Thursday, April 10, 2014

We won Obamacare war, but GOP won't concede

New York Magazine columnist Frank Rich. (photo: NY Magazine)
New York Magazine columnist Frank Rich. (photo: NY Magazine)

By Frank Rich, New York Magazine
08 April 14

ix months ago, the Obamacare insurance exchanges began their official rollout with a government shutdown and a protracted website failure. Yesterday, the president announced that the Affordable Care Act's open-enrollment period had exceeded its goals, with at least 7.1 million Americans signing up.

Obamacare has been the single most divisive issue in American politics since it was signed into law in March 2010. Is that period coming to an end? And has the president won?

It will not stop being a political issue until the end of the midterms, of course, because the Republicans have no other issue to run on this year — and Obamacare-bashing, like Obama-bashing in general, revs up its base. And the GOP will do well in the midterms, too — not because of the Affordable Care Act, per se, but because the Republican base (white, male, old) turns up in off-year elections and much of the Democratic base (the new America that is inexorably supplanting the GOP base) hibernates until presidential election years.

After the midterms, Obamacare will be vastly diminished as a political issue except on the hard right, which, after all, still doesn’t like that government “health-care takeover” called Medicare either. (The new Paul Ryan budget released this week, among its other indignities, calls for replacing Medicare with a voucher system that would destroy it.)

Even now the ACA isn’t wildly unpopular — the country is split 49/48 in its favor according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll — and it will gain in popularity as it takes root among those Americans who needed it and now have it. In that important sense — as policy, not politics — the president may well have won, though we won’t know for sure for several years.

Meanwhile, it’s fascinating to see how those on the right are trying to deal with defeat by yet again trying to dispute hard statistics — claiming that the 7.1 million enrollment number is a fraud. (Actually, the real number is higher, maybe as high as 10 million in some estimates, because some who signed up for Obamacare did so directly through insurers, not through the often-troubled government exchanges.)

Fox News even ran a graphic that used an outdated figure for enrollments, and visually portrayed the sign-up rate (in a bar chart) as about one-third of what it actually was. This is the same kind of magical thinking that made conservative pundits attack Nate Silver during the 2012 election and talk themselves into believing that Romney was going to win.

We can only hope that Karl Rove will have another breakdown on television when he faces the reality that Obamacare has won over a significant segment of the electorate just as surely as Obama took Ohio on Election Night.

1 comment:

joe said...

The headline of this article explains the problem with you and those fools in Washington.

Our elected officials are there to promote a free and great country, as the Constitution set forth.
But, no these Washington fools feel this is one up campaign, Gee Ma look I won" Not "Gee Ma look I did something good for this country"
And its fools as yourself that cheer them on.