Friday, October 18, 2013

Hatred for Obamacare: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Posted By on Fri, Oct 18, 2013 at 10:30 AM

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It's no surprise that Republicans are spinning their strategic retreat on the shutdown and debt ceiling ("strategic retreat" being, of course, a polite euphemism for "abject surrender") as something else. Who wouldn't? It is curious, though, that in crafting the spin many on the right think that doubling down on hatred for Obamacare is the way to go.

Yes, ACAphobia was the spark that lit the fire, as the Wall Street Journal's Jerry Seib aptly summarizes:

To the conservative rebels who brought on a government crisis their party's elders never wanted, the point is simple: They wanted to demonstrate that they don't simply oppose President Barack Obama's signature health-care program, but find it so philosophically objectionable that they will fight it at every turn. To them, it isn't merely a health program but the very symbol of a big-government philosophy that they find threatening.

These "rebels" now find themselves in the role of victims of the law of unintended consequences: not only did the effort to defund ACA fail entirely; as Seib points out it also "demonstrated definitively that the GOP today simply lacks the votes in Congress under any scenario to force meaningful changes to it."

Undeterred by this new reality (or perhaps just impossibly optimistic), the spin on the right now holds that it's only a matter of time before people really come to really see how really disastrous Obamacare really is. The dimwitted likes of Rep. Marsha Blackburn have been misreading polls on the public's mind on this along. Now, with this month's crisis averted, Erick Erickson at RedState advances the delusional ball:

The fight was always about Obamacare. Today we know we must keep fighting and fight harder against even our own supposed side … As more Americans watch Obamacare fail them through the Republican primary season, conservatives will be able to put the focus on Republicans who funded Obamacare instead of fighting it.

There's a problem with this, a rather obvious one: people simply don't dislike Obamacare as much as Marsha and Erick do, not nearly as much. A new Democracy Corps poll makes this clear yet again (pdf with toplines here).

This new poll does reveal, yes, that equal numbers favor and oppose ACA when asked that straight out (45-45 in this survey). But, as in past polls, when you ask whether opponents think the law goes too far vs. not far enough, you end up with not much more than a third of respondents opposed to the law in the way that Marsha and Erick are. Even more telling: Asked whether "we should implement and fix the health care reform law," or whether "we should repeal and replace the health care reform law" voters prefer "implement and fix" by a whopping 58-38% margin.

The ACA deadenders on the right are clinging to the belief that it's just a matter of time before Americans wise up to the expensive and complex morass which is Obamacare. What they miss is that most people already understand that our dysfunctional system of health insurance is an expensive and complex nightmare that invites an expensive and complex remedy. Marsha needs to learn the difference between a feature and a bug.

A version of this post also appears at BruceBarry.net.

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