Can Obamacare be fixed? Vulnerable Democrats are pot committed to this idea. They say most Americans do not want to repeal Obamacare and therefore the only way to make it work is to reform it. They accuse Republicans of not having a viable alternative and wasting billions of dollars on failed efforts to defund it. As a consequence, some Democrats are urging the party to stand firm on this issue, and to stop running way from a law many of them voted for.
Republicans already were pushing their luck by vowing to "repeal and replace" the health care law without having a viable replacement in mind, said Thomas Mills, a Democratic consultant and blogger in North Carolina. Now, he said, Democrats have even more reasons to rise from their defensive crouch on this topic.
"Democrats need to start making the case for Obamacare," Mills said. "They all voted for it, they all own it, so they can't get away from it. So they'd better start defending it."
Even some professionals who have criticized the health care law say the political climate has changed.
"I think Democrats have the ability to steal the health care issue back from Republicans," health care industry consultant said Bob Laszewski said. "The Democratic Party can become the party of fixing Obamacare."
Perhaps. But is this a wise strategy? That is, campaigning on Obamacare if you’re a vulnerable Democrat? A Bloomberg poll released last month suggests it isn’t:
According to the poll, 73 percent of respondents who said they would repeal the health-care overhaul known as Obamacare say the law will be a "major" factor in their vote. And 73 percent said they will "definitely" vote in this year's midterm elections.
By contrast, 45 percent of respondents who support modifications and 33 percent of those who support the law as it currently stands said Obamacare will be a "major" factor in how they vote. Meanwhile, 61 percent and 54 percent of those groups' respondents, respectively, said they will "definitely" turn out to vote.
At the same time, large swaths of the progressive base aren’t feeling particularly energized to vote in this year’s midterm elections. Question: if Democrats continue to defend Obamacare -- rather than run from it -- won’t that merely incentivize Republicans to turn out in greater numbers on Election Day? It’s true that Democrats can’t hide from their voting records given the barrage of attack ads coming their way, but to invoke the Affordable Care Act on the campaign trail in a red state at all seems like political suicide. It will remind voters that millions of Americans were promised they could keep their health care plans, when in fact they couldn’t, by the same people running for re-election. Best to ignore the issue altogether, no?
The polls show pretty consistently four years after the law passed that Obamacare is not a political winner. But if Democrats want to run on it, be my guest.