Was it really only a year ago that we were gearing up for the big unveil of Healthcare.gov where the uninsured could seamlessly go online and shop for health care as they would their vacation travel?
It was last September when Republicans sparred with Democrats over the future of the health-care law, a disagreement that prompted a 17-day federal government shutdown and overall chaos. It was pretty much anyone on Capitol Hill talked about. Republicans wanted you to know how terrible it was for America, and Democrats wanted you to remember to sign up on Oct. 1.
In that month, a mere 12 months ago, the word Obamacare was uttered on the House and Senate floor 2,753 times, according to Sunlight Foundation’s database of floor speeches from the Congressional Record.
Oh, how much changes in a year. With just one full week of work left this month, members of Congress have brought up Obamacare in floor speeches just 27 times.
(Sunlight’s most current results do not include Thursday’s floor speeches, and the House passed an under-the-radar bill to undermine a part of the law related to employer health plans, so the number of Obamacare utterances is probably a bit higher.)
With so many other issues at center stage this fall, the health-care law is simply not on voters’ minds. Our colleague Aaron Blake noted earlier this month that polls show voters are generally unhappy with the country’s direction, but few cite Obamacare as the reason why. The issue still galvanizes the Republican base, which is why it’s the subject of many campaign attacks on Democrats, but it’s lost its boogeyman edge.
To be sure, Congress is spending significantly less time in session this September so there are fewer words being spoken on the floor overall. But the explosive opposition to the law — that one year ago resulted in a government shutdown — is now just a low simmer.