A Tea Party member reaches for a pamphlet titled "The Impact of Obamacare", at a "Food for Free Minds Tea Party Rally" in Littleton, New Hampshire in this October 27, 2012.
Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

Right starts to see ‘Obamacare’ everywhere, on everything

Shortly after Hillary Clinton unveiled her plan to make college tuition more affordable, Republicans started looking for ways to attack it. This suggests the GOP’s talking points still need some work.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the conservative American Action Forum, said, “It will be Obamacare for higher education. All that is missing is the individual mandate.”
Let’s put aside for now what a shame it is to see what’s become of Douglas Holtz-Eakin, once one of the Republican Party’s most prominent wonks. Instead, let’s consider the GOP’s increasingly unhealthy fixation.
 
There’s a scene in “Being John Malkovich” in which John Malkovich crawls into the head of John Malkovich (long story). Suddenly, he’s stuck in a nightmare in which Malkovich is everywhere and everything.
 
Republicans appear to be experiencing a similar nightmare, only instead of seeing an acclaimed actor everywhere, they see the Affordable Care Act.
 
A plan to help young people go to college is “Obamacare for higher education.” Common Core standards are “Obamacare for K-12 education.” Net neutrality is “Obamacare for the Internet.” Dodd/Frank financial-regulatory safeguards are “Obamacare for banks.” Efforts to reduce carbon pollution are “Obamacare for energy markets.” A Senate proposal to consolidate government lending practices would be “Obamacare for real estate.”
 
I honestly don’t remember the last time a party became so needlessly hysterical like this. It’s not as if Democrats ran around Washington in 2005 saying, “Bush’s scheme to privatize Social Security is the Iraq war for entitlements.”
 
If the ACA were actually failing on a systemic level, it might be a little easier to understand the right’s increasingly creepy preoccupation. If the Affordable Care Act were an actual disaster, naturally conservatives would try to take advantage of a failed brand.
 
But as the Huffington Post reported yesterday, “Obamacare” is proving to be extremely effective in delivering health care benefits to Americans.
The share of Americans without health insurance has dropped sharply since enrollment under the Affordable Care Act began in 2013, according to survey results published by Gallup on Monday. And the law’s effects are even more dramatic in states that cooperated with the federal government instead of fighting Obamacare.
 
Nationwide, the uninsured rate fell from 17.3 percent in 2013 to 11.7 percent through the first half of this year, following two years of sign-ups for private health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges and for expanded Medicaid benefits, the pollsters found…. Seven states now have uninsured rates below 5 percent: Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa and Hawaii. Each created its own health insurance exchange and expanded Medicaid. Prior to this year, Massachusetts was the only state with an uninsured rate that low.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin would have us believe Clinton’s higher-ed plan will be “Obamacare for higher education.” The trouble is, for many of us, that means the plan will exceed everyone’s expectations, deliver on each of its key goals, and leave far-right predictions of failure looking ridiculous.
 

Affordable Care Act and Obamacare

Right starts to see 'Obamacare' everywhere, on everything