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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

As the nation braces for one of the most important Supreme Court decisions ever, E. J. Dionne, Jr. explains how the public debate was framed: “The ACA is the victim of a vicious cycle: Obamacare polls badly. Therefore, Democrats avoid Obamacare, preferring to talk about almost anything else, while Republicans and conservatives attack it regularly. This makes Obamacare’s poll ratings even worse, which only reinforces the avoidance on the liberal side…The media have abetted the problem, but this is partly a response to the impact of the vicious cycle on how the issue has been framed. As a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism has shown, terms used by opponents of the law, such as “government-run,” were much more common in the coverage than terms such as “pre-existing conditions.”
At CNN Politics, Gregory Wallace explores the ramifications of the term “Obamacare.”
Everyone will undoubtedly be playing Monday Morning quarterback when the decision is released. As for Democratic strategy, at WaPo Peter Wallsten cites “the ‘musket defense’ supported by Harvard Law proff Lawrence Tribe and others: “To defend the health-care mandate, for instance, the government could have cited past measures such as a 1792 law signed by President George Washington requiring able-bodied men 18 or older to purchase a musket and ammunition. Several scholars, even former president Bill Clinton, have cited the 18th-century law as an example of an individual mandate that happened to be imposed by a president with impeccable originalist bona fides.”
Regarding the ACA mandate, at Talking Points Memo Brian Beutler notes the ‘adverse selection’ problem: “The prevailing view among policy experts and industry insiders is that if the mandate falls, the rest of the health care law becomes unsustainable. A phenomenon known as adverse selection will dominate the insurance market when younger, healthier people opt not to purchase insurance, premiums will spike, and the market will enter a death spiral…” If that happens, why not amend the act with an irresistible tax incentive for younger workers to “buy in”?
MSM bias in reporting on appeals courts ruling on the constitutionality vs. unconstitutionality of the ACA has been even worse than you think, according to this well-documented report from Media Matters: “A majority of federal rulings on the substance of President Obama’s health care reform law have found it to be constitutional, including the law’s mandate that individuals purchase health insurance. But a Media Matters review of the five largest newspapers and the flagship CNN, Fox News, ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news programs finds that the media overwhelmingly focused on rulings that struck down the law in whole or in part — 84 percent of segments on the broadcast and cable programs reviewed and 59 percent of newspaper articles that reported on such rulings — while largely ignoring rulings that found it constitutional or dismissed the case.”
OK, here’s the headline for an Associated Press story by Jennifer Agiesta: “Poll: 1-in-4 uncommitted now in White House race.” Here’s a sentence that appears about 2/3 into the story “Overall, the poll found that among registered voters, 47 percent say they will vote for the president and 44 percent for Romney, a difference that is not statistically significant.” (toplines here) If you suspect that the headline will become the poll meme, and far fewer will read the article, you are not alone.
For an informative case study of how Republican Governors suppress voting rights by executive order, read AP’s “Iowa governor strips voting rights from thousands of felons, restores few.”Gov. Branstadt requires felons who have served their time to submit a credit report with the application to restore their voting rights. As a result, “…8,000 felons in Iowa have finished their prison sentences or been released from community supervision, but less than a dozen have successfully navigated the process of applying to get their citizenship rights back, according to public records obtained by the AP. Branstad’s office has denied a handful of others because of incomplete paperwork or unpaid court costs.”
Could this headline and the poll behind it be an indication that voters may indeed be ready to penalize congressional Republicans for ‘gridlock, obstruction and paralysis’?
Susan Page’s report on “Latinos Strongly backing Obama” quotes an ad strategy tip from Sylvia Manzano, a political scientist at Texas A&M University: “Running an ad that says, ‘I would never vote for Sonia Sotomayor,’ ‘I would veto the DREAM Act’ — those are really easy things to crystallize and repeat…”
For a disturbing look at how out-of-state, right-wing money is being marshalled to defeat one of the best progressive U.S. Senators, see David Callhan’s “Private Wealth and the Public Interest: Sherrod Brown Under Attack.” This could be the marquee state-wide race for ‘people power’ vs. big money. Dems in states where their Senate race is pretty much decided may want to help out Sherrod Brown at this ActBlue page.

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