Monday, March 22, 2010
Obamacare: 59 Percent Against. Next: Repeal or Reform?
Republicans are rushing to demand repeal of Obamacare, even before it is signed into law on Tuesday. Some top GOPers already calling for repeal include Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Jim DeMint. No doubt many more will be eager repealers, even millions more; Americans For Prosperity has set up a petition site, here. Indeed, a new CNN poll shows 59 percent of Americans against the bill.
But as CNN's Rich Barbieri observed about his poll, that 59 percent is inflated by opponents from the left, as well as the right:
Roughly one in five of respondents who said they opposed the bill did so because it was not liberal enough, and those people are unlikely to vote Republican. Take them out of the picture and opposition to the bill because it is too liberal is 43 percent.
Still, it's easy to see voters across the spectrum punishing the Democrats for a) the way the bill was enacted; b) the likelihood that the Senate will leave at least a few of the egregious provisions in the bill, thus making the House look worse than it already does; c) the reality that more time-bomb provisions will be discovered; and d) the way that the Democrats will manage its implementation in the months and years to come. Those four factors--does anyone doubt for a second that the anti-abortion-funding Executive Order, in particular, will be shot full of holes?--as well as other negative factors, most obviously the economy, will make it likely that Republicans will win the Congress back in 2010, and the presidency in 2012.
But it won't be so easy, or so popular, to achieve an outright repeal of Obamacare. We might consider, for example, this taunting chart, shown above, produced by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
Yes, people will be fired up against Obamacare, but will they be as whipped up against coverage guarantees? Against filling in the "donut hole"--that is, providing more help for seniors to buy their prescription drugs? Against covering young people? Republicans are looking forward to more Chris Christie/Bob McDonnell/Scott Brown-type elections in 2010 and beyond, but they should not forget the elections of 2006 and 2008. Public opinion is fickle.
One who seems to sense this instability of public opinion is Sarah Palin. In her Facebook post, she thundered against "detached and imperious government" and "corrupt deals," but her "clarion call" to action fell short of calling for complete repeal:
We must look to November when our goal will be to rebuke big government’s power grab, reject this unwanted “transformation” of America, and repeal dangerous portions of Obamacare that will bury us under more Big Government control.
Note the key modifier: "dangerous portions of Obamacare." By that formulation, the portions of Obamacare that are deemed not dangerous will survive. Whatever happens, Palin is giving herself plenty of leeway.
America can do much better than Obamacare. That's been the argument of Serious Medicine Strategy all along. But if Republicans want to benefit from popular energy against Obamacare and the sort of rationing/restrictionist mindset at the core of the bill--and benefit from it long term, as opposed to just a one-off jolt--they will have to come up with a better healthcare plan of their own, and sell it to the American people.
And the beginning of a better plan is the realization that cures are cheaper than treatment, and that a thriving domestic healthcare sector could also be the medicine chest for the world.
UPDATE: From The Wall Street Journal on Monday afternoon, US Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue minimizes prospects of repeal: "Chamber Won’t Push for Health Repeal."
And in Tuesday's Journal, the edit page makes this point:
Many Republicans are already calling for "repeal" of ObamaCare, and that's fine with us, though they should also be honest with voters about the prospects. The GOP can't repeal anything as long as Mr. Obama is President, even if they take back Congress in November. That will take two large electoral victories in a row. What they can do now is take credit for fighting on principle, hold Democrats accountable for their votes and the consequences, and pledge if elected in November to stop cold Mr. Obama's march to ever-larger government.
Two elections in a row, minimum. Which is to say, it won't be good enough to win on a backlash in '10. Republicans will need an agenda for '12.
Posted by James P. Pinkerton at 5:10 PM