Saturday, April 19, 2014


No, Republicans aren't going to move on, obviously:
When President Obama announced on Thursday that eight million Americans have now enrolled for insurance under the health-care law's exchanges, he delivered this message to Republicans: It's time to move on from the five-year Health Care War. And Republicans immediately responded with their own message -- no. "The president says that Republicans have not accepted Obamacare as settled law. He is right. Republicans cannot and will not accept this law," said House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in a statement.
So anti-Obamacare absolutism is still the GOP electoral strategy. A couple of days ago, Brian York wrote that voters in this year's midterms will pass judgment on Obamacare based on whether they're benefiting from it or not:
When it comes to the politics of Obamacare, there's really only one question that matters: How many Americans are benefiting from the new health care system, and how many are hurting?

... So who has, in fact, been harmed by Obamacare? The first question, of course, is what "harmed" means. But let's define it as anyone who faces higher premiums, or higher deductibles -- adding up to a total higher cost — and/or a narrower choice of hospitals, doctors and prescription drugs than they had before. For them, health care is a more expensive and troublesome proposition than it was before Obamacare....

We know more about Obamacare's beneficiaries. First there are the three million or four million low-income people added to the Medicaid rolls....

Then there are the people who receive federal subsidies to buy health coverage through Obamacare's exchanges....

Add to that young people who are now remaining on their parents' coverage until age 26, the ... people who were in the past denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition, and others who in some way have a better deal under the new system, and you have the universe of Obamacare's beneficiaries.

How does that compare to the number of people who have gotten a bad deal from Obamacare? It's impossible to know right now, and that makes it impossible to make much of a political calculation.

... Will people who pay more, or who get less, or both, take their Obamacare unhappiness out against Democrats this November? Some surely will. But how many, and how strongly motivated they will be, will probably remain unknown until after the polls have closed....
But I don't believe that Republicans are trying to marshal an army of people genuinely or seemingly harmed by Obamacare to win the midterms and the 2016 elections. I think they're doing what they usually do, which is to rally a white, economically comfortable, suburban/exurban voter base against supposed outrages from which they aren't personally suffering.

The GOP standard operating procedure is to get people in zero-crime suburbs worked up about urban gangbangers, to get people in 99% white Christian neighborhoods infuriated about imminent sharia law or the War on Christmas, to get people who live under all-GOP governments angry about ACORN and Democratic voter fraud. The outrages don't have to be happening at all, or may be happening in highly isolated locations or even in other countries (Free Republic is full of stories about "creeping sharia" that inevitably turn out to be from the U.K. or Continental Europe). The fact that the angry base can't actually reality-test the stories actually works to the GOP's advantage -- the base trusts the right-wing media so much that any story demonizing liberals and Democrats is automatically assumed to be true, especially when the truth of the story is unknowable.

So tossed-off allegations like this are assumed to be true:
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) said Monday he believes the uninsured rate in his state has increased since implementation of the 2010 health care reform law.

"It's hard to get accurate numbers on anything," Huelskamp told his constituents at a town hall in Salina, Kan....
Hell, why not say that? It fits with the GOP's general "cooking the books" meme on Obamacare enrollment numbers.

Meanwhile, Joan Walsh notes that House majority whip Kevin McCarthy has introduced a nasty new yardstick for measuring the success of the health care law:
McCarthy ... lists five new metrics for measuring success, including how many enrollees have actually paid, and how many didn't have insurance before. Those are old talking points, but ... McCarthy also tacks on an ugly parenthetical, asking "how many received a subsidy (raising concerns about fraud)." Brian Beutler at the New Republic calls this an effort to "welfarize Obamacare," to stigmatize it and also make it subject to the same hysteria about "fraud" that conservatives use to smear other social programs.
See? There doesn't actually have to be any fraud. The base will just be outraged at the fraud that surely must be happening!

So, yeah, Republicans are going to keep fighting the evils of Obamacare -- regardless of whether those evils exist. For the party's base, they're just going to continue to create a reality.


aimai said...

If internet trolls and commenters at local newspaper coverage are any proof this kind of obfuscation is working. The kooky "some haven't paid" yet has morphed into "none of them have paid yet." The argument that "some get subsidies" will morph into "all subsidies are fraudulent."

Victor said...


'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

'Beware the ObamacareTalk, my son!
The shark-like jaws that bite, the vulture claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!'

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood a while in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The ObamacareTALK, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One two! One two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back to Congress.

'And hast thou slain the ObamacareTalk?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
They chortled in their joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Yastreblyansky said...

Can this work as well all those race-tainted tactics? I'd think a lot of white suburbanites have relatives and neighbors who are freelancers and layoff victims, getting subsidized Exchange policies or expanded Medicaid. Not to mention their own kids.

Unknown said...

what is the relation between corporate and politics???

aimai said...

I agree with Yastreblyansky. In the long run this can't work. Its one thing to tell people something about a distant group-sure they are all moochers and cannibals in Detroit/urban area/somewhere else.

Its quite another to attempt to describe a reality that people you are talking to are actually living. Telling people "nobody has paid their premiums" to a group that has just paid their premiums is a recipe for disaster. When you start telling people stuff that simply runs counter to their lived experience you run the risk of losing them entirely on other issues on which you have, previously, been trusted.

More than that: if you are demonizing people who are in your base you can expect some hurt feelings and some pushback. Susan Collins is already having to hedge her anti Obamacare talks with "I'm sure some people were helped" etc..etc..etc.. Why? Because its a really small population up in Maine and everyone knows someone who is being helped by Obamacare. You can have lots of attacks on it, sure. But some of the best GOP lines just don't make sense to people who are actually accesing Obamacare themselves.

Steve M. said...

In response to that, I'll cite the Atrios post in which he quotes Craig T. Nelson: "I've been on food stamps and welfare, did anybody help me out? No." As Atrios says:

One can never be quite sure how much conservatives believe their own bullshit, but my longstanding theory is that they believe there's some secret super generous welfare system that only black people have access to. When they had hard times, got their government handouts, their government handouts sucked. But the blahs are out there buying their t-bones and driving their cadillacs, so they must be getting the really good welfare. Nobody helped poor Craig out, because the food stamps and and welfare sucked.

Ken_L said...

I think this was a clever bit of briar patch politicking by Obama. "Whatever you do, please don't keep talking about the ACA!"

The Obamacare election was in 2012. Hardly anybody who voted Democrat then is going to be changing their vote this time around on account of Republican ranting, and there's a good chance some independents will be turned off by what they see as an obsession that's no longer relevant.

aimai said...

Sure, agreed on the Atrios Quote and the Craig T. Nelson thing but the difference here, and there is a difference, is that the ACA is something that people are going to be on continuously, for the rest of their lives. I'm sure right wingers will continue to believe that somewhere else black people are getting the "good ACA" or "not paying enough in premiums--and the complexity of the system and the regionality of the costs will help them continue to believe that. Nevertheless when your congressman talks about repealling the ACA on a national level he's taking aim directly at you and your benefits. In that way the ACA is going to be more like Medicare and you know that although repbulican voters don't like to admit that its a government program they will fight to the death for it.