How Americans for Prosperity’s Obamacare attacks could backfire on GOP

Michigan, along with red states like North Carolina, has become a critical front in the war over Obamacare. Americans for Prosperity is spending huge money on ads against Dem Senate candidate Gary Peters, to demonstrate a close race in a blue-leaning state and reinforce the narrative that Republicans are broadening the Senate map.

In the case of Michigan, however, AFP’s aggressive engagement could backfire. And in an interview with me, Rep. Gary Peters signaled how Dems will aggressively work to make this happen.

In Michigan, GOP governor Rick Snyder, with some GOP support from the state legislature, has implemented the state’s own version of the Medicaid expansion. It is set to take effect this spring and expand coverage to well over 400,000 people.

AFP campaigned against the Medicaid expansion, and it’s working to block it in places like Louisiana and Nebraska. AFP has even said it will continue campaigning against Republican legislators in Michigan who supported the expansion, to punish them. Critical to AFP’s agenda is to block the expansion from moving forward or succeeding wherever possible.

The GOP Senate candidate, Terri Lynn Land, is for full Obamacare repeal. So when the expansion kicks in for huge numbers in Michigan, who will she side with — AFP’s agenda, or that of GOP governor Rick Snyder? Will she support or oppose the expansion?

This gives Dems a way to turn the issue back on her, by painting her as extreme and a tool of out of state interests in a blueish state where the expansion could prove popular. Peters signaled he will do just that.

“The Medicaid expansion is going to help well over 400,00 people here, while the Koch brothers’ agenda is to stop these folks from getting health care,” Peters told me. “On this issue, you have to make a choice. Terri Land’s support comes from the far right and the Tea Party. Her strident stand that we must repeal the ACA alone would mean hundreds of thousands would no longer have access to critical coverage.”

Asked if the ACA was a problem for him, Peters defended the law, suggesting he won’t let attacks drive a wedge. “There are problems with implementation, and we need to make sure it’s fixed and working right,” Peters said. “But the ACA takes us in the direction we need to go. It’s a core belief of mine that everybody, no matter who you are, should have access to affordable health care.”

Asked if it was a political mistake to write to TV stations demanding documentation for AFP’s cancer victim ad — as some claim — Peters suggested AFP attacks would continue meeting an aggressive response. “These ads are coming from out of state billionaires trying to determine our next Senator,” he said. “If they put ads on TV, they should have documentation for what they claim.”

This may not be the only place AFP involvement backfires. The AFP also opposed the flood insurance bill in Louisiana that Mary Landrieu championed, a huge issue there, which could rebound against her GOP challenger. And the Medicaid expansion will be debated in Louisiana this spring, with AFP lobbying against it.

Asked for a response, a Land spokesperson said: “Terri sides with Michigan families, and they are hurting because of Congressman Peters’ deceptive tactics to sell ObamaCare.  Michigan families deserve to know whether big banker Gary Peters sides with Harry Reid, who said on the Senate floor that Michigan families who are losing their doctor, losing their insurance plans, and paying higher prices are liars.”

My follow up question — does Land support repealing the Medicaid expansion? — was not immediately answered.

But when the expansion does kick in, it could render the true implications of AFP’s agenda harder to escape. AFP is spending tens of millions on a campaign dramatizing the fear and uncertainty Obamacare is supposedly inflicting on unsuspecting Americans (who tend to be middle aged women). But when the expansion takes hold, it will become clearer that AFP’s active agenda is to take away from untold numbers of people precisely the same economic security and peace of mind the group claims the law is taking from its victims — even as AFP’s televised victims’ tales are turning out to be half-baked, misleading, or played by actors or GOP activists.

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UPDATE: Terri Land responds at length.

 

 

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.
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