The following article by Democratic strategist Robert Creamer, author of “Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win,” is cross-posted from HuffPo:
From all indications the GOP has gambled all the marbles on the proposition that Obamacare will sink Democratic candidates this fall. But the odds are good, they have made a losing bet.
In fact, it’s looking more and more like Obamacare may even be a net positive for Democrats this November.
Of course one reason why Republicans are banking so heavily on the toxicity of Obamacare is that they really don’t have much else to fall back on. The popularity of Republicans in Congress is at an all time low. And Democrats have the high political ground on just about every other major issue.
Raising the minimum wage is enormously popular with a public that is sick of stagnant wages while Republican Wall Street bankers continue to rake in record bonuses. Republicans say no.
Large majorities favor continuing federal unemployment benefits in an economy where there are still three job seekers for every job. But the Republican leadership has blocked continued unemployment benefits.
The GOP’s anti-woman, anti-gay outbursts make them look like an artifact of another era to young people and swing voters. As the New York Times reported last Friday:
In the past few months, Republicans have called Wendy Davis, a Democratic candidate for Texas governor “Abortion Barbie,” likened Allison Lundergan Grimes, a Senate candidate from Kentucky, to an “empty dress,” criticized Hillary Rodham Clinton’s thighs, and referred to a pregnant woman as a “host”.
Their seminars on “how to talk to women” don’t seem to be working.
Overwhelming majorities favor immigration reform that the Republican leadership has single-handedly blocked in the House.
Americans completely disagree with GOP “climate deniers” who don’t believe in science and are tied at the hip to Big Oil.
Over 90 percent of the population agrees with Democrats that it’s time to perform background checks on 100 percent of gun sales in the United States — but the GOP put up a stonewall to commonsense gun violence legislation after the massacre at Sandy Hook.
Most Americans reacted with revulsion to the GOP shutdown of government last fall.
So it’s no wonder that Republicans have pinned all of their hopes for the mid-terms on the proposition that the botched Obamacare roll-out would sour the public on the signal accomplishment of President Obama’s first term.
But once again, the Republicans are on the wrong side of history.
As a political matter, it is much harder to take things away from people than it is to mobilize them to achieve some yet-unrealized goal. Republicans used that fact to great advantage as they frightened people that the Affordable Care Act would “take away” their health insurance or force them to abandon trusted medical care providers.
Their problem is that this same fact of human nature has begun to work for the Affordable Care Act as more and more Americans have begun to experience the law’s benefits and don’t want to see the GOP take those benefits away.
Unfortunately for the GOP, the Affordable Care Act is working.
Since enrollment began in October, 4 million people have picked a private plan on the new marketplaces. Another 6.3 million have signed up, renewed or learned they are eligible for Medicaid. And 3.1 million young people can now stay on their parent’s plan until they are 26.
So as of today, more than 13 million Americans have already enrolled in some form of ACA benefit, and there is every indication that the pace will massively accelerate as this year’s deadline for enrollment approaches at the end of March.
Young people are signing up at a higher rate. Enrollment of 18- to 34-year-olds that is necessary to keep down the insurance rates on the exchanges increased 65 percent — more than all other age groups combined.
Groups like Our Time have recruited more and more young people with terrific videos like the one at the bottom of this article.
In fact progressive organizations of all sorts have put their shoulder to the wheel and are helping to enroll Americans in the final push to March 31st.
What’s more, since Obamacare was passed, health care costs have gone up at the slowest rate ever recorded — and the Congressional Budget Office recently confirmed that the ACA will cut the deficit more than $3 trillion over the next 10 years.
Consumer protections have gone into effect that most people do not want the Republicans to take away. Voters simply don’t want to go back to the days when insurance companies could enforce life time benefit caps, or cut off policies if you get sick, deny coverage or charge exorbitant premiums if you have a pre-existing condition, or charge you more for coverage because you are a woman.
Nearly 6 in 10 uninsured people have been able to find coverage for less than $100 per month — often with government subsidies that make health insurance affordable
Most important, there are more and more examples every day of people whose lives have literally been saved by the Affordable Care Act — people who couldn’t afford check ups who have found they needed life saving procedures after they got ACA coverage; people who couldn’t afford life saving therapies without going bankrupt or would simply would have died without their new health care coverage.
The problem for the GOP is that all the memories of the malfunctioning website and GOP scare tactics are beginning to fade from memory. Turns out there weren’t any “death panels” — and most of the people whose coverage didn’t meet the new standards of the ACA could get better coverage at lower prices.
And most of the “horror stories” cited by the GOP turn out on closer examination to be bogus.
In fact, in the eight months between now and the November elections, most Americans will come to realize that the Affordable Care Act was a pretty good idea. And by November 2016, it’s success will be seen an a clear validation of progressive values and the progressive agenda of the Democratic Party.
If they think back, the GOP has seen this movie before — and it did not end well. During his ill-fated presidential campaign in 1996, Senator Bob Dole famously acknowledged that he, and the Republicans were “there, fighting against Medicare” when it was passed in 1965. The GOP practically claimed that Medicare would send the country down the path to becoming a Soviet Republic.
Today, everyone in American politics understands that politicians have to keep their “hands off Medicare” — which along with Social Security are the most beloved and efficient programs ever passed by Congress.
In fact, as a fervent Democrat I practically cheer every time a Republican makes another wild, exaggerated claim about Obamacare. Go ahead — make our day. You will live to regret it — sooner than you think.