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The Republican Party, which should have the wind at its back, enters 2014 in disarray bordering on open warfare.
That is how the Pulitzer Prize winner begins this column in today's Washington Post

The "should" can be derived from the recent CNN poll showing a 5 point preference for a generic Republican over a generic Democrat for Congress, at 49-44, a significant turn-around in the last few months, fueled largely by the bumpy roll-out of the Affordable Care Act's sign-up provisions (which I might note has been exacerbated both by how the press has covered it and by the administration's somewhat ham-handed responses).

He cautions that this far out such polls, representing a 13 point swing from the 50-42 Democratic advantage a while back, are not determinative of what WILL happen, but can be a real indicator of an opportunity for the party leading in the poll.

But as Robinson notes, there is a key problem that prevents Republicans from truly taken advantage of the situation, which is:

If only the GOP had a message.
Please keep reading.

The problem can be stated fairly succinctly:  while almost all Republicans oppose ACA, they are have strong disagreement on what to do about it.

And those internecine battles have the potential to be truly divisive. Or as Robinson, with his gift for words, puts it:  

For Republicans — to invert a classic George W. Bush bon mot — Obamacare has somehow become a divider, not a uniter. In a year when the GOP may have a legitimate chance of capturing the Senate, several primary contests appear likely to devolve into bloody battles over Obama’s health-care reforms — not whether to oppose them, but how.
He gives the example of Georgia, when very conservative Republican Representative Jack Kingston, who has vote many times to defund "Obamacare," suggested that might not be responsible to simply step back and let the health care law fail on its own he was severely savaged by his primary opponents.   Here I might note that the Tea Party types seem determined to keep going down the paths that have cost the Republicans severely in previous elections - defunding Obamacare, shutting down the government either by blocking debt limit increases (still on the table) or refusing a reasonable Continuing Resolution to fund the government (off the table for now with the agreement negotiated by Ryan and Murray).  While some of he battles have been postponed until after the deadline to file for primaries in some states to avoid generating more extreme primary opponents, the danger has not gone away, and in states like Georgia the possibility of someone very extreme getting the nomination fuels some optimism by Democrats of taking back that Senate seat, especially given the Democratic nominee is almost certainly going to be the highly regarded daughter of former Democratic Senator Sam Nunn.

Of course, it is not just on healthcare that we can see the divide:  

On a range of issues, this is the party’s essential dilemma. Ideologues want to continue the practice of massive, uncompromising resistance to anything Obama tries to accomplish. Pragmatists want the GOP to demonstrate that it can be reasonable and trustworthy, on the theory that voters want their government to function well and won’t put a bunch of anti-government extremists in charge of running it.
But somehow those on the extreme right have forgotten how poorly candidates like Ken Buck, Richard Mourdock, Todd Akins, Christine O'Donnell, and Sharron Angle have done in the past two Senate elections, which is why the Democrats remain in control.  
The question of how the GOP should proceed really should be a no-brainer. But after cynically taking advantage of the huge jolt of energy provided by tea party activists, the Republican establishment is finding that these true believers don’t necessarily listen when they’re told to go sit in a corner and shut up.
  Especially when the likes of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are fomenting those true believers as a means of generating support for their own ambitions for the Presidency.

Robinson observes the recent pronouncements by the U. S. Chamber of Commerce that it wants "no loser candidates" running for the Senate.  When they say their mantra is "no losers on our ticket" he offer sthis brief rejoinder to end his column:

Wanna bet?
I truly hope the Republicans make ACA an issue - by election time the positive effects will be evident, and absent a unified Republican alternative that maintain some of the benefits people are already receiving - no pre-existing conditions, kids staying on parents' policies until 26 - Republicans will be seen as trying to take away a benefit that increasing numbers of people are valuing.

It would of course help were the coverage by the main stream media not so histrionic, not so determined to see more of a crisis than exists, more willing to discuss the benefits now being received by people who previously could not afford health care coverage.  Perhaps we are seeing some of that.  And in some states the results are truly problematic for Republicans, for example, in Kentucky, where Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell faces a real dilemma of a strong primary opponent to his right and should he survive a centrist Democrat in Alison Lundergarn Grimes.  

No losers on the Republican ticket?

I think I agree with Robinson:

Wanna bet?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (109+ / 0-)

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 03:49:52 AM PST

  •  They have met the enemy and they is them (28+ / 0-)

    to paraphrase Pogo...

    The test will be another Debt ceiling cliff crisis.

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 04:17:50 AM PST

  •  But But But......the Dems are in disarray.......I (9+ / 0-)

    heard it on Fox Nooz.

  •  the ACA WILL cost the Dems votes in 2014 races (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk, lcrp

    The ACA will cost the Dems votes in 2014, even after we get beyond the negligently poor roll out (after a 3 1/2 year head start to plan and implement).

    Here's why:

    For voters and families whose health care costs in 2014 are higher, more expensive than in years past, why should they vote for Democrats for Senate and House?  Why?  

    I have yet to hear a persuasive argument on that.

    When government action (here the ACA) costs voters more money, voters do not typically reward the party that cost them the extra money with their votes.  Indeed, they may now be motivated to get out and vote (rather than stay home in an off-year election), but for the other party (here the GOP).

    Some will be paying more because in their states the GOP governors have put up roadblocks, or Medicaid has not been expanded and they do not get any subsidies, or in their part of the country they need to rely on the federal web site and have fewer option plans (less competition means they pay higher prices).

    Some will be paying more because their crappy but cheap plans are no longer offered.

    Maybe their plans were cancelled (despite Obama's celebrated "if-you-like-your-plan-you-can-keep-it" misstatement).  Despite the Administration's band-aid fix that depends on other parties to go along with any reinstatement of such cancelled plans (the state's GOP insurance commissioner for example), many of those cancelled plans are not being reinstated.   Senator Harry Reid is blocking a vote on Senator Landrieu's fix that could be a win win for Democrats.

    The New York Times identified many in the 50 -65 year age group making $50,000 income or more annually who are paying much more for health care after the ACA than before.

    Finally we have the people paying more for health care in 2014 even though their increased costs have nothing to do with the ACA.  [Health care costs almost always increase year to year, and have done so for decades.]  Doesn't matter if there is no causal connection between their higher costs and the ACA.  If those voters THINK the reason they are paying more is because of the ACA - and the GOP and outside groups will be running ads to reinforce that belief - those voters will not be inclined to vote for Democrats.  They will likely be voting for Republicans.

    All of the above groups of voters are paying more in 2014 for health care than they were before the roll out of the ACA.

    We do not get our own set of facts.  We should not be in denial.  We should not be drinking our own bathwater.

    Fact is that many voters WILL be paying more in 2014 for health care.  

    Why does anyone think those voters will reward the Democrats with their votes?   I don't.  

    I assume many of them who vote will vote for the Republicans for House and Senate, not because the Republicans will be offering any coherent alternative health care plan or any plan to reduce that family's health care costs.  They will be voting for the Republicans because it was the Democrats (in those voters' minds) who cost them more money, not the Republicans.

    I fear that generic GOP poll advantage over the Dems for Congress is not a temporary blip.  I fear the ACA will be a net anchor for Democrats running for House and Senate in 2014, becoming less of a problem for Democrats by 2016 and 2018 and largely disappearing as a problem by 2020.  But near term, it's a problem for Democrats with many of the voters who will be paying more for health care in 2014.

    I realize that my assessment may be an unpopular opinion on here, but I will repeat:

    Why should any voter who is paying more for health care in 2014 reward the Democrats with their votes?  

    •  Because they were going to pay more, anyway (38+ / 0-)

      Health care costs have been rising every year without the ACA. There are millions of people who have now signed up who didn't have health care before. Our job is to make sure they vote.

      The law is misunderstood by almost everyone, and the variations from state to state regarding the exchanges and medicaid expansion have confused a lot of people.  But the fact is, people are getting health care who never had it before. According to our own Brainwrap, there are over 5 million signups so far.  That's not trivial.

      ACA signups

      Imagine all the people, living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. John Lennon

      by GwenM on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 05:00:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The ACA will NOT cost Dems votes (38+ / 0-)

      The select group cited by the NY Times is very small.  1-3% of all people.  

      First you factor in that it's for individuals making more than $50,000 a year or family of 4 making more than $90,000 a year.  Basically that's people who are making too much money to qualify for subsidies which means that something like 90% of the American people are NOT in that group cited by the NY Times.  

      Then you eliminate people who already have insurance through their employer and are not adversely affected.  

      Then you eliminate people under the age group 50-65 who can now get insurance through their parents plan (up to age 26), people between 26 and 50 who can get cheaper plans via the market with additional support from subsidies and/or Medicaid and people over 65 who are on Medicare and are seeing additional savings with Medicare D and free preventative care.

      What you're left with then are people aged 50-65 who for whatever reason do not have employer provided health care, who do not qualify for subsidies and/or Medicaid and were adversely affected by the implementation of the ACA.

      That group of people, many of who likely ALREADY vote GOP will be more than offset by the other 97-99% of people who will NOT be affected or will be positively affected and will get affordable healthcare for far cheaper or for free.  Per current count we're seeing anywhere between 6-9 million who thanks to the ACA will be getting heathcare via their parents, the market place or Medicaid who did not have it before.  Aside from a few anecdotal stories of ill informed people who will actually benefit from the ACA, there are nowhere near 1 million people who will be adversely affected.

      Furthermore, there are far MORE people who are being adversely affected by the GOP's policies of refusing Medicaid help at the states levels, who see their fellow citizens in Kentucky and other states getting it and are left wondering why they too are not who will be far more pissed
      than a few rich people with shitty plans who are being forced to buy more expensive plans.  These are people in red states who are far more likely to vote D this time.  This group is much bigger than the very small group of former D voters who have been adversely affected by the ACA who will vote R.

      This notion that the ACA will hurt us will become a self fulfilling prophecy if pant wetting Dems don't stop fucking wetting their pants, change their diapers and grow a spine over the ACA.  It's not the perfect plan, far from it, but it's helping FAR more people than it's hurting. One poll by CNN showing Dems doing badly, especially when 3 others are showing a break even is hardly the reason to get nervous.  

      This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

      by DisNoir36 on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 05:08:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think the narrative is starting to change (20+ / 0-)

        there are increasing stories offering other than the problems about it.  Take a look at the Abbreviated Pundit Roundup for some examples.

        The question is more about some spineless Democrats in DC.  But what else is new?  Don't we confront that on so many issues?

        "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

        by teacherken on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 05:19:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well that's the problem (10+ / 0-)

          At this point when we talk about the people who will be paying more, those people fall into one of two categories:

          Either they're in a red state and would otherwise qualify for Medicaid if it had been expanded in which case their anger will more likely be directed at their state gov't which is run by GOoPers.

          Or they fall into a second and very tiny category of people mostly aged 50-65 who make more than $50,000 a year individually or $90,000 for a family, who do NOT already have employer provided health insurance and who for whatever reason will be paying significantly more next year for health insurance.  

          Anyone who points to the second group and raises concerns about the upcoming election as a result of this group being upset enough to vote R (assuming they already didn't) is frankly wildly off base or just plain trolling.

          This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

          by DisNoir36 on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 05:30:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  this is at least the second time (4+ / 0-)

      I've seen this and frankly if you can not start backing this up you should stop saying it.

      Der Weg ist das Ziel

      by duhban on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 06:20:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Isn't the poll set out at the start of this diary (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chingchongchinaman, jhecht, RichM

        back-up for the contention that Dems are losing ground against the Republicans?  If not the ACA, then what is the cause for that in your estimation?  If you disagree with the assertion, maybe it's you who needs to back up your contention.

        I don't love the idea/prediction set out by the commenter and I hope s/he is wrong, but I think the comment is sufficiently well argued to make a point. How could a commenter "back up" a prediction of something that has not yet happened other than by explaining why s/he believes that it will?

        I don't understand your comment at all. What kind of "back up" would satisfy you if the detailed discussion here doesn't constitute back-up? Or is it just that you want pasuburban1 to simply stop talking? You don't have to agree with the commenter, of course, but why assert that s/he has no right to comment?

        The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain, is floating in mid-air, until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life. Jane Addams

        by Alice Olson on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:36:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  not really (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          awcomeon, Dodgerdog1

          It's 1 poll and as such subject to variations and fluctuations. And that is assuming it's even accurate which it might not be. Public opinion fluctuates all the time both naturally and though noise.

          I also am not required to come up with reasons for you. You or pasuburan1 are however required to support with actual evidence and logic any assertion you make. And no 'well it couldn't be anything else' is not inherently logic. You have to prove that.

          As to 'back up' the commenter has made very specific claims. These claims should be 'backed up' with actual evidence instead of more of the 'woe to democrats because I don't like the ACA'. These are not predictions they are statements and declarations.

          Lastly you either are presenting a strawman or have fallen into a strawman in that last paragraph. I've never told anyone to stop talking even when I think what they are saying is so stupid I can't believe they are saying it. Everyone is welcome to their own opinion but neither you nor pasububran1 are entitled to your own facts.

          Der Weg ist das Ziel

          by duhban on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 10:27:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  You might as well say that McCain's (0+ / 0-)

          Convention bump in 2008 when he chose Sarah Palin as his running mate was an indication that Obama was going to loooooooooose! In fact, McCain/Palin led slightly in the polls for two whole days, and then lost 1.5% a day for two weeks. You might as well be telling Truman not to bother campaigning against Dewey.

          Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

          by Mokurai on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 10:19:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Nothing has changed on company provided (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ahumbleopinion, ColoTim, Dodgerdog1

      policies as far as I see, my company, all the same

      there are very few people who will actually pay more and not get a whole lot more for it and most people get ins at work

      "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

      by merrywidow on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 08:04:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Anyone (10+ / 0-)

      just now noticing that their health care costs are rising year-to-year and that decides that after a decade of out of control premium increases they are going to blame the ACA for the cost increases was looking to be anti-Obama and anti-Democrat to begin with.  I doubt they ever were going to vote Democrat.  

      I mean, you literally have to have been born yesterday to not have noticed that premiums have been increasing out of control for years.

      The small percentage of people who had plans cancelled by the ACA certainly may have a grudge.  Anyone with a company backed plan who has a premium rate increase who is blaming the ACA is likely doing so because they are an avid Fox/Rush/etc. listener to begin with, so.........

    •  My premiums went down (7+ / 0-)

      $200 a month.  Same policy.  I will be paying less for health care.  Not everyone is paying more.  Just saying ...

      "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

      by Steven D on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:41:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  OK, here's my persuasive argument: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ColoTim, GwenM, Josiah Bartlett

      (As you asked) -

      For voters and families whose health care costs in 2014 are higher, more expensive than in years past, why should they vote for Democrats for Senate and House?  Why?
      Because it's the right thing to do. Because I have the income to pay more than many can for healthcare, and because I have the education and political savvy to understand that the common good is a good thing for me, too. That eventually it will help me, by reducing overhead at emergency rooms, and by proactively serving people before they hit "critical health."

      What's so damned hard about that?

      The number of children and teens killed by guns in one year would fill 134 classrooms of 20 students each. (Chlldren's Defense Fund, 2013)

      by nzanne on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 10:58:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There are many more who will be helped by the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, Libby Shaw

      ACA than hurt.  Why should they vote for Repubs who have actively done every thing in their power to deny affordable health insurance coverage to Americans who most desperately need it?  Do their votes for Dems count for nothing?  I no longer worry so much about polls.  If I had listened to the "unskewed polls" trumpeted in rightwing talking points last election, there is no way Pres. Obama or any other Dems had a snowball's chance in hell of being elected in 2012.  

      Your reasoning reminds me very much of the CW spewed by Faux Nooz and our useless, non-journalistic MSM in every election.  Gallup was a perfect example. According to them, ONLY Repub voters are important.  The vast majority who the ACA have helped don't and won't count.  Only the tiny minority who are negatively affected will determine the ultimate fate of health insurance reform.  

      Single payer would have alleviated most of these problems.  But, even then, Pres. Obama and generic Dems would have been doomed.  Doomed, I tell you.  Geesh.

      •  Yes but the polls were correct ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Not the 'unskewed' ones, the real ones.

        You ask:  "Why should they vote for Repubs who have actively done every thing in their power to deny ..."

        I answer: millions do, have done before and will again.  Most voters in this country are idiots.  I hate to say that but I firmly believe it.  

        Just a year ago, millions and millions of our fellow citizens who battle to stay off the poverty line thought Mitt Romney was their best hope.

        •  Your assessment that millions of our fellow (0+ / 0-)

          citizens vote idiotically gets no flack from me.  Unfortunately, you sure seem to be correct, as far as that aspect is concerned.  However, I still believe that those who have/will benefit from the ACA will garner a larger share of supportive votes than those from the relatively minor number of people who have taken a hit from the new law.  

          I try to be a realist when it comes to negatives that Dems must contend with each election cycle.  But, the naysayers always seem to be given the most blaring megaphones, and the sky-is-afalling crew are often incorrect.  IMO, spineless Dems who refuse to support middle class and poor safety net issues will create a much larger danger for the party than fallout from the ACA. We will see.

    •  I agree, pasuburbdem (0+ / 0-)

      I am also one, BTW.

      To we really believe voters will actually say, yeah, I pay more, but it would have been worse, or that's okay; so many more uninsured are now covered?

      Every single healthcare problem, rate increase and micro-change will be blamed, rightly or wrongly, on the ACA.  

      The Republicans will push and push; their media enablers will parrot.

      The Senate is gonna be gone unless the GOP really steps on its dick again with some more crackpots; the House is safe for them.

      It sucks, but we have to wait for 2016 to make any real progress electorally.

  •  The corporate media has a vested interest (8+ / 0-)

    in creating a horse race and promoting Republicans, but
    assessing the 2014 election in 2013, is like swatting flies. Recent bad press about the ACA may be driving the polls among the ignorant who vote, but when the success stories start being publicized, things will change again.

    It is ridiculous to pretend that firing teachers based on student test scores, starting charter schools, giving out vouchers or implementing merit pay will overcome the challenges facing a child living in poverty. -Jersey Jazzman

    by Desert Rose on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 06:37:52 AM PST

  •  How can it be otherwise for non-compromisers? (0+ / 0-)
  •  He's wrong about 2014, though: (0+ / 0-)

    There doesn't need to be a message that is consistent or coherent nationwide for the 460 odd races.  It's the advantage of the party not holding the presidency .

    If Hobby Lobby is against contraception, why does it buy its inventory from China, the country that limits the number of children by law?

    by Inland on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:10:00 AM PST

  •  ACA: easy issue, DEMS want people to get affordabl (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    health care and the GOP has no ideas, so we will make the ACA work for everyone and medical costs are DOWN, and no one wants to go back to when kids were not on parents plans and there were caps and exclusions for pre-existing condidtions

    ask voters who are pissed off if they want all the good things to go away and if not, how do ins cos afford it without a huge pool of people paying in????

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 08:02:53 AM PST

  •  Midterm politics (0+ / 0-)

    is generally very local, absent wave years like 1974, 1982, 1994, 2006 and 2010, which this is not. Also, the top of the ballot in several states will feature not-so-popular governors from 2010.

  •  Until we know the numbers as of April 1 (0+ / 0-)

    We really won't know exactly how the situation will be set but based on the trends, things should look pretty good by then. The essential problems for the people who are "losers" are those not getting Medicaid (that's a red state GOP thing), and the people reported on by the NY Times, 50+ folks who are affluent (or at least making do) professionals who have been buying low-cost, low-value plans through their professional associations. They are a Democratic constituency by and large, and I don't think they're going to vote for Republicans out of pique; most of them are in blue states anyway. Their issues could be dealt with if there was any will in Congress.

  •  Yeah, that may all be true (0+ / 0-)

    but still they are kicking our ass(es)


  •  The GOP has no new ideas!! (0+ / 0-)

    On the whole, the GOP has become an entrenched party beholden to tired and failed policies.  Whenever a Republican comes up with even the slightest shimmer of a new and reasonable idea, the fanatics on the conservative fridge will have nothing to do with it.  Conversely, Democrats are dangerously close to encountering a similar fate.  At the time, I thought the 2008 primary was evidence that the party was going in a new direction.  Like many of you, I have since become very discouraged to see much of the same.  2016 ought to be interesting.  Hope can be hard to come by at times.  But then I look lat people like Elizabeth Warren and Bill De Blasio (even if I am slightly concerned by some of his recent appointments) and my optimism returns.  Who Knows?  Only time will tell.

  •  The Larger Picture: Healthier People (0+ / 0-)

    The larger picture is that expanding the availability of health care should result in a better level of health for everyone.

    The current model of health care leaves so many people on their own and their health declines to the point where they are much more seriously ill by the time they seek out medical care.

  •  The bizarre thing about the GOP's divide (0+ / 0-)

    ... over the ACA is ...

    It was their health care reform plan to begin with.

    In the news articles about this divide I keep posting comments pointing this out:  

    "Obamacare" was basically invented by a conservative think tank ... put forth as the Republican alternative to health care reform ... and implemented by Mitt Romney.

    Now this conservative, market-based, for-profit-corporation-based plan for health care has suddenly somehow become "Socialism" and "a government takeover of healthcare."

    The response:  Crickets, of course.

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