Obamacare: The Final Battle
Republicans have to explain why it’s bad — and explain it soon.


Avik Roy

Though Republicans are likely to hold Arizona and Indiana, Massachusetts and Nevada are going to be tight. Senator Scott Brown is tied with Elizabeth Warren as of the latest poll in Massachusetts, and Senator Dean Heller is up by only one percentage point against Democrat Shelley Berkley. If Republicans were to lose both of those seats, they would have to win six of the Democrats’ eleven to get to 50, and eight to get to 52.

And that won’t be easy either. Debbie Stabenow and Sherrod Brown are up by double digits in their respective races. Hawaii and Connecticut are long shots. That leaves Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

In those seven races, as of the latest polls, Democrats are up in Florida (by 1), North Dakota (by 1), Virginia (by 1), and New Mexico (by 5). Republicans are leading in Montana (by 2); Tommy Thompson is up 8 in Wisconsin, and nearly every potential Republican challenger is leading Senator Claire McCaskill in Missouri.

I don’t want to get into a technical discussion of the various polls’ methodologies and precision; I outsource that to Jim Geraghty. The bottom line is that conservative activists need to realize the stakes, and get active in one or more of these races.

The message
Every reader of National Review knows why Obamacare is bad. It will expand the deficit, a problem that John Roberts’s opinion makes materially worse. It rations Medicare. It forces between 17 and 25 million more people into Medicaid, a program with some of the worst health outcomes in the world, in which people die of toothaches because they can’t gain access to care. It raises taxes by more than $500 billion over ten years.

But there is one aspect of Obamacare that, above all others, will matter to the broadest swath of American voters: the degree to which the law drives up the cost of health insurance. And this is the message that opponents of Obamacare must hammer home.

When President Obama was campaigning in 2008, he repeatedly promised that Obamacare would reduce, on an absolute level, Americans’ health premiums. “We’ll start by lowering premiums by as much as $2,500 per family,” candidate Obama said in October of that year.

But the opposite has happened. In 2011, the average family health plan cost $15,073, a jump of $1,303 — 9.5 percent — from 2010, the year that the president signed Obamacare into law. Over the same period, median household income increased by only 4 percent, from $49,445 to $51,413. That means that, for the average family in 2011, health premiums amounted to a staggering 29 percent of household income.

Imagine if the amount you paid in taxes last year went up by 9 percent, even though your income barely budged. That’s what’s going on with American health insurance under Obamacare, and it’s going to get worse. Why? It all comes down to the economics of insurance.


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