OBAMACARE’S CRITICS have had a bad week. On Thursday, President Obama announced that 8 million people have enrolled in new health insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces, and a significant portion of them are young Americans. Yes, we need to learn more about the numbers. And yes, a lot needs to happen to complete the ACA’s phase-in. The debate about how well the law is working is not over. But the initial figures are encouraging, and Mr. Obama is right to insist that continued Republican demands for repeal are unproductive and unwise.Geoffrey Cowley at MSNBC:
What a difference three months make. The Barack Obama who wore “ACA” like scarlet letters for the last quarter of 2013 sounded like a changed man during Thursday’s press conference on the Affordable Care Act. Rather than re-apologizing for the troubled launch of healthcare.gov, he reveled in numbers well-chosen to undermine the GOP’s 2014 campaign plans.Much more below the fold.
The first one was 8 million. That’s the number of people who have found private coverage through the new insurance exchanges since October. Only 4.2 million people had signed up by the end of February, and supporters worried that the exchanges would fall short of the 6 million needed to preserve a modicum of credibility. By March 31, enrollment had surged to 7.5 million, and the new figure turns the homerun into a grand slam.
John Tozzi at Bloomberg examines the continued attempts at repealing the law:
The repeal-or-nothing approach is getting trickier now that millions of potential voters have enrolled in health plans and started receiving medical care as a result. That means members of Congress running for reelection in November will have to face real people for whom repeal would likely mean losing coverage. [...] away from reality, in the bizarro world where political campaigns exist, Republican candidates are trying to appease those voters dedicated to repeal without alienating more moderate constituents.Greg Sargent adds his take:
Just look at the pickle in which Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) finds himself: The Senate minority leader, up for reelection this year, faces a primary challenge from a Tea Party candidate, Matt Bevin, who promises total opposition to the Affordable Care Act. “Matt will not vote for any spending bills that fund Obamacare. None,” his website says. Bevin’s uncompromising approach recalls the brinksmanship that shut down the government in October, a political disaster for Republicans. He has criticized McConnell for being soft on Obamacare. (Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, got in a spat with Matt Drudge last week after allowing lawmakers to modify an ACA provision by voice vote, which doesn’t record individual members’ positions.)
Amid all the debate over whether Republicans will ever offer an alternative to Obamacare — and whether “repeal and replace” will ever be anything more than a slogan — one thing is worth reiterating: The American public doesn’t believe there is any Republican alternative to the health care law. [...] As I’ve been documenting, multiple GOP candidates are finding it harder and harder to articulate a credible stance on Obamacare. They increasingly feel the political need to say they support Obamacare’s general goals, such as the expansion of coverage or the strengthening of consumer protections. But replace isn’t an easy escape hatch, because there just isn’t any policy space for a replacement that would accomplish what Obamacare does – and the base won’t allow Republicans to embrace the tradeoffs necessary to realize the law’s goals in any case.Chris Cillizza:
it's not clear how many candidates will follow Obama's strategic advice on handling the ACA -- particularly given that so many of the seats up in the Senate (Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina etc.) are in conservative leaning states where many likely voters probably don't agree with the president's assertion that "We can agree it's well past time to move on as a country."The AP:
But, make no mistake: This is President Obama laying out a strategic blueprint as to how he thinks Democrats can run and win in an electoral environment that, at least at the moment, doesn't look great for them.
With enrollments higher than expected, and costs lower, some Democrats say it's time to stop hiding from the president's health care overhaul, even in this year's toughest Senate elections.
Republicans practically dare Democrats to embrace "Obamacare," the GOP's favorite target in most congressional campaigns. Yet pro-Democratic activists in Alaska are doing just that, and a number of strategists elsewhere hope it will spread.