by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
It is likely that ObamaCare’s low point hasn’t been reached. The year 2015 is shaping up to be the ACA’s worst yet. A confluence of events will have significant implications for the law’s ultimate disposition and may give the law’s opponents their best chance to date to relieve the American people from some of its most crushing burdens.
First, and most obvious, the ACA will face the implacable opposition of GOP majorities in both houses of Congress for the first time since its passage in March 2010. These majorities came about as a result of successive midterm elections. The first, in 2010, won the GOP the House of Representatives and was largely about the Affordable Care Act; indeed, fully one-third of the Democrats’ losses in that election can be attributed to voter dissatisfaction with the health-care law.
The recent 2014 midterm elections saw a wave that carried Republicans into the Senate majority. ObamaCare was a major factor in this election as well.During the key preelection weeks of October 6–12 and October 13–19, ObamaCare was the No. 1 issue in Republican ads. In those two weeks, Republicans ran more than 23,000 anti-ACA ads, outstripping the second leading topic by 25 percent. And, as Jeffrey Anderson pointed out in the Weekly Standard, in the week of October 6–12, beleaguered Democrats actually supplemented the GOP’s anti-ACA message with 500 anti-ACA ads of their own.
Nearly half of the 2014 voters (48 percent) thought that the ACA went “too far,” compared with only 21 percent who thought it was just right. Discounting those who thought the ACA did not go far enough (just about all of whom, it could safely be said, voted for the Democrats), the voters who might have even considered voting for GOP candidates were overwhelmingly against the ACA and its deleterious impact. As of the first of this month, 29 senators who voted for the Affordable Care Act are no longer in the United States Senate; this number includes 15 who were voted out in favor of Republicans. Overall, since its passage, the GOP has gained a net 14 Senate seats and 70 House seats.
The elections proved, yet again, that the politics of health care do not favor the Democrats (a history I detailed in an April 2010 article for this magazine entitled “Health Care: A Two-Decade Blunder”). Following the elections, even Senator Charles Schumer, a usually loyal member of the Senate Democratic leadership, felt the need to acknowledge that the pursuit of Obama-Care had harmed his party politically. “Unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them,” Schumer said in a well-publicized speech. “We took their mandate and put all our focus on the wrong problem—health-care reform.”