Further proof that Americans are immune to logic. Jon Chait at NYMag on “How Democrats and Republicans Learned to Agree on Obamacare”:
The policy debate around health care is as intractable as ever. But, unnoticed amidst the partisan spin in the wake of the Florida congressional special election, the two parties are converging about the politics of health care. For much of the last four years, Democrats believed Obamacare would help them, and Republicans believed it would pose a fatal liability. Now they both believe the same thing. Democrats and Republicans alike grasp that Republicans have won the public relations war over Obamacare, and [Republicans] have lost the public relations war over repealing Obamacare.
A new Bloomberg poll finds that 51 percent of Americans would keep the Affordable Care Act in place with “small modifications,” against 34 percent who favor repeal, and 13 percent who would make no changes at all…
The public likes keeping the parts of Obamacare where they get money, and opposes the parts where they pay money. In other words, Obamacare, politically, is becoming like just about every other government program.
Ergo, John Cassidy’s assertion, in the New Yorker, that “It’s Time for Democrats to Embrace Obamacare”:
… Here’s a heretical idea. Rather than parsing the individual elements of the law, and trying to persuade voters on an à la carte basis, what about raising the stakes and defending the reform in its entirety as a historic effort to provide affordable health-care coverage to tens of millions of hard-working Americans who otherwise couldn’t afford it? Instead of shying away from the populist and redistributionist essence of the reform, which the White House and many Democrats in Congress have been doing since the start, it’s time to embrace it.
What would that mean? It would involve reaching out to the Democratic Party’s core voters—lower-income people, minorities, highly educated liberals—and portraying Obamacare as the fulfillment of the great human-rights project that began in the nineteen-thirties, under Franklin D. Roosevelt, and was expanded during the nineteen-sixties, under Lyndon Johnson. That message wouldn’t merely be more honest; it would be more effective in getting Democratic voters to turn out in November, which is essential if the Party isn’t to suffer a repeat of 2010… Despite the widespread belief that voters don’t like big government, G.O.P. candidates know, to their cost, that Social Security and Medicare are sacrosanct. Over time, universal health coverage will probably come to be seen in the same way. But it might not happen unless the architects of Obamacare stand up for it more vigorously…
About the only Democrat I’ve heard pressing this argument is Katherine Sebelius, the embattled Secretary of Health and Human Services. Many other Democrats, although well aware of the messaging problem, remain wary of being tagged as liberals and redistributionists.
In some districts, where Democratic candidates are busy wooing independents or Republicans, this is understandable. But in many races—and this is something that David Axelrod, President Obama’s former campaign strategist, acknowledged in his Florida postmortem—the key to victory is turning out the Party’s core voters. What better way to do it than by turning Obamacare into a great progressive cause, rather than something to avoid or be embarrassed about.