If we didn’t mine for child labor, where would the nation get its supply of child labor, I ask you?

          So, there.

        2. In my fantasy political landscape, I always imagine a dark horse candidate, consistently voting with Democrats, but essentially accusing his constituents of being too stupid to take care of themselves.

    2. hahaha, you must be a fan of
      single payer that will replace obamacare

      1. joshrendell|10.28.14 @ 3:48PM|#
        “hahaha, you must be a fan of
        single payer that will replace obamacare”

        hahaha, you must be an ignoramus.

      2. Ha Ha Ha
        Joshrendell laughs
        a monkey
        drowned by it’s own
        reflection

  6. True story,

    Sitting in my friends Obama Care insurance office, (FWIW, he is to the right of Rush, but has two ex wives and needs to make $$) when a customer walks in wanting to cancel her ACA plan.

    Looks her up on the computer, and she has a great plan with a good network, low co pays (so no need to pay that 5k deductible if in network) and no out of pocket cost to her with the subsidy. So he asks, why do you want to cancel?

    She tells him that before the ACA, when she felt ill and needed to visit her specialist, she went to the hospital clinic, waited to be seen and walked out without paying a dime. Now when she goes (about once a month), she has to pay $50.00 co pay for the specialist.

    Next, what my business customers cannot figure out about the law….

    1. So what’s she going to do when she feels ill, goes to her specialist and has to eat the whole cost out of pocket?

    2. So, you gleaned all that information about a stranger’s insurance polity just sitting in your friend’s “Obama Care Insurance office”. Looks like BS to me.

      1. So, you gleaned all that information about a stranger’s insurance polity…

        I thought that read “potty”, at first. Scatalogical jokes; I love ’em!

      2. I wanted to hear the rest of the story. Fiction can be entertaining.

  7. Obamacare remains a political liability for Democrats for a variety of reasons

    Good. They *own* that monstrosity — lock, stock, and barrel. Maybe some of ’em will even read it now.

  8. The problem, as always, is that Obamacare’s various mechanisms interlock in such a way that they cannot be easily separated.

    If that is true, and all evidence indicates it is, then why is Suderman always pissing and moaning about Republicans who want to just repeal it? If this statement is true, the choices are repeal, do nothing, or make things worse by only fixing parts of it and further undermining the law. The people arguing for full repeal seem to be the only ones with a sensible position here.

    1. The Supreme Court upholding that Halbig case would be a “fix” or partial repeal. So would Marco Rubio’s proposed killing of the reinsurance and risk corridors. I’d be satisfied with either of those, which would destroy O’care spectacularly.

    2. full repeal will get you single payer
      is that what you call sensible?

      1. Why would a full repeal get single payer? That makes no sense. In order to get single payer, the Dems would both have to have a 60 vote Senate Majority again and get the country to trust them to implement a major reform again. Neither is likely to happen anytime soon. And even if it did, it is even less likely that future Democrats could be convinced a vote for such a thing would result in anything but electoral disaster for them, given the results of Obamacare.

        Obamacare accomplished one positive thing, it killed the possibility of single payer happening for at least a generation. The Democrats had their once in a generation shot at it and they fucked it up. They won’t get another for a very long time. People who think otherwise are just kidding themselves.

        1. John|10.28.14 @ 4:14PM|#
          “Why would a full repeal get single payer? That makes no sense.”

          Consider the source; lefty troll.

      2. Single payer
        always pays
        Sensible?
        All shall pay.

  9. Unlike Obamacare itself, the strategy has the virtue of majority public support. Polls consistently show that, given the choice to repeal, fix, or keep the law as is, about sixty percent of Americans would prefer to fix the law.

    This is why the Republic will fail. Americans are so enrapt by the magical power of legislation to repair perceived wrongs and injustices (usually created by earlier legislation), that they not only refuse to foresee the likely negative outcomes of the legislation, but refuse to acknowledge that it was legislation that the cause of any negative outcomes because “good intentions” and “something must be done.”

    1. And we have lost the ability to admit that something has failed and just needs to go. Politics aside, Obamacare is a massive failure. It has accomplished none of the things it was created to accomplish and has created all kinds of harm and misery. The rational answer is to repeal it and try and undo the damage and then rethink our approach going forward. But our government can’t do that anymore. Doing that would require one side admitting that it was wrong. So we just endlessly send good money after bad and make bad policies permanent and usually worse.

      1. Admitting a mistake requires integrity.

      2. Failed things we should give up on:

        – Obamacare
        – War on Poverty
        – The Middle East and Afghanistan
        – Most of the Federal Government
        – Drug Prohibition
        – Detroit

        Admitting these are sunk-cost losses and acting accordingly would go a long way towards improving this country.

        1. “Quilters never win! I mean *quitters*!”

        2. It would. We have spent more money on the “war on poverty” than we have spent on all of our wars combined. No kidding.

          It drives me crazy when even people on the Right who should no better claim the country is going broke because of “empire” and “foreign wars”. Whatever the costs of those, they are a pittance compared to the cost of the social welfare state. That is what is driving the country broke and has producing nothing but harm and failure. Despite this, anyone who asks basic questions like “maybe poverty is not about money but about culture” or “maybe there is a point at which spending more money on education produces diminishing utility” are dismissed as uncaring nuts. “More leeches” is the only acceptable treatment option apparently.

          1. This may be the best rhetorical flourish evah.

            The solution to the welfare state: more leeches. I’m stealing that.

          2. “It drives me crazy when even people on the Right who should no better claim the country is going broke because of “empire” and “foreign wars”. Whatever the costs of those, they are a pittance compared to the cost of the social welfare state.”

            Meh, the cost of “foreign wars” has been pricey the last 15 years. Granted, the cost of “empire”, if you are just looking at over seas bases, aircraft carriers, rapid deployment troops, etc, isn’t as bad, but it’s still expensive.

            Certainly the cost of SS, Medicaid & Medicare are even larger and need to be cut. But drastically overspending on those doesn’t imply that we aren’t overspending on the military.

            And honestly, most Americans, if given a poor choice between spending $100 billion on Afghanistan vs spending $100 billion on Medicare, will choose to drop the money locally.

            1. The entire Iraq war under Bush cost less than the Obama Stimulus. Go look it up.

              And while Americans would make that choice, it would be a dumb one. Wars, whatever their costs, end at some point. Social programs never end and their costs always grow exponentially. Worse still, the Iraq war directly affected at most 1% of the population. The war on poverty in contrast destroyed the culture of a good portion of our society and left them dependent and helpless. Our education establishment has spent trillions and left generations of poor kids illiterate for their efforts.

              Social programs are not “dropping the money locally”. They are effectively making war on ourselves. It would have been less damaging to bomb our cities than inflict socialism on them. If you don’t believe me, compare Baghdad to Detroit.

              1. To paraphrase Henry George, “What protectionism social welfare spending teaches us is to do to ourselves in time of peace what enemies seek to do to us in time of war.” It’s like a nationwide occupation in the form of bureaucrats lead by Washington to remake the American polity after the image of serfdom.

          3. What nearly everybody doesn’t understand is that Welfare and Warfare are CONNECTED – the are complementary to each other, not contrary. Just like any “vector” the government/state enters into, the use of expeditionary Force might BEGIN is trying to keep trading lanes open, but soon it resorts to the boilerplate of empire. Instead of using limited Force for the good of trade, it uses massive amounts of Force for control the world to get access to resources at less than market rates. When a nation makes promises to its people greater than the GDP can fulfill, Force is used against others for resources and access to their treasuries. This should be manifestly obvious to everyone as we have slid into full blown fascism the last 15-20 years. Of course the formula has been applied for much, much longer, but at this point it’s painfully clear.

          4. What nearly everybody doesn’t understand is that Welfare and Warfare are CONNECTED – the are complementary to each other, not contrary. Just like any “vector” the government/state enters into, the use of expeditionary Force might BEGIN is trying to keep trading lanes open, but soon it resorts to the boilerplate of empire. Instead of using limited Force for the good of trade, it uses massive amounts of Force for control the world to get access to resources at less than market rates. When a nation makes promises to its people greater than the GDP can fulfill, Force is used against others for resources and access to their treasuries. This should be manifestly obvious to everyone as we have slid into full blown fascism the last 15-20 years. Of course the formula has been applied for much, much longer, but at this point it’s painfully clear.

      3. It has accomplished none of the things it was created to accomplish and has created all kinds of harm and misery.

        the two clauses in this sentence are at odds. I submit the latter is the whole point of O-care, and that harm and misery are precisely the intent.

        1. That is the cynical view but it doesn’t matter even if it were true because it is not like they can admit that. The creators of this bill have to live by the publicly stated reasons for creating it. And it has by any objective measure failed completely in that task.

          1. you act as if Obama gives a shit about living with anything. The publicly-stated reasons for this are like the reasons for everything else – political gain.

            It may seem cynical but at some point you have to give up the pretense of judging Obama by the same political calculus. By empirical sane standards, of course, it has failed. But that’s now Obama’s measuring stick.

            1. Obama doesn’t count. Who counts are the other Democrats who are going to be left to clean up the mess.

              1. They won’t clean up shit. The taxpayers will, someday.

                  1. A new Monetary scheme will replace the old monetary scheme.

    2. sixty percent of Americans would prefer to fix the law.

      How many of that sixty percent have *any* idea about what’s involved beyond “fix the law”?

      1. ^^THIS^^. The people saying that are just saying “yes I won’t this thing fixed and for things to get better”. They have absolutely no idea how that should be done and are not necessarily even rejecting repeal. If they knew that repealing it is the only way to fix it, they would support repeal.

        That result is people trying to look reasonable. The media, including Suderman, has done a very good job of convincing people that only crazies who hate Obama want to repeal this. Yet, people also know the thing is a disaster. So they say they want it fixed because they know it doesn’t work but don’t want to be seen as a crazy who just hats Obama.

        1. Politicians are evil because they won’t pass a law to make all the bad things go away and all the good things to be free for everybody.

      2. Probably none. I’m involved with my company’s health insurance. Our brokers, charged with understanding the law, don’t understand how all the pieces fit together. It’s a huge complicated clusterfuck. If you say “fix it”, you almost certainly know nothing about what that actually means.

        1. The clowns who wrote it don’t understand it.

          1. I sat through a webinar where one subject was defining the number of employees. simple, right ?

            What about a growing company that adds employees during the year ?
            Seasonal employees ?
            Permanent part-time ?
            Turnover: open positions that you intend to re-fill.
            We always hear about the 50 employee threshold for a small company, but other parts of the law have a 100 or 200 person threshold.

            So….how do you “fix” that.

            1. It was written in the middle of the night by a bunch of idiot staffers who knew nothing about healthcare and were willing to put in any language necessary to get it passed. It is politics aside by any objective measure to worst drafted piece of major legislation in history. Everyone associated with it, including those in the media who acted as PR operatives for it, should be ashamed and embarrassed. Of course none of them are since that would require a sense of shame.

              1. john, john, john. No, a thousand times no, this was not bad policy or bad strategy in the normal sense of those terms. A clusterfuck was the goal because, absent one, the liberal pipe dream of single-payer would NEVER happen. Bringing down the system from the inside is a viable strategy; it’s just one usually reserved for evil people, which this president is.

              2. written by idiots who’ve never had to meet a shipping deadline or make a payroll. people i wouldn’t trust to supervise third shift in a paper cup factory. but the sheepskin on the wall says they are smart, so they gonna tell us how to run a business.

                yeah, it kinda pisses me off.

      3. How many of that sixty percent have *any* idea about what’s involved beyond “fix the law”?

        Quoth the Iron Law:

        The less you know about something, the easier it looks.

        1. pithier, i admit

    3. something must be done because
      otherwise you’ll have single payer
      by default

      1. A turd polished
        is a turd flushed
        One turd to rule them all
        And one to follow

  10. I just completed my annual enrollment, and the premiums are up another $25 per paycheck (the big jump was last year), and the max out-of-pocket has soared.

    Just not seeing the $2500 per year savings…

    Thanks, gov’t.

    1. The Teapublican’s stole your $2,500 in savings …. and now they want to repeal your healthcare. /derp

      Seriously, the Media distortion field around Obamacare equates healthcare not going up as fast during a recession as equivalent to Obamacare is ‘working’. Even though the slower growth in costs kicked in before the law was in affect.

      The facts don’t matter, it’s all about the Spin.

    2. Hayeksplosives

      That right there is a fucking solid gold handle. You clever bastard.

  11. The trick for Republicans (and libertarians) is to come up with a “fix” for Obamacare that in effect repeals it and replaces it with a series of free-market reforms.

    1. (1) ObamaCare is hereby repealed in its entirety, all funding for ObamaCare is hereby unauthorized, anyone spending funds on ObamaCare is guilty of a felony, and all regulations adopted by ObamaCare are hereby repealed.

      (2) All state laws requiring a Certificate of Need for healthcare facilities are repealed as infringements on interstate commerce.

      (3) No state may refuse to honor a medical or insurance license issued by another state, in the absence of a showing of material risk to the residents of that state.

      That ought to get us going.

      1. (3) No state may refuse to honor a medical or insurance license issued by another state, in the absence of a showing of material risk to the residents of that state.

        Which, by the way, WOULD THE ONE FUCKING LEGITIMATE USE OF THE GODDAMNED COMMERCE CLAUSE.

      2. I’m with you on 2 and 3, but 1 is problematic. Some sort of “if you like your Obamacare you can keep your Obamacare” mechanism might be needed to smooth the transition and deflate criticism.

        Also: lowering insurance minimum coverage mandates, allowing nurses and pharmacists to do more, reining in the trial lawyers and the FDA, and cutting back HIPAA to allow the sort of tech innovation that Apple and Google could do if allowed.

        The whole pitch would be to make health care cheaper, which is a very different thing (and message) from getting everyone health insurance.

    2. hey, airhead, the fee market
      is what we had before obamacare
      the stupid with you people is amazing

      1. Threadwinner right here.

      2. hey, airhead, the fee market
        is what we had before obamacare

        No we didn’t.

      3. Control control control
        ghost
        a turd past
        screaming
        a dead turd

        1. You’re ON FIRE!

  12. “Fix don’t repeal” reminds me of people who wanted to “Preserve don’t move” the Cape Hatteras lighthouse a few years back, ignoring that the location they wanted to preserve was only built because the original site was 200 yards offshore because of shifting sand. That’s wilful level ignorance.

    1. Global warming! Proof!

      1. Some might consider it proof that permanent structures on barrier islands made entirely of sand are a bad idea, but who cares when you’ve got federal flood insurance?

  13. It’s only a liability because ObamaCare and the Democrats are too beautiful for this mean, ugly country that’s too dumb to know how great ObamaCare is (or it knows how great OCare is and that’s why we hate it).

    1. Don’t forget Republican sabotage! They never wanted Obama to succeed!

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    ???????? http://www.paygazette.com

  15. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go? to tech tab for work detail

    ———————- http://www.jobs700.com

  16. Can you have some spare time to sit back in your chair having your laptop with you and making some money online for some interesting online work said Jenny Francis in the party last nightsee more what is for you there to increase your pocket money??.

    http://shorx.com/clickforsurvey

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