GOP Anti-Obamacare Strategy at an End? Not a Chance
Around the State
We're being told Republicans are backing off their anti-Obamacare media buys. And you know what? To some degree, they are.
But gleeful as this news is to liberals large and small, the retreat is not as they portray it -- the result of Americans falling for the Affordable Care Act like lovesick puppies.
Last week in a Bloomberg News story, "Obamacare Losing Power as Campaign Weapon in Ad Battles," reporter Heidi Przybyla theorized that so many Americans are “benefiting from the law,” political ads knocking it are simply not doing the job anymore. Greg Sargent at the Washington Post followed the story, claiming Obamacare is "disappearing" as a major issue; New York Times' columnist Paul Krugman mopped up, insisting the attacks were always based on lies and now everybody knows "Obamacare is working."
Perish the thought, folks. It's all poppycock. Obamacare really is the seismic waves rumbling beneath our feet. Let's look:
As David Harsanyi noted in a column on thefederalist.com, while Republicans are booking fewer Obamacare attack ads, it seems a little odd to jump to Przybyla's, Sargent's and Krugman's conclusions. Not that long ago a Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that only 15 percent of Americans believe Obamacare has directly helped them, while 28 percent say it has directly hurt them. Fifty-six percent say it hasn't had any effect on their lives.
In her story, one of Przybyla's main arguments is that those seeking to unseat the Democratic U.S. Senate incumbent in North Carolina have cut their top-issue Obamacare attack ads in half. She calls it "a sign that the party’s favorite attack against Democrats is losing its punch.”
Well, yes, but that still leaves a quarter of all ads aimed at dislodging Sen. Kay Hagan about Obamacare. A quarter. Ask yourself, is there any other law in the United States that eats up more political space? (It's a rhetorical question. Google it for yourself. The answer is no.)
And buried in new New York Times/Kaiser polling on four Southern Senate races is this question: “Is it possible you would ever vote for a candidate who does not share your views on the 2010 health care law, or is this issue so important that you would not vote for a candidate who disagrees with you?”
North Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas and Kentucky majorities said they would not. Ads or no ads, major issue? Yes. Is any candidate in America running on his/her support of Obamacare? I haven't heard of a single one.
Another reason why the Republican focus on Obamacare isn't done is because the law is far from fully implemented. In her very own story Przybyla tells us that GOP groups have plans to re-focus on ACA as soon as premium increases for 2015 are announced. Many employer requirements will occur after the midterm elections. The insurance company safety net will end in a few more years.
Remember, Obamacare was careful to roll out the "good stuff" early and let the hammer fall later. Voters aren't stupid, most of them know this. The ones who don't are learning fast -- dare I say it?-- through political advertising.
The point is, just because Obamacare is experiencing a lull -- a break in the action -- doesn't mean all's well on the western front for this slippery law.
And if you’ve heard about the Obamacare retreat before, it’s because it’s nothing new. Politico led the way with a story in 2013, “GOP quietly backing away from Obamacare.” You can find similar predictions of the pending surrender on ACA online. They go back years. Yet, here we are.
Now we learn Obamacare is increasing the cost of providing health insurance to workers, according to a report released last Monday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
A majority of businesses surveyed by the New York Fed expect Obamacare to increase the cost of their coverage, and the median respondent estimates a boost by 10 percent in 2015. The report is based on two separate surveys of service and manufacturing companies. A majority of companies cited Obamacare as the driving force behind the increases.
According to a story in the Daily Caller, that means for New York state, much of northern New Jersey, part of Connecticut, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, businesses, workers and customers are all going to be hit by increased costs due to the health-care law.
This is why the anti-Obamacare argument remains so potent. The law affects jobs and it affects the economy, the bread-and-butter issues for American voters.
Just because Republicans are opting to expand their attacks beyond the ACA -- to include, for instance, immigration and energy -- don't think for a minute the electricity has gone out on Obamacare in the 2014 election campaign. Not in Florida or any other state in this nation.
Reach Nancy Smith at email@example.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith