The Healthcare Bill May Lead to Republican Electoral Disaster

The healthcare bill in congress is likely to lead to dire electoral consequences for Republicans. I write this because the bill has been depicted as benefitting the rich and result in much higher expense for everyone else. If that’s what happens or people believe will happen, Republicans will be punished.

There’s an argument out there that if Republicans fail to pass a healthcare bill or the one they pass has flaws then Democrats will share the blame. After all, the ACA was their bill originally. It’s flaws are due to them. Democrats spent President Obama’s Presidency taking credit for any positives in the economy while at the same time blaming President Bush for any negatives. People assumed that eventually Democrats would “own the economy” because at some point it’d only be their actions that were affecting it. They never stopped blaming George Bush and the public accepted that.

I disagree with that reasoning. First, the press is usually going to depict Democrats positively and Republicans negatively. They supported the idea that the economy was “all Bush’s fault.” Republicans won’t be so lucky on healthcare. Articles are out already that they are ruining it and they haven’t done anything. Democrats were actually held accountable for a lot of their actions and didn’t fare well during the Obama years. Even if America didn’t blame them for the economy they blamed them for other things.

Obamacare is now in effect, a far different situation from 2009. Back then Democrats were taking no government involvement and created a system with a lot of government involvement. The baseline was nothing. The baseline here is real.

I’m aware of Obamacare’s negatives. It was promised as a way to control health insurance costs and premiums have skyrocketed. People who don’t get subsidies avoid the exchanges because the policies on the exchanges are pricey, have high deductibles, and cover fewer doctors and hospitals. Insurers keep pulling out of Obamacare exchanges and that’s going to lead to, in some counties, one or no insurers on the exchange. Prices will rise even higher or people won’t be able to get a policy at all.

That said, there are plenty of people either getting their insurance through the exchange or in Medicaid expansion. In 2009 Republicans could be against these handouts. No one was getting them, so people didn’t have a problem. Once people get handouts, however, they get very angry if you take them away. They don’t care if it’s a bad plan or if it’s collapsing. They want their free/discounted stuff.

Democrats have created entitlements going back to FDR and Social Security. The philosophy has been that it didn’t matter whether they did the entitlement well or if it was sustainable. Once people had the entitlement Republicans wouldn’t dare take it away and would have to fix it. That’s true. It doesn’t matter how negative people are about Obamacare. Take something away from people and they’ll vote you out of office.

This plan is getting savaged in the media. They don’t believe Republicans when they say this plan will be better for people. The Democratic plan was treated well and Democrats got creamed at the polls. I can’t see how hearing that your health insurance will either go away or become a lot more expensive won’t influence people.

The Republican plan repeals the Obamacare taxes. That fits Republican philosophy but doesn’t fit where America is now, because these taxes are on people perceived as rich. It doesn’t matter if these people aren’t paying taxes and the rich pay a huge share. The perception is that they’re paying too much and the rich aren’t paying their fair share. While Republicans might get support for not passing new taxes on the rich they won’t get much for repealing taxes on the rich.

The perception will be that the voter will have worse and more expensive healthcare while the rich will benefit. That’ll be a disaster for Republicans at the polls in 2018.

Is there a way to avoid it? Republicans would have to propose a completely different plan for it to be one people view as positive rather than negative. Not passing a plan at all might be better for them but if Obamacare continues to implode I doubt they’ll let the Republicans off the hook for not stopping it.

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  • rdelbov March 12, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    1st politically if the Ds all line up against Obamacare you can certainly blame them for not repealing it. Clearly having any D votes would make passage easier.

    2nd would the repeal and replace bill as written been a political boon or a bust for the GOP? I am not 100% sure either way on this point. Certainly there will be winners and losers. One could certainly argue repealing the bill would help the economy. I can argue that at least. If the economy does well even as some voters would their subsidies and we see a flatting out of rate increases then yes it will be at worst a breakeven situation for the GOP. Can I see things going painfully wrong for the GOP–you bet.

  • Republican Michigander March 12, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    The problem I see tactically from the current bill is what I call doubleflanked. D’s don’t like it. Conservatives don’t like it since it’s too much like Obamacare. I read the bill. I don’t like it that much and would vote no on it if it is what is in the final form out of committee.

    There’s two things – and only two things – that are popular about Obamacare. Preexisting conditions and young adults up through 26 being on ma and pa’s plan (That’s a UAW influence). The rest is highly disliked up and down.

    I don’t know the limits about budget reconciliation. The “company line” is that “we need something that’s can get 51 votes in the senate and we won’t get 60.” The conservative base is “you promised to actually get rid of the f’ing thing, not this mealy mouth BS.” “But the fillibuster” “End the f’ing fillibuster. Reid would have.”

    Whatever does happen, the business as usual stuff needs to end pronto.

    MI-08 - Michigan is a red state again. We need a 50 state strategy and an 83 county strategy.

    • rdelbov March 12, 2017 at 8:33 pm

      The way that is it like Obamacare, as far, as I can tell relates to these four matters.

      1st it keeps pre-existing conditions and keeping insurance on kids to age 26.
      2nd it keeps some medicaid coverage for states/workers while eliminating new coverage for some people that would have qualified for medicaid under Obamacare in certain states.
      3rd it keeps some taxes and fees to pay for item #2 and item #4 below
      4th It gives a tax credit to some low income tax payers who had received a subsidy but now are eligible for a subsidy. (some call this an entitlement but why is that? A tax credit for people adopting a child is considered a great idea but not an entitlement but insurance credits are?)

      Frankly the majority of voters like all four of these ideas. Getting rid of the rest of Obamacare is also popular. So IMO it is all about message right now.

  • krazen1211 March 13, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    The political pundit class does this ‘pass this or else’ all the time.

    Back in 2013, it was ‘pass more and more unemployment’ or else we would lose the 2014 election, because all those unemployed folks would vote Democrat. Or it was ‘pass more and more amnesty for illegals’ or else we would never win another Presidential election again, because all the Hispanics would vote Democrat.

  • rdelbov March 14, 2017 at 11:49 am

    K I agree.

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