The political chatter on the Left is clear: Obamacare is good news. The law will expand coverage, lower healthcare costs, and minimize the nation’s deficit. It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
It does. There is no doubt about it. Both sides try to play up their own policies in order to validate their own particular ideologies to the country at large. However, it is one thing is to wrap oneself in an ideology by spewing talking points. It is another is to pay the price for ignoring reality, the reality being that Obamacare is not good for the country, and especially not for Democrats.
Florida’s 13th District special election brings political rhetoric into reality. Democrats outspent the Republican candidate by a 3 to 1 margin on television ads. That’s without mentioning the fact that Republican Congressman Elect David Jolly was a flawed candidate. Recently divorced, he campaigned with his girlfriend and ran on his lobbying career. Mr. Jolly does not look like your stereotypical upstanding citizen that wants to lead a life in public service for the betterment of the country.
David Jolly doesn’t look good on paper: he looks more like a Washington insider than a reformer. And yet, he won by 1.8 percent. He beat a really good candidate like Alex Sink who ran unsuccessfully against Florida Governor Rick Scott. (Governor Scott is also known for his healthcare scandal).
Democrats ran confidently, as they should have, but today’s politics are far from conventional. The political climate is tumultuous, especially for progressive agenda items like Obamacare.
It’s no surprise that the law is unpopular. Only about 44% of Americans trust the government, and even fewer (36%) trust government officials. Even though the law may have positive goals, Americans have an already-existing negative perception of our public institutions. The Obama Administration hasn’t helped itself, either, by pushing for delays in the mandates amalgamated in Obamacare. Five different delays, to be specific, which was enough to convince columnist and liberal Ron Fournier to write an article titled, “Why I’m Getting Sick of Defending Obamacare.”
If the law were as stupendous as some say, why the delays? Why the Democratic loss in the special election? Why the hesitancy of some Democrats, like incumbent Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor, to campaign with President Obama? Only 30 percent of voters in Arkansas have a favorable opinion of Obamacare, and President Obama’s disapproval rating slumps to 63 percent. Not good news at all.
It doesn’t take a politically savvy analyst to say that Obamacare is the best thing that has happened to the Republican Party. Republicans don’t really have to present alternative solutions to the Democratic agenda, because their opponents’ agenda is fragile (to say the least) and the left’s most important law, the Affordable Care Act, keeps unraveling into a bigger mess. Even the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) came out in favor of the Republican plan to delay the individual mandate, saying it would save the country about $31 billion.
Republicans, sadly, don’t need to do anything but wait and see. They will need to point out the flaws in Obamacare and keep talking about the failures of a bigger and more bloated government. As much as I would like the GOP to pose different policy proposals, Democrats are making it easier for them to simply say “no.”
The Republican Party’s mediocrity is not its own fault. It’s the Democrats. If Obamacare were a huge success, and the economy were growing at a faster rate, Republicans would have to come up with more productive and more intelligent proposals. But right now, why would they? Obama is doing all the work for them.
So Mr. President, thank you very much. Thank you for making your party even more unpopular. Or, as Jim Vandehei CEO of POLITICO puts it, thank you for making Republicans “suck slightly less than Democrats.”
Alex Uzarowicz | Knox College | @AUzarowicz