by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Democratic Party is riding to President Trump’s rescue on healthcare with talk of repealing Obamacare and eliminating private insurance in favor of a government system that has drawn the skepticism of American voters.
The move could offer a political lifeline to Trump. His stubborn commitment to “repealing and replacing” Obamacare, once a winning message, has left him vulnerable on healthcare — a key voter priority. A Democratic nominee who also proposes junking Obamacare, albeit by different means, could hand the issue back to Trump and strengthen his hand in critical electoral battlegrounds.
Democrats struggled for nearly a decade after Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law to gain the upper hand on healthcare, finally being rewarded by the voters in the 2018 midterm elections after years of suffering electoral losses. Now, a few of the party’s leading presidential contenders propose junking Obamacare and the private insurance market under the guise of “Medicare for all.”
“If people want private insurance, they should have that choice. I think that’s the smarter position,” veteran Democratic strategist Joe Trippi said. “It just blunts any Republican ability to move on healthcare at all.”
The 2009–2010 debate over the legislation that became the Affordable Care Act, and then enactment and implementation of the law in the subsequent years of the Obama presidency, arguably cost the Democratic Party control of the House and Senate, plus nearly 1,000 seats in state legislatures across the country. Public opinion began to turn after Trump took office and Republicans, then in full command of Congress, pushed to repeal and replace Obamacare.