One year after Election Day 2012, here’s where we are:
The Republican Party is still doing all it can to undermine the Affordable Care Act without offering a meaningful alternative — after doing the party untold damage with a government shutdown crisis over it — and Republicans are absolutely convinced that this time, the law is certain to fail. The House GOP leadership is likely to kill comprehensive immigration reform for the year and may not even allow a vote on it in 2014. Republicans are likely to lose a major purple-state gubernatorial race against a flawed Dem candidate, in part because the GOP nominated a Tea Party candidate with a harsh stance on women’s health issues who is losing massively among female voters. Senate Republicans are set to filibuster a measure that would end discrimination against gays in hiring decisions — and may block it in the House.
The ongoing Obamacare rollout disaster is absolutely awful, substantively and politically, for Democrats. A Washington Post investigation details the string of internal missteps that led to the debacle, and pundits are appropriately savaging the administration over them. The law’s long term prospects still could be endangered.
But behind all the certainty among Republicans that Obamacare is akin to an imploding star that will inevitably suck in vulnerable Democrats to their doom, there are lurking some inconvenient big-picture dynamics. For one thing, what do Republicans say if the law gets fixed? They may find themselves forced by the base to continue pushing for repeal, which would take away benefits from the same Americans on whose behalf they were expressing outrage in criticizing the rollout. What’s more, as Brian Beutler points out, the rollout problems could embolden elements who want another Cruzian shutdown crisis, perhaps making one more likely with 2014 approaching.
Beyond all this, the GOP remains deeply divided over other issues now coming to the fore, and by extension, over the way forward for the party in general. As Albert Hunt puts it in a column detailing GOP divisions over immigration:
Republicans are thankful for President Barack Obama’s health-care law; it provides a respite from their bitter schisms.
Obamacare’s current rollout problems — and also, the fact that most House Republicans reside in districts that are insulated from broader currents of national opinion and demographic change — have created what Hunt aptly calls a “respite.” But for how long? A year has passed since the election, and the GOP has still shown no real willingness to address the deep problems and internal tensions that Republicans themselves say will imperil the party long term.
* OBAMA TO PUSH IMMIGRATION AND MINIMUM WAGE: Related to the above: The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House is looking to shift the focus from the Obamacare rollout by mounting a big public push on immigration, and possibly, the minimum wage.
This is a reminder that, for all the problems with Obamacare, Dems still intend to use other issues to reveal the GOP’s governing priorities and unwillingness to solve the country’s problems.
* WHAT THE WAR OVER OBAMACARE IS REALLY ABOUT: E.J. Dionne has a nice column getting to the heart of it:
The truth about this controversy is that there is a broad debate in our country over how much government should do to correct for market outcomes that leave so many Americans without enough income, opportunity or access to the essentials of modern life, notably health insurance.Supporters of Obamacare, including those who wish it had gone even further, believe that social justice requires government to give significant assistance to those who find themselves on the wrong end of an economic system that is producing an increasingly unequal society. Opponents of Obamacare want government to let the market do what the market does.
Many Republicans just don’t believe the federal government should play an ambitious regulatory or redistributive role to protect consumers from the dysfunctional individual market or to expand coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans.
* ENDA EXPECTED TO ADVANCE IN SENATE: Jeremy Peters reports that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act has the support of 59 Senators, and will likely get more than the 60 it needs to break the GOP filibuster:
Political strategists and congressional aides who have been lobbying for the bill say they have received private assurances that there will be enough Republican votes to move the measure forward on Monday, but none of the senators who plan to support it want to say so publicly out of concern that they could become targets by groups opposing the measure.
That’s good, but there will be more procedural votes and then a second filibuster on ending debate. And then there’s the House, where Republicans don’t appear to feel inclined to help the party evolve on multiple issues, gay rights being only one.
* DEMS POISED FOR BIG VICTORY IN VIRGINIA: Quinnipiac’s final poll finds Dem Terry McAuliffe with a six point lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli, 46-40. Meanwhile, the robo-firm Public Policy Polling finds McAuliffe up by 50-43, on the eve of election day. The Real Clear Politics average puts McAuliffe up by 6.4 points.
Republicans point to the fact that Chris Christie is on the verge of an overwhelming reelection victory in the blue state of New Jersey.
Strategists on both sides will be closely watching the makeup of the electorate in Virginia — a purple state where demographic change is said to have national implications — for clues as to who will turn out in 2014.
* MORE ON THE GOP BUSINESS/TEA PARTY SPLIT: Related to the above: The New York Times weekend overview of the Virginia gubernatorial race had this interesting tidbit:
[Terry] McAuliffe has found himself well positioned to exploit the growing split between Tea Party conservatives and the Republican Party’s business wing. A number of Virginia business leaders, some prominent Republicans among them, have abandoned Mr. Cuccinelli to back Mr. McAuliffe, arguing that he would be more effective at creating a positive business climate in the state.
It’s unclear how specific this is to McAuliffe or how deep this rift is nationally. But if Tea Party candidates begin driving pragmatic business-aligned Republicans into the opposing camp in individual races — as Cuccinelli appears to be doing — it will be a sign Dems can exploit this split in ways that end up mattering.
* INSURANCE COMPANIES ALLEGEDLY HIDING OBAMACARE BENEFITS: Talking Points Memo’s Dylan Scott has an interesting investigative piece reporting on examples of insurance companies trying to lock customers into plans with high rates, rather than see them shop on the Obamacare exchanges, where they can find cheaper plans. As one expert tells TPM, this is a reminder of the sorts of insurance industry practices the Affordable Care Act is designed to prevent.
* AND A NOTE ON THE FLORIDA WOMAN WHO LOST INSURANCE: Remember the Florida woman who earned widespread media coverage over the loss of her insurance at the hands of Obamacare? Don’t miss Jonathan Cohn’s piece setting the record straight:
It’s true that she can’t keep her current policy — and that most policies available to her for next year have higher premiums. But those plans also offer real coverage, and her current plan does not. Some people might resent government effectively prohibiting her current plan. Barrette doesn’t appear to be one of them. Based on conversations we’ve had over the past few days, she wants more comprehensive insurance and, within reason, she’s willing to pay more for it.
As she told Cohn: “Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.”