Friday, June 29, 2012

Ezra Klein Gets it Wrong on ACA SJC Win

      He was on Rachel Maddow last night and is basically arguing that "nothing has changed." Saying this makes no sense. Is he claiming that it's no different now than it would have been had the Mandate been struck down?

     Unless this implausible scenario is what he means he is obviously wrong. He seems to be very impressed-as many pundits are-that the GOP is now going to get to run against it. Indeed many pundits are saying the same exact thing Sarah Palin wrote yesterday that this is a great thing for the Right because "now people see it."

     Sure, I really buy into this silly causistry that Obama would be in a stronger position had the Mandate been struck down. Sure. It's like the doctor telling me my cancer is in remission is also bad news. After all I'm going to die anyway.

    Yet this is how Klein seems to be arguing. If Romeny wins, Klein reasons, he can dispose of it. In fact it won't be as easy as Romney makes it-'first thing I do is repeal and replace.' This is in contradiction with his promise to abolish Planned Parenthood-an organization he and his wife Ann Romney belonged to in the 90s-first thing. What Ezra seems not to get is that Romney even with a GOP Senate can't kill the whole ACA by reconciliation.

    What's interesting is that the media is trying minimize the strength of the President's victory. So we have pundits-"even" liberals like Ezra-claiming that "nothing has changed" because if Romney wins he'll repeal it, though he can't actually totally do that right away as we saw above. Then we hear other pundits saying 'well the American people aren't focused on this anyway. They care about jobs. Independents don't care either way.'

    If this is true than how have the GOP gained the great gift we keep hearing about? Where Ezra really goes wrong is his claim that the ACA is unpopular so it will be tough for the President's campaign with the GOP attacking him on it. He fails to appreciate the Bandwagon Effect.

    What I mean by this is that the dirty little secret is that while some of us are political junkies and we eat and sleep this stuff and we're partisan Democrats and liberals and of course you have similar people among the Republicdans and conservatives, the average media person is nt a political junkie. Even less so the median independent.

    Most Americans agree with the President and the Democratic party on most important issues. However, the tpical, or median voter may agree with the President and like the President but they are also easily discouraged. They see him attacked and not fight back-this was true in the first two years. Since the debt ceiling farce he's been much better-he's learned his lesson.

    But in the first two years Americans saw the President under fire and keep offering more olive branches after the Repugs kicked  him in the teeth again and again. And he acted shamefaced about ACA. It was a catch 22 to be sure-the more the polls seemed to show it's unpopular the more his adivsors urged him to distance himself from it, but the more he distance himself from it the worse the polls were.

    However things have changed now and this Klein is not factoring. His problem is that he's not factoring in any rise in poll numbers for the ACA based simply on it's success. The point is now Obama looks effective. Now the fruits of what he's fought for are becoming more tangible. So I'm guessing you may start to see the poll numbers increase for the ACA.

    Ezra thinks they won't improve until more people start to benefit from it and that this won't be in time for the election. My argument is that the simple fact of it's success will improve public morale for it in general.

    In some ways so far the polling of ACA has bee frustratingly similar to the question of abortion. Most people do think abortion should be safe and legal-though they have conditions on it. However they like to think of themselves as being "pro-life." So those who call themselves "pro life" are somewhat greater than those who call themselves "pro choice."  Yet in fact most people think it should be safe and legal and certainly don't agree with the radical anti abortion laws a la Bob McDonnel in Virginia-inciidentally Eric Cantor is now  showing some struggling poll numbers due to a backlash against extreme anti abortion laws in Virginia.

     Similarly most people think they don't like the ACA but actually like all of its provisions. My guess though is more people will start to like ACA as a whole. Seismic shifts in public opinion do happen. In 2009 52% of Americans thought that immigration is mostly a negative thing; now only 41% do while almost 50% think it's a net positive.

    To be sure that took three years Ezra might argue but how about gay marriage? Everyone thought that Obama was risking losing Black votes by supporting gay marrigage but what happened instead is that Black people started supporting gay marriage. It's astonishing how much public opinion among African Americans have shifted in such a short time.

    So don't let them tell you this is not a real positive for the President. They're just trying to hoodwink you yet again. Their only hope is to discourage the Dem base.


  1. I disagree with you on this one. Romney and a Repub congress can effectively kill the ACA by reconciliation. What stops them ?

    Also the majority can get rid of any rules they like before the New Session Starts....removing any obstacles.

  2. Bill I think you're mistaken. They can underfund it in certain aspects but not repeal it entirely through reconciliation which is just budget appropriations:

    "Congress can’t repeal the full law through reconciliation. Without the necessary 60 votes in the Senate for full repeal, Republicans are pledging to use a budget reconciliation bill to undo the ACA. But this process would only apply to the budget-related elements of the law and would thus leave many portions — including the mandate — intact. As health care expert Robert Laszewski put it, “Romney could end up creating a chaotic environment driven by enormous uncertainty over just which parts of the new health care law would be implemented–for consumers, health care providers, and insurers.”