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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

‘Fix It, Don’t Nix It’ Still Dems Best Play in Defending Affordfable Care Act

From Greg Sargent’s Plum Line post on the Republican’s war against the Affordable Care Act:

…Democrats can continue to stand behind the law’s general goals — expanding coverage to the uninsured; protecting consumers; reining in insurance industry abuse — while signaling a willingness to fix the law as we go along. Indeed, the expert in House races told me Dems must signal this flexibility or put themselves at risk. But he also notes that the GOP position — pushing for full repeal without proposing a meaningful alternative — is also risky, because it could make Republicans look unwilling to solve people’s problems, a potentially toxic position among less partisan voters.
Drew Altman, the president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has done sophisticated polling on Obamacare for years, agrees. Dems, he told me, “can stand on the benefits of the law, which are popular, and talk about improving the law. That’s a position which will be popular with the public.”
This isn’t to say Dems will win the battle over Obamacare. The law remains unpopular and implementation is a big unknown. Rather, the point is that the GOP position is not a clear winner either. Republicans know this, which is why they are claiming yet again that they will roll out an alternative to Obamacare this fall. But herein lies the Obamacare Trap. If that effort crashes and burns under conservative criticism — as it did last time — it will reveal yet again that Republicans simply have no vision for a meaningful role for government to play in fixing the health care system, whether it comes to the consumer protections that are being debated today or anywhere else.

In essence, Dems should always be able to respond to Obamacare repeal-obsessives by saying something like “Look, Medicare wasn’t perfect when it was first passed. It had to be tweaked over the years to get it right and adjust to changing times. The Affordable Care Act is no different in that respect. There are some great provisions in that law and we should keep them, not matter what right-wing extremists say.”

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