Sunday, December 8, 2013
The politics of Obamacare and the middle class perceptions of the Affordable Care Act will be a negative for the GOP in 2014 2014
Looking back at the 2012 presidential elections, and the shock to many that Mitt Romney lost to Barack Obama, the pivotal events were not just the debates, but the one figure: 47, and what it represented. The same currents will be at work in 2014 and Obamacare will play a role.
Enough voters came to the conclusion from that infamous sound bite secretly recorded in which Romney disdained 47% to realize that Romney did not care about them. This perception, coupled with the gender gap, cost him the election.
Pres. Obama drew on his middle class background, a consistent theme since 2008. Some called Pres. Obama’s approach “class warfare” as he constantly referred to middle class interests in his stump speeches. The 2012 election was not just a referendum on the Affordable Care Act, but “ Obamacare” was part of the winning theme: helping the middle class.
Voter perception of middle class vs well heeled may also determine public support for Obamacare in 2014. Those crying “it is worse” will be those who either see benefits they had counted on not materialize or who had to pay more for insurance. Among those will be some well heeled who resent they are the ones picking up some of the tab for the newly insured. They see themselves as losers in the Obamacare law. They may not have realized it, but pre Obamacare, they and all insured were losers: paying for the health care of the uninsured anyway. Charity care and unpaid medical bills were costs hospitals and other providers passed on to those paying insurance premiums to the tune of at least $1000 per family per year.
The fact is Obamacare was not created to subsidize those able to pay for their own health insurance. It was devised to help those who could not afford to buy insurance and who had been faced with unfair insurance company practices. Those individuals making under $50 thousand a year and families of four earning less than $94 thousand a year qualify for subsidies. They are also the ones had once been most likely go bankrupt or face foreclosure because of unpaid medical bills or who feared lay offs, changing jobs, or being fired would leave them without employer provided insurance. That is the kind of middle class relief and security Obamacare provides…always available, affordable coverage.
What will shape opinion about Obamacare the most in the coming year will be the experience of those who sign up successfully and pass on their success stories to families and friends. There are far more of them than those who feel they drew the short straw. The larger number of winners is the problem the GOP faces if they base a campaign on dramatizing stories about the fewer losers.
Count on Republicans running on repealing Obamacare or substituting it with unworkable proposals that fail to accomplish the same goals. By November 2014 over twenty million consumers will have made the effort to sign up and succeeded. When these middle class new customers of affordable health care realize the GOP proposes to take away their newly acquired benefits , or asks them to change systems again, their howls of protest will not be to the GOP’s advantage in November 2014.