Ahead of a vote in the House that would defund portions of President Barack Obama‘s health care reform law, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland appeared on MSNBC to offer his party’s defense of the controversial law. In attempting to take a jab at Republicans, he revealed a rather inconvenient truth for Democrats – one that will be near impossible to overcome. Strickland said that the only aspect of Obamacare that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his Republican allies object to is the “Obama part.” Maybe so, but Romney is in good company; it is increasingly clear that voters feel precisely the same way.
“The only part of Obamacare that Mitt Romney and most other Republican leaders object to is the Obama part,” said Strickland. “The American people like the Affordable Care Act when you explain to them what it actually does. What they are being confused by is talk about liposuction and all this kind of crazy stuff. What we have in this country are millions of people without access to quality, affordable health care. Obamacare will provide that for them.”
This old trope has been a salve for Democrats’ self-inflicted wounds since the bill was passed – they tell themselves that so many aspects of the massive health care overhaul are popular and the only reason why so many consistently favor its repeal must be that there has been some deficit of salesmanship . Either that, or voters are “confused.”
Voters are not confused. Like the esteemed members of Congress, average voter are able to conduct a simple cost/benefit analysis when they form their opinion of the ACA. They do appreciate some minor aspects of the law. What they do not appreciate are the costs associated with it – notably, the increased taxes, the expansion of Medicaid, the necessarily increased costs that accompany the regulatory burdens placed on medical professionals in the device manufacturing sector (that will be passed along to consumers) and, most notably, the mandate provision.
Strickland’s superbly weak defense of President Obama’s health care reform law betrays just what a losing game it is to defend this law. A ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday, which incidentally shows Obama and Romney tied at 47 points each, also noted that support for President Obama on the issue of health care is down to 41-52. The ABC/WaPo poll notes that this is “a numerical low in approval, with no bump from last month’s Supreme Court ruling.”
Somewhat contradictorily, the poll shows a jump in support for the ACA – from an 18 point deficit in favor of those who oppose the law in April to a 47/47 tie today. How does one reconcile these contradictory numbers? With Strickland’s own contention – he said that the only thing Republican’s oppose in “Obamacare” was the “Obama” part. Well, it turns out that sentiment is shared by voters as well.
A Kaiser Family Foundation poll recently showed that independents think Congressional Republicans should halt their efforts to repeal the ACA by 41/51 margin. But those same independents are not warm to the law, nor are they supportive of Obama. Gallup shows Obama receives the approval of just 32 percent of “pure independents.” The ABC/WaPo poll backs that up – Romney is leading among swing voters by 53 – 39 points. Independents are not responding to attacks on Republicans on the argument that they should stop efforts to defund health care, despite their agreement with Democrats that they should.
Whatever you think of the health care law – and poling data is highly contradictory – the clear loser of this fight has been the party that has been forced to defend it. Strickland’s fumbling appearance on MSNBC is but one of what is likely to be future missteps.
Watch Strickland’s defense of the ACA below via MSNBC:
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