Attention Democrats, President Obama ran on “Obamacare” in 2012 and won! Please remember this when Republicans and their media allies proclaim the Affordable Care Act as "toxic" to voters.
Factually speaking, if Republicans have an advantage in the midterm elections due to gerrymandered districts, it should be noted that Republicans have an advantage due to gerrymandered districts; in fact, considering what they have done over the past five years to make life difficult for the poor, the elderly, the unemployed, and the nation, this could only serve to highlight their typically unprincipled behavior. Noted or not, however, what should not be accepted or promoted is the notion of the Affordable Care Act being the reason for the Democratic Party's defeat in the upcoming congressional contests.
During the 2012 presidential election campaign, President Barack Obama’s Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, said this:
If elected, I will repeal 'Obamacare' on day one.Despite this explicit pledge, however, President Obama and the Affordable Care Act prevailed, and mightily so. In fact, in staunchly Conservative North Dakota, where the President lost to his "repeal Obamacare" opponent, Democratic Senatorial candidate Heidi Heitkamp ran as an enthusiastic supporter of “Obamacare” and, here too, she as well as "Obamacare" prevailed.
Now, as we approach the 2014 midterm elections, the drumbeat of media propaganda has frightened and bamboozled Democrats into being fearful and skeptical of their efforts to give tens of millions of people access to healthcare, through the Affordable Care Act.
It was three against one on CNN’s State of the Union, Sunday, where a valiant Neera Tanden, President of Center for American Progress, single-handedly fought back former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today Susan Page, and program host Candy Crawley in the trio's combined effort to portray the Affordable Care Act as a "toxic" morass that is sure to sink the aspirations of Democrats in 2014.
Gingrich immediately spoke of sticker-shock and general dissatisfaction with the ACA that not only caused the defeat of Democrat Alex Sink in this year's Florida special election, where the ACA was a major issue of debate, but predicted that the healthcare law would cause the defeat of Democrats in the upcoming elections, as well as the 2016 presidential contest.
Still, if you listened even not too carefully you would have heard Gingrich not only conveniently omit mention of 2012, the year President Obama ran for reelection and won, among other things, on the public's support of the ACA, but the former speaker also failed to mention that Sink’s Republican opponent, David Jolly, actually underperformed as a Republican candidate in a long standing and predominantly Republican district, as the Nation’s John Nichols pointed out:
Republicans who want to imagine that they can campaign against Obamacare and win every swing seat that is in the offering in 2014 will try to suggest that GOP nominee David Jolly’s win in Florida’s 13th Congressional District proves their point.Gingrich talked of sticker-shock and sat smiling uneasily as Tanden pointed out that the ACA has received over 5 million signups to its national exchange thus far.
But that’s a stretch.
Jolly did campaign as a critic of the Affordable Care Act. And his Democratic foe, cautiously centrist former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, did offer a nuanced defense of the reform initiative—along with a more robust argument on behalf of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
But Jolly did not take a Democratic seat.
He kept a Republican seat.
And just barely.
Jolly’s winning percentage of 48.5 in a low-turnout election—where it is generally thought that the voting patterns favor Republicans—was almost ten points below the 2012 number for the Republican he was running to replace, veteran Congressman Bill Young, who passed away last October. It was more than fifteen points below Young’s finish in the Republican wave year of 2010.
This is where CNN attempted to offer an appearance at evenhandedness by presenting a member of the “impartial” news media (tongue in cheek) Susan Page to offer a voice of truth between opposing political advocates.
Except, even though Page suggested that the ACA could be a winner “in the future” she quickly pivoted to parroting Republican talking points that the Florida special election proved the ACA would be a liability in the upcoming 2014 elections as well as presenting the characterization of the healthcare law as “TOXIC”.
SUSAN PAGE: Neera may be right that over the long term this will be seen a success, that worked, that delivered health care to a lot of people who didn't have it. But I think in the short term you have to say that it’s politically toxic that we saw that in the special Florida House race. It was a damaging thing for the Democratic candidate who lost…to be for…you see those Democratic candidates in the key Senate races in 2014 trying to really hedge their bet on it.Emphasis by diarist
To hear Page’s comment one would be surprised to learn that Democrats added Senate seats in 2012 on the strength of the Affordable Care Act. It wasn't "toxic" then, but "toxic" today after more than 5 million people have signed up?
A New York Times note on the Senate race of 2012:
With the concession of Representative Rick Berg, Republican of North Dakota, to Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, in the last outstanding Senate race, Democrats secured 55 seats, assuming independent former Gov. Angus King of Maine sides with them next year. That is a two-seat gain from the current Senate balance of power, a remarkable outcome for a Senate fight that was once expected to end with a Republican majority.This election season we have been deluged with the media message that Democrats will lose at midterm. And why is that? Well, because the Republican Party has served the nation so well.... They have shut down the government, costing the country $24 billion, have obstructed and blocked the President at every step to prevent him from adding to job creation, they have blocked the passage of gun legislation that at least 9 out of 10 favored, they have fought against equal pay for women, have kicked off 2 million people off unemployment insurance during the Christmas holidays, have taken food out of the mouths of children, and have fought against raising the minimum wage despite the issue's popularity with a majority of the nation. That's why it is important that Democrats push back against the false narrative of the media with clear and concise facts. Fortunately, except for a reference to fixes, Tanden handled herself quite admirably.
NEERA TANDEN: Look, in 2012, people ran hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars against the Affordable Care Act. Democrats expanded the Senate base on this. I think the issue that’s really pushing the election is the economy. And I think Democrats have to defend the Affordable Care Act and talk about fixes where there needs to be fixed but the truth is the facts on the ground are changing. There’s…over the last few months we’ve had more and more people covered.Apparently, Gingrich and Page against Tanden was hardly enough, Candy Crowley had to intervene to push back against the pro-Obamacare-pro-factually speaking Tanden.
CANDY CROWLEY: The question is of course whether they’ve eventually paid for their insurance.Gingrich interjected and what follows is Tanden fighting back to get the truth out over a series of false assertions by CNN and its guests.
NEERA TANDEN: Yes, they have…
CANDY CROWLEY: We have so few facts to know what’s really going on—
NEERA TANDEN: No, we…. Actually we do have facts. 85 percent have actually paid for their coverage. All of these issues, sticker shock—
CANDY CROWLEY : And do we know who they are? Are they young? Are they…
NEERA TANDEN: Yes
CANDY CROWLEY: Are they invincible?
NEERA TANDEN: Yes
CANDY CROWLEY: Are they...The White House has, you have to admit, has been not great in giving us these figures.
NEERA TANDEN: We will have all these figures out months ahead of the elections. And I think you’ll see that people are signing up. We have a large number of young people according to many studies. There's not going to be an increase. But we won't know anything about it being a negative or positive until all the numbers are out and there's people have another week to sign up. I hope they do. Healthcare.gov.
NEWT GINGRICH: A couple of realities. This is a country of about 315 million people. 5 million signed up. 310 million people outside of the system for a variety of reasons.Democrats can win in 2014, there is enough information on the record concerning accomplishments like the ACA, contrasted with the destructive behavior of Republicans. The ACA is not only not “toxic” it represents aid for real day-to-day people, as well as for the economy. Like Neera Tanden, we just need to bring the facts and we might flip a few gerrymandered districts....
NEERA TANDEN: They have insurance. 85 percent of Americans have insurance today.
NEWT GINGRICH: My only point is you...the fact is you have not significantly decreased the number of people without insurance because you have people transferring from one kind of another insurance to another kind insurance --
NEERA TANDEN: That's not true. We're seeing the lowest rate of uninsurance. There's data out. Rates of uninsurance are declining for the first time in decades.
NEWT GINGRICH: A huge number of the younger people are saying, this is not a good buy, I am not going to sign up. I mean our data --
NEERA TANDEN: Higher rates than in Massachusetts of young people signing up.