Aw, That's Cute: Republicans Dreaming About Using ObamaCare to Win in 2014

For a while now, I have argued that in 2014, the Democrats' most potent electoral weapon will be a fully implemented Affordable Care Act. By October, the health insurance exchanges will be set up all across this country, and people will be able to start signing up for coverage, with the help of the largest refundable tax credit for health care in history. This president has outsmarted Republicans and humiliated them time and again when they tried to play politics with people's lives. Republicans, of course, will never learn. They are readying attacks for 2014 just in case the man responsible for taking out Osama bin Laden and securing all of the world's loose nuclear material screws up while trying to implement his most prized domestic policy achievement.
“There are very few issues that are as personal and as tangible as health care, and the implementation of the law over the next year is going to reveal a lot of kinks, a lot of red tape, a lot of taxes, a lot of price increases and a lot of people forced into health care that they didn’t anticipate,” said Brad Dayspring, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “It’s going to be an issue that’s front and center for voters even in a more tangible way than it was in 2010.”
With spokesmen like these, is it any wonder that the people in charge of Republican senate campaigns keep introducing us to talents like Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell and Todd Akin? Not that it merits any sort of a serious policy response, but let's point out first of all that in 2014, Republicans will have to run against actual health care people are getting - people who never would otherwise get such care, and their families and neighbors and friends. Unlike 2010, Republicans will not be able to run against a caricature of Obamacare, they have to run against the real thing.

The president's people have fired back, succinctly:
“If they think they’re going to run the 2014 election on refighting the political battles of 2010, they’re going to fare very poorly,” said Dan Pfeiffer, Mr. Obama’s chief strategist. “We’re going to implement the law well, and we don’t worry.”

I am beginning to think that this now has less to do with political smarts (not that you should expect a whole lot of that from the party of birthers and climate change deniers), but with true believerism. The idea that the Republicans can ever run and win again by running against the Affordable Care Act is only marginally more plausible than the conspiracy theory that the moon landing was staged in Hollywood (obviously by liberals, but that's redundant). But that's exactly the point. The signal is directed far less toward a national audience and more toward the Republican primary voter, even if the New York Times insists on picking up the meme and some Democrats insist on being scared.

Look, the Republican party has run against the President's health care reform for three elections now: 2008, 2010 hand 2012. Did I say 2008? Yep, I did. Sure, there was no law yet, but the scare tactics were all the same about how the Kenyan Gay Muslim usurper would pull the plug on grandma so the .. ahem... welfare queens could get free government cheese... I mean, health care. The GOP has been running against health care for three election cycles and two of them have been catastrophic losses for them.

And frankly, the GOP should have figured this out by now. Their approach to opposing health care reform isn't much different from their rhetoric of opposing many other social legislation, including immigration reform and their fearmongering against the president himself. For a long time now, Republicans have been trying to win elections by scaring white people that minorities are getting too powerful and demanding a piece of "their" American dream.

There is nothing new under the sun. Nothing, that is, except the makeup of the American electorate. The Republicans' attempt to use white resentment got them 60% of the white vote in 2012, and they still lost the election in a landslide. From that election, the Republicans tell they learned that something needed to be done about immigration, lest they lose the vote of the Hispanic population the same way they lost the African American vote. Yet, they seem incapable of understanding why Americans of color, young people, LGBT people and women voted against them in droves last year: It isn't simply because we want a humane and effective immigration policy. It is because we want a different kind of society. We are tired of being pitted against each other and being told that we should resent others for getting a hand up while the elite rob our wages, our safety net, our safety and our wallets.

We rejected the GOP and embraced Barack Obama not because he looks like us but because he thinks like us. We do not believe that health care is a privilege tied to one's employment, but that it is a right of every single one of us. Contrary to GOP's scare tactics, we do believe that government has a positive role to play in preserving and expanding access to that right.

But they did do well in 2010, a midterm year, you say, running against Obamacare. Sure. The difference this year is two-fold: first and foremost, the policy reason: Republicans will have to run telling people they want to take their health care away. Second, the political reason: the Right wing had an ally in 2010 in smearing the newly passed health care law, namely the Left's radical reactionaries who decided to pout and scream on Fox News because they didn't get their public option pony. With the debate not being so fresh on the blogosphere on the Left, the faux-Leftists have lost their interest in capitalizing on this as it's no longer a money maker for them. Without that, Republicans cannot succeed on the strategy to depress Democratic turnout.

So if the Republicans want to come at us with Obamacare in 2014, I say bring it on. We will be able to tell voters that this president and his allies in Congress have brought an economy back from the wreckage of Republican destruction, while they can tell voters why it's the moochers' fault. We will run on actual health care reform actually helping millions of people gain and retain coverage, while they can run on why it should be taken away from those people because... Kenya! Or Death Panels! Or something like that. If that's how they want to fight this, they are even dumber than I thought.

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