Politics & Policy

Democrats Against Obamacare

Moderate and conservative Democrats are splitting with the Left on health care.

Texas senator Ted Cruz’s 21-hour 19-minute soliloquy this week apotheosized Republican dissatisfaction with Obamacare. Likewise, the GOP House recently voted to finance everything in Washington, minus the so-called Affordable Care Act.

A real surprise lies behind these headlines: Democrats are falling out of love with Obamacare.

Last year, according to a Washington Post/ABC News survey, 68 percent of Democrats supported Obamacare. By July 23, however, only 58 percent of Obama’s fellow donkeys backed his chief initiative. Liberal Democrats’ approval of this law rose from 74 percent in 2010 to 78 in July.

But moderate and conservative Democrats have fled on health care. In 2010, as Obamacare careened through a Democratic Congress, 76 percent of center-right Democrats cheered, while 20 percent hissed. By last July 23, only 47 percent of those Democrats endorsed Obamacare; 46 percent disapproved. So, among middle-of-the-road Democrats (57 percent of those surveyed), net support for Obamacare is just 1 percent, the Washington Post and ABC News report.

Fox News discovered on September 17 that 56 percent of Democrats were “concerned” about their “personal health care under the new health care law.” (Forty-three percent were not.) Among Republicans, 77 percent were “concerned” personally about Obamacare’s medical impact on them; 22 percent were relaxed.

Obamacare generates merely polite applause even among black Americans, the cornerstone of Obama’s political base. “Eighty-seven percent of blacks approve of Obama’s job performance overall,” explained another Washington Post/ABC News study released September 20. “But just 48 percent support his signature health care law.”

This research echoes growing doubts about Obamacare among leading Democrats and the union bosses who love them.

‐“We’ve got millions of people — working-class, middle-class people — who are going to be pushed into a regulatory health coverage no man’s land,” Senator Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) warned last Valentine’s Day. “They are unable to afford the family coverage through their employer and ineligible for the subsidy that could be used by dependents on the exchange.”

‐On March 21, 33 Senate Democrats voted for a non-binding resolution against Obamacare’s medical-device tax. Illinois’s Dick Durbin, Minnesota’s Al Franken, and Maryland’s Barbara Mikulski were among those who decried this job-killing, innovation-crushing 2.3 percent levy on the gross revenues, rather than profits, of health-implement manufacturers. On June 7, 2012, 37 Democrats and 233 Republicans backed Representative Erik Paulsen’s (R., Minn.) bill to kill this cruel, senseless tax.

‐Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius conceded that Obamacare could cost people more money, not less. “These folks will be moving into a really fully insured product for the first time,” she said March 26, “and so there may be a higher cost associated with getting into that market.”

‐“I believe that the Affordable Care Act is probably the most complex piece of legislation ever passed by the United States Congress,” Senator Jay Rockefeller (D., W.Va.) lamented April 9. “Tax reform obviously has been huge, too. But up to this point, it is just beyond comprehension.”

‐In an April 17 candor attack, Senator Max Baucus (D., Mont.), a key Obamacare engineer, notoriously said, “I just see a huge train wreck coming.”

‐In an April 29 candidates’ debate against her ultimately victorious opponent, Mark Sanford (R., S.C.), Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch slammed Obamacare. Said the real-life sister of TV comedian Stephen Colbert: “Obamacare is extremely problematic. It is expensive. It is a $500 billion cost [more] than we originally anticipated. It’s cutting into Medicare benefits, and it’s having companies lay off their employees because they are worried about the cost of it. That is extremely problematic. It needs an enormous fix.”

‐WHEC-TV Rochester asked Senator Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) to explain rising Empire State health premiums. “It’s in part because of Obamacare,” he conceded May 3.

‐Representative John Larson (D., Conn.) complained that congressional staffers would be thrown into the Obamacare health exchanges. “‘Listen,” he said June 13  in Politico, “this is simply not fair to these employees.”

‐Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board “is essentially a health-care rationing body,” former Democratic National chairman Howard Dean, M.D., opined in July 29’s Wall Street Journal. “The IPAB will cause frustration to providers and patients alike, and it will fail to control costs.” The Hill reports that Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Representatives Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut and Ron Barber, Ann Kirkpatrick, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — Democrats all — have co-sponsored legislation to padlock IPAB. At least 22 House Democrats favor its abolition.

‐“The ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class,” Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa Jr. co-wrote in a July 12 letter to House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.). “The unintended consequences of the ACA are severe. Perverse incentives are already creating nightmare scenarios.”

‐Terence O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, announced September 11:  “If the Affordable Care Act is not fixed, and it destroys the health and welfare funds that we have fought for and stand for, then I believe it needs to be repealed.”

‐“My record on the health-care law has been crystal clear. I voted against it when it was first considered, have voted to repeal it dozens of times, and today voted to defund it,” said Representative Mike McIntyre (D., N.C.), one of two Democrats who stood with all Republicans but one to defund Obamacare on September 20. “The need for health-care reform is clear, but this law is not the right approach for our citizens, communities, and businesses.”

The fact that Democrats are cooling on Obamacare confirms that Republican senators including Cruz, Utah’s Mike Lee, Kentucky’s Rand Paul, Florida’s Marco Rubio, and Alabama’s Jeff Sessions are perfectly right to hammer this monstrosity mercilessly. Ditto the House’s defunders. Republicans relentlessly should showcase Democratic disenchantment with Obamacare.

The road away from Obamacare may be treacherous for Republicans. They should proceed wisely, but this is no time to go wobbly.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News Contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. Miami-based political analyst Paul Crespo furnished research for this article.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.

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