Republican interest groups are already gong after Kay Hagan. They believe they have a winner in tying her to Obamacare. In fact, opposition to the Affordable Care Act seems to be central to the GOP strategy up and down the ballot.
The North Carolina Republican Party is promoting a video hitting Hagan for promising “people who like their insurance and their doctors keep them.” At the state level, Pat McCrory and the legislative leaders have declared expanding Medicaid is not an option. As the N&O pointed out this morning, there’s no reason to reject the expansion other than politics. In essence, Republicans want to see the program fail.
It’s a risky strategy. Most people want health care reform and have for decades. The devil has always been in the details. Insurance companies sank Hillary Clinton’s attempt at reforming health care 20 years ago but the issue didn’t go away. Instead, it was one of the chief wedge issues that Democrats used against Republicans in the wave elections in both 2006 and 2008.
Obamacare may tank and then the GOP has made a good bet. But if the roll out problems are resolved and people begin signing up, the Congressional hearings, late night jokes and bad headlines will be a distant memory by October next year.
Instead, the attacks could be reversed. The ads write themselves. “As North Carolina struggled to recover from the worst recession in over 75 years, Republicans stripped way unemployment benefits, denied people health care and caused insurance premiums to rise.” And quotes about using the emergency room for health care just add texture to the argument. It’s a simple message, to the point and difficult to defend. They’re out of touch, putting politics before people.
As Gary Pearce said yesterday, it’s not about the issues, it’s about character. Republicans will look mean-spirited, petty and uncaring. They could afford to give tax breaks to the people who aren’t hurting but couldn’t afford to help the people who are.
However, Democrats themselves seem to be waiting for GOP failure. They should be making this case now instead of waiting for next fall. Their strategy seems to be hoping that everybody is paying attention and hating on the GOP. Republicans are certainly giving them an assist by shutting down the government and attempting to cut aid to poor people, including pregnant women and children, but that can change pretty quickly.
Most people aren’t following politics closely enough to understand the details. The Moral Monday protests may have put the GOP actions in the spotlight this summer, but memory of those times are fading fast for people who don’t follow politics and don’t read the newspapers or watch TV news but who vote on regular basis. Another session of the legislature with raises for teachers and money for schools could erase the memory all together.