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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

The Republican anti-Obamacare message du jour seems to be that the President “lied” when he said everyone can keep their current insurance policy under the ACA, when it now appears that as many as fiver percent may not. Senator Mary Landrieu is introducing legislation to allow “anyone who is satisfied with their current insurance to retain it,” according to Richard Cowan’s Reuters report. Dems should freely admit that tweaks to the ACA will be needed, introduce corrective measures and force Republicans to address them. Some potential fixes, like Sen Manchin’s proposed one-year delay of the individual mandate are more problematic, but some kind of extension should be workable. In any case, the Republicans will oppose all reasonable compromises, and that could work in favor of Democratic candidates next year.
There are also incidents of excessive premium hikes under the ACA, as Ariana Eunjung Cha and Lena H. Sun report at the Washington Post. “There are definitely winners and losers,” explains Sabrina Corlette of Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms in the Post article. “The problem is that even if the majority are winners… they’re not the ones writing to their congressmen.” Many of the hikes will disappear once the on-line exchanges are functioning smoothly. But Dems will also have to formulate some adjustments to reduce unfair premium hikes experienced by middle-class consumers, while always underscoring the far-reaching benefits of the legislation. ‘Mend it, don’t end it’ remains a credible message point for Dems.
Robert Reich points out that health insurance companies are still bullish and “jubiliant” about the ACA, which after all, was the GOP alternative to single-payer. Reich notes a “deep irony to all this. Had Democrats stuck to the original Democratic vision and built comprehensive health insurance on Social Security and Medicare, it would have been cheaper, simpler and more widely accepted by the public. And Republicans would be hollering anyway.” A strategic consideration to think about for future battles.
NYT’s Nicholas Kristoff has a good post putting all of the Obamacare nitpicking in perspective, noting “…far more serious is the kind of catastrophe facing people like Richard Streeter, 47, a truck driver and recreational vehicle repairman in Eugene, Ore. His problem isn’t Obamacare, but a tumor in his colon that may kill him because Obamacare didn’t come quite soon enough.” Says Streeter’s doctor, quoted in Kristoff’s article: “I am tired of being the messenger of death,” said Dr. Gibson. “Sometimes it’s unavoidable. But when people come in who might have been saved if they could have afforded care early on, then to have to tell them that they have a potentially fatal illness — I’m very tired of that.” The salient message here is that, despite all of the start-up glitches, Obamacare will prevent many such tragedies in the future.
At Sabato’s Crystal Ball, managing editor Kyle Kondik explores “The Cost of Ted Cruz’s Rebellion.”
Sure, it’s a plus when your candidate is physically attractive. But people who vote for candidates because of their “healthy” looks, instead of their policies are probably not an easily-targeted demographic. Lots of members of congress don’t look all that healthy, and surely many of them beat healthier-looking candidates. And voters who chose candidates because of their looks likely divide their support more or less evenly between Dems and the GOP over time. It’s a nebulous, ‘washout’ demographic not worth worrying about.
Mayha Rhodan has an interesting Time Swampland post on the complications caused by Virginia’s restrictive early voting law. As Rhodan explains, “In Virginia, if you don’t have one of 15 possible excuses, you are not eligible for absentee voting. Excuses range from being in college to having a long commute or a religious obligation. Though the state has taken steps to make in-person absentee more accessible by extending absentee voting until Nov. 2, proponents of wide spread early voting say the fact that an excuse is needed is still too limiting. “Getting an absentee ballot isn’t that difficult for some segments of the population,” said Hope Amezquita, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. “It’s just there are 15 excuses that will allow a voter to be eligible to apply, but there are a lot of people whose excuses aren’t included.” While about 30% of voters voted early nationwide in 2008, for example, just 14% voted early in Virginia… In 32 states, voters can cast a ballot early by going to a designated early polling location (or mailing their ballot-in) between 45 days and a week before Election Day. In 27 states, any registered voter can cast an absentee ballot without an excuse, either in person or via the mail.”
AP’s Matt Sedensky reports that a new AP/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll “finds passionate opposition to any change in the way Social Security benefits are calculated that could result in smaller annual raises…The poll found that 62 percent of respondents expressed opposition to such a proposal, compared with 21 percent who supported it.” But the poll also “finds support among those 50 and older for raising the cap on earnings that are taxed to fund the Social Security program so higher-income workers pay more…Currently, the cap is $113,700, meaning those earning more do not pay Social Security taxes on wages above that threshold…The poll found that 61 percent of people favored raising the cap, compared with 25 percent opposing it.” Dems own all the high ground on this one.
…As if this could be otherwise, given the GOP’s extremist candidates in VA.

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