As we’ve already seen (see Mitch McConnell and Americans for Prosperity), some Republicans have adopted a creative response to mounting Obamacare enrollment and other signs that the law is more or less on track as intended: Simply pretend the law’s beneficiaries don’t exist.
That may be changing, however. Now some Republicans are grappling with how far to go in acknowledging the existence of the law’s beneficiaries, and, since doing so is getting harder to avoid, what to do about it.
This morning Politico makes the solid point that GOP lawmakers returning to their districts for recess are coming face to face with the reality that the law is actually helping their own constituents. Responses vary. Some are acknowledging a new threshold has been crossed:
“That’s why Sept. 30, Oct. 1 was a critical time,” said Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who led a push for House leadership to defund the law just before sign-ups began last fall. “Now, with some people getting subsidies, it is very difficult to take that away.”
Others say that Yes, a few are benefitting, but far more are getting hurt:
“We’re talking about those outside of a narrow band of folks who have benefited from this law,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina. “We’re talking about the average American who’s been harmed by it, and those are the people that are speaking today.”
Of course, still others continue to suggest the law’s beneficiaries don’t exist:
“Are they truly benefiting?” asked Rep. John Mica of Florida. “I don’t know that.”
I’ve noted before that if the law works over time, which remains uncertain, you could see Republicans pass through Three Stages of Obamacare Acceptance. Some Republicans quoted by Politico seem to be in Stage Two: They are acknowledging the law is helping people, which — given that they still cling to the goal of eliminating it entirely — requires them politically to say they would replace it with something. GOP pollster Brock McCleary opines that there are “very few” Republicans who “want to take everything away and leave nothing behind.”
All of this is the latest sign that the conversation on Obamacare is shifting. GOP candidates increasingly feel the political need to say they support some of Obamacare’s general goals, even if they insist they’d accomplish something similar without subjecting people to all that tyrannical #Obummercare stuff.
Could Republicans get away with this dance, and win the Senate by continuing to vow to repeal #Obummercare, while endorsing aims such as expanded coverage and stronger consumer protections, but failing to offer a plan that would accomplish those things on a meaningful scale? Yes, I think they could pull that off. On the other hand, whoever is destined to the Senate, this is also how the law might fade as an issue: Republicans increasingly endorse (rhetorically at least) its general goals and quietly give up on the idea on offering an alternative that would accomplish them.
In the short term, though, the big story remains that GOP resistance to the law is still doing serious damage, as our next item shows.
* UNINSURED RATE PLUMMETS IN STATES EMBRACING OBAMACARE: A very newsworthy finding from Gallup:
The uninsured rate among adults aged 18 and older in the states that have chosen to expand Medicaid and set up their own exchanges in the health insurance marketplace has declined significantly more this year than in the remaining states that have not done so. The uninsured rate, on average, declined 2.5 percentage points in the 21 states (plus the District of Columbia) that have implemented both of these measures, compared with a 0.8-point drop across the 29 states that have taken only one or neither of these actions.
It’s another sign that Obamacare really can work if officials want to make it work — and that refusal to implement the law really might be having a far reaching impact.
Utah’s final decision may ultimately pave the way for more conservative-leaning states to follow, which could prove to be the best source of continued decline in the national uninsured rate in the months ahead.
For the time being, though, the decision not to opt in to the expansion is leaving millions uninsured and exacerbating racial disparities on health coverage.
* WHERE’S THAT HOUSE GOP ALTERNATIVE TO OBAMACARE? Related to all of the above, conservatives are frustrated:
Conservatives cheered when Majority Leader Eric Cantor pledged a vote during the House GOP’s annual retreat in January, viewing the commitment as a central element of the party’s vow to be “the alternative party” and not merely stand in opposition to President Obama.
Yet 10 weeks later, party leaders have given no indication when they might present a plan or what form it will take.
10 weeks? It’s more like four years.
* OBAMA TO ROLL OUT NEW WORKFORCE INITIATIVE: Today the President travels to Pennsylvania, where he will introduce a new $600 million grant program designed to improve efforts to match up job training initiatives to what employers need from workers, and will need from them going forward as globalization continues changing the jobs of the future.
This the latest move by the President to go around Congress to boost the economy. Of course, for the same reason, it’s also a fairly modest effort, which underscores how constrained he is this regard by a Congress that refuses to act to spur along the recovery.
* BLOOMBERG ROLLS OUT $50 MILLION GUN INITIATIVE: The New York Times reports that Mike Bloomberg is sinking $50 million into a new effort to pressure lawmakers around the country to act on gun control. Bloomberg’s most recent efforts didn’t turn out too well, but this is an interesting angle to keep an eye on, from one of his operatives:
“Right now, women, when they go to the polls, they vote on abortion, they vote on jobs, they vote on health care. We want one of those things to be gun violence prevention.”
And so it’s possible, one supposes, that this issue could be used to peel off suburban and white collar women, who are increasingly important to the Democratic coalition of the future.
* POLL SHOWS DEM LEAD IN GENERIC MATCHUP: A new McClatchy-Marist poll has a counter-intuitive finding: Dems lead in the generic ballot matchup by six points, 48-42. However, the HuffPollster average has the spread considerably closer, at two points. And at any rate, control of the Senate will be decided in seven states carried by Mitt Romney. Still, the new poll just may bolster the case there isn’t a Republican wave building.
* LATEST ON NORTH CAROLINA SENATE RACE: The Dem-aligned Senate Majority PAC is up with a tough new ad hitting GOP establishment favorite Thom Tillis over two former staffers who had inappropriate relationships with lobbyists. Dems hope this resonates with GOP primary voters, forcing a runoff with one of his conservative challengers, pushing the nomination into July and perhaps saddling the GOP with a deeply flawed nominee. The ad also begins to define Tillis for the general election, signaling that Dems will hit him on ethics.
* AND LATEST ON KENTUCKY SENATE RACE: The campaign of Mitch McConnell, who regularly leaps to the defense of the Koch brothers, is now attacking Alison Lundergan Grimes (who outraised McConnell but still has less cash on hand) for taking money from out of state rich donors. The “Hollywood liberal elite” angle will be a big part of efforts to define Grimes, whose chances turn on the degree to which she can ground her candidacy in the state.