The Washington Post

ObamaCare is a political nightmare for the Dems

The Post reports that Americans oppose ObamaCare by a 52 to 41 percent margin. Independents oppose it by 51 to 43 percent. And that’s not all:

More than four in 10 — 42 percent — want the high court to throw out the entire law, 25 percent want to do away with the mandate alone and a similar proportion wants the justices to uphold the entire law.

Just over half the public thinks the mandate is unconstitutional (51 percent), according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released last week. In that survey, fewer than three in 10 (28 percent) said they think the mandate is constitutional. Nearly as many were unsure. Previous Kaiser polls found the mandate to be the least popular provision in the law; majorities supported all other components tested.

Americans, it turns out, did not learn to love the law, as Democratic officials claimed they would. And this raises a whole bunch of problems for the president and his party.

For starters, healthcare plays a prominent role in that fluffy 17-minute “documentary.” The liberal website Talking Points Memo tells us:

Republicans love to run against Obama’s health care plan, but Obama’s video put his signature legislative achievement front and center. Kind of. Unmentioned is the national mandate at the root of Republican opposition — and the Constitutional challenge — to the law, or the subsidized exchanges that the GOP complains cost too much money. That won’t take effect until 2013, after Obama is sworn into his second term.

Woops! Republicans may want to start using clips from that reel.

Second, the heart of the Republicans’ message in 2010 was that instead of focusing on the economy, Obama took his eye off the ball to work on his “historic legislation.” If that “achievement”is now regarded as a loser with the public, the question remains as to why the president didn’t do better on job growth and whether in fact ObamaCare has acted as a drag on hiring. It is one thing to have to defend a weak economy; it’s another to have a weak economy and a healthcare law the public hates.

And finally, each Senate Democrat (with the exception of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) who arrived in 2010) running for re-election is the 60th vote for that unpopular law. For Democrats in swing state like Sens.Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Jeff Bingham (D-N.M.) that is highly problematic. So long as Obama insists on touting this “historic” achievement, these Democrats may be anxious to distance themselves from the president, or at least shy away from being seen with him.

In retrospect, the Democrats would have been much better off getting half a loaf (e.g. a list of bipartisan healthcare reforms) and getting Republicans on board than in jamming through an unpopular and quite possibly unconstitutional law. Recall that Republicans warned that monumental legislation of this kind needed to be bipartisan. Democrats should have listened; They will now reap what they have sown.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.


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