Tag Archives: Democratic

Memo to Democrats: Embrace Obamacare

Although it is only March, the post mortem has already been written for the Democratic performance in November’s term elections.  CNN’s John King said the situation is “bleaker than bleak.”  A Democratic strategist said the numbers portend a “tsunami sized loss” for the party.  Whichever party controls the White House usually does poorly in off year elections and this president approval rating is at an all time low.  Having said all of that, things can get better for the party and embracing Obamacare may be the way to do that.

Thus far, the GOP strategy on the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare has been pretty effective and was helped by the disastrous rollout last fall.  When David Jolly defeated Alex Sink in this month’s special election, the GOP claimed this was because the anti-Obamacare message works.  The Democrats have been trying to spin this as not a loss but a near win as Sink got so close in a swing district that been held by a Republican for more than four decades.  Both sides are partially correct.

First of all, voter turnout won the day in Florida.  This was a special election in an off year and fewer people vote in these types of elections.  Moreover, the people who tend to show up at the polls are older, whiter and more conservative.  Also, anger is a big motivator for most people.  So, yes, running against Obamacare helped the GOP here because it got more people to the polls.  And yes, their message works in places like this because it is simple: you don’t like Obamacare and neither do we, vote for us.

The takeaways from this are pretty clear and the Democrats can turn this around if they really want to.

Own Obamacare.  Running away from the health care law helps no one.  So far the GOP has won on this issue because supporters of the law have let opponents define it and set the rules for how we talk about it.  This has to stop.  The trick is to start talking up the law NOW.  The best time to talk about the benefits of Obamacare is not during a campaign or on a 30 second ad, people need to hear about how it helps them NOW.

Obamacare will be more popular in the fall.  The law is very unpopular now.  A recent USA Today/Pew Research Center poll put its approval rating at 42 percent.  Having said that, Gallup did a poll earlier this year that showed that 56 percent of uninsured Americans plan to use a government exchange to get coverage.  So far, five million people have enrolled through the plan.  As more people use (and like) the new system and as memory of the horrible rollout fades (it will have been over a year since implementation), people’s anger will dissipate.  One reason the GOP was so opposed to implementing the law was that once it is in place, it will be impossible to repeal.

Obamacare will not end our way of life.  The GOP is fond of saying that this is going to end our freedom.  Well, they said the same thing of Medicare.  Ronald Reagan once said, of the now popular program, “We are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.”  That didn’t work out that way and neither will this.

Obamacare is not socialism.  If anything, it is forced capitalism as it mandates people buy something from a private company.  The idea of the individual mandate came from the Heritage Foundation.  This is from their 1989 report:

Mandate all households to obtain adequate insurance. Many states now require passengers in automobiles to wear seatbelts for their own protection. Many others require anybody driving a car to have liability insurance. But neither the federal government nor any state requires all households to protect themselves from the potentially catastrophic costs of a serious accident or illness. Under the Heritage plan, there would be such a requirement. This mandate is based on two important principles. First, that health care protection is a responsibility of individuals, not businesses. Thus to the extent that anybody should be required to provide coverage to a family, the household mandate assumes that it is the family that carries the first responsibility. Second, it assumes that there is an implicit contract between households and society, based on the notion that health insurance is not like other forms of insurance protection. If a young man wrecks his Pors c he and has not had the foresight to obtain insurance, we may commiserate but society feels no obligation to repair his car. But health care is different. If a man is struck down by a heart attack in the street, Americans will care for him whether or not h e has insurance. If we find that he has spent his money on other things rather than insurance, we may be angry but we will not deny him services – even if that means more prudent citizens end up paying the tab. A mandate on individuals recognizes this impl i cit contract. Society does feel a moral obligation to insure that its citizens do not suffer from the unavailability of health care. But on the other hand, each household has the obligation, to the extent it is able, to avoid placing demands on society by protecting itself.

Obamacare is not a “job killer” nor will it “discourage work.”  This are common themes among opponents of the law.  Congressman Paul Ryan told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that Obamacare will discourage people from finding jobs and there are too many quotes from his party about how it will hurt the US economy and job creation.  None of that is true.  In 2011, the Rand corporation did a study on the impact of health insurance on job creation.  They found the high cost of health insurance is a deterrent to entrepreneurship and small business creation: people stay in jobs rather than strike out on their own to keep employer offered coverage.

Obamacare is not perfect but it is a real step forward.  Our businesses have long been hurt by the requirement that they provide health insurance and have to compete globally against companies who do not.  Our citizens have been hurt by a system that is costly and ineffective. Some 45,000 people die each year in the United States because they lack access to health care.  It’s time for Democrats to stop running from the president’s signature law and start embracing it.

 

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The Ryan budget

Congressman Paul Ryan (R,Wisconsin)

Congressman Paul Ryan (R,Wisconsin) (Photo credit: Tobyotter)

The House of Representatives voted this morning on Congressman Paul Ryan‘s budget proposal.  It passed by a vote of 221 to 207.  The 221 yeahs were all Republican, 197 Democrats and 10 Republicans voted no.   You can read the official vote count here.  Read more about the actual legislation here.

You can read my full piece on that here.

What I would like to see from the GOP (and the Democrats, too)

From the New Yorker

I am a Democrat (not a DINO, I have been working for Democratic campaigns since I was eight) but I  honestly like the idea of having two rational parties.  It behooves us all because we have real issues to tackle; the fiscal cliff, an increasingly unstable world, the Mets.

We need our leaders from both parties to start acting like adults and start working with each other.  We all need to stop demogoguing people who have different views from us.

In that spirit, I have some suggestions for the Republican Party:

1.  Stop proclaiming that compromise is horrible; it’s what made our country possible.  And special note to people like Congressman Ron Paul, we cannot fix problems of the past but we can try to deal with what’s going on now (he said recently that we have “already gone over the cliff” and warned against compromise).  Note to Speaker John Boehner: Thank you for showing some willingness to work with the White House.  I think you are reasonable but you cannot expect to please every member of your caucus if you want to get enough Democrats on board.)

2.  Vet your candidates better!  Seriously, listen to Stephen Colbert — anytime any of them want to talk about rape (unless it’s about stopping it) they should follow the advice and stab themselves in the eye with a pencil.   I say this not just because I know women can get pregnant from rape or that I don’t think a baby conceived this way is a “gift from God.”  It’s because these comments shift the focus from things that matter to things that don’t.

3.  Vet your surrogates better!  The ridiculous caricature that is Donald Trump has no place in the public discourse.  And concocting conspiracy theories to demonize the president makes reasonable people think you are anything but and then even if you have cogent points on other issues; we don’t notice because we’re too astounded by your claims that President Obama is a Kenyan born, Marxist, wanna-be-Hitler whose presidency has ushered in the end of days from the bible.

4. Remember that our Constitution was written to protect our rights from the government, not restrict them.  When you continue to oppose same sex marriage and try to demonize the LGBT community you show just how on the wrong side of history you are on.  A friend of mine calls this the civil rights issue of our time.  It is.  I cannot wait until everyone has the same rights and we can stop talking about this and get back to dealing with real issues.

5.  Try to remember, this is 2012, not 1955.

The part of me that writes satire and comedy loved the circus that was Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann et al (if Jon Huntsman had been nominated, and he was more conservative that the rest of them, you would have had a better chance) but the part of me that cares about the country was deeply saddened by the missed opportunity to get people thinking about real solutions to our problems.

I don’t think the Democrats are blameless.  I hate negative political ads and our side ran a ton.  They make everyone jaded about a process that should excite and inspire people.  Politics is also supposed to be “the art of the possible.”

Lest you think I only think Republicans field bad candidates remember, I refer you to– John Edwards, Elliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner.  Neither side is perfect but that doesn’t mean they are evil either.