Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Friday, April 18th, 2014.

Doubling Down

Obama Administration

There are two sides of the Obamacare story today. Progressives are pumping their fists and declaring, HOO-yah. Conservatives are shaking their fists and declaring they will defend the Alamo to the last, um, man. Or something.

From what I can tell, opinion polls on the ACA haven’t changed much over the past several months, and a small majority still disapprove of it. It will be interesting to see if this week’s news will move the needle.

Still, as Josh Marshall writes,

As I noted recently, GOP policy analysts are pretty clear now that Obamacare isn’t collapsing, hopes of the politicals notwithstanding. And strategists have started to hint that flat opposition – repeal with no alternative that provides something like the same range of benefits – may no longer be viable from a political standpoint.

Of course, in the Obamacare gotterdammerung bubble, Obamacare is on its last legs and President Obama will soon resign and ask the country for mercy as he’s hustled off by federal marshals to stand trial for Obamacare and socialism. Back on planet earth though reality-based opponents see the writing on the wall.

What’s next for the deniers? Joan Walsh predicts they’re going to go after the subsidies.

McCarthy also tacks on an ugly parenthetical, asking “how many received a subsidy (raising concerns about fraud).” Brian Beutler at the New Republic calls this an effort to “welfarize Obamacare,” to stigmatize it and also make it subject to the same hysteria about “fraud” that conservatives use to smear other social programs. …Still, a high rate of subsidies will let the GOP continue to demonize the “takers” vs. the “makers.” But some of them are going to have a big problem: A lot of the takers will turn out to be their voters.

Some guy at the Weekly Standard is saying the debate will be over when the American people say it’s over. Although, of course, by “American people” he means “right-wing think tanks.” And he says, “Repeal, now more than ever!”

The problem is, even many of the more demented wingnuts realize they can’t just repeal without taking a huge political hit. If they had something credible to replace the ACA they might use that, since the law still isn’t that popular. But they don’t. And they’re not going to. Greg Sargent writes,

The American public doesn’t believe there is any Republican alternative to the health care law.

That’s borne out in polls — more on that in a moment — but it’s rarely confirmed by Republicans themselves. . . .

. . .Kaiser’s tracking polls on health care — the gold standard — neatly demonstrate that Americans don’t believe there is any Republican alternative. Its March poll found that only 29 percent of Americans want to repeal Obamacare, but in that category, only 11 percent of Americans want to repeal the law and replace it with an unspecified GOP alternative. In February some 12 percent were in that latter category. In October it stood at 13 percent. And so on.

The GOP “repeal and replace” strategy relies on keeping replace vague. It relies on a gamble that voters won’t notice that the actual choice Republicans are offering them is to stick with Obamacare or to return to the old system. The map is so bad for Dems that Republicans could win the Senate in spite of the problems with this strategy. But even so, there is a basic nuance in public opinion that continues to go underappreciated. The most likely explanation for the combination of continued disapproval of Obamacare and continued opposition to repeal is that many Americans may not like what the law requires in exchange for its good stuff – or beyond that perhaps they don’t like the health system and are skeptical it can be made better — yet they understand that Obamacare is the only set of solutions we’re going to get

The political question is whether Republicans can keep their bluff going all the way to November.

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