Starting today, Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers’ propaganda arm, will run an ad, the first of several that are planned, to attack Obamacare. This marks the official opening salvo of the 2014 election campaign. With no accomplishments, no remotely popular vision of the country, on the cusp of possibly killing immigration reform, and perhaps admitting (at least to themselves) that Benghazi and the IRS are not going to be Barack Obama’s undoing after all, Republicans have been reduced to grasping at their final straw: frightening people about health-care reform. The sad thing is, they stand a decent chance of succeeding. It’s too much to say that the fate of Obama’s legacy hinges on the fate of Obamacare. But it’s probably not too much to say that no other single item will loom as large in determining, 10 to 15 years from now, how Obama’s presidency will be seen. And it’s definitely accurate to say that this is going to be the consuming and defining fight of the remainder of his presidency.
The debut Koch brothers ad is very smart. They’re not shooting for the expected geriatric caucus, or even for the middle-aged couple singing the kitchentable blues à la Harry and Louise. No—here, we have a young mother, pretty (not perky pretty but interesting-looking pretty; she might read books, might even be a liberal) and self-assured. She is “Julie, mother of two.” She speaks of her son “Caleb’s” health issues as a toddler (Caleb!). She’s also pregnant—great touch, that. I don’t know if she’s real or an actress, but if real, I guess I congratulate them for finding her, because they couldn’t have done better making it up.
She goes on to voice her concerns about Obamacare, starting with that old chestnut “If we can’t pick our own doctor…” Nonsense. Conservatives, when asked to defend this, do so by explaining that, well, if A happens and then B and then C, it could … in other words, it’s a Rube Goldberg answer that no one should take seriously. Then there’s “higher premiums and a smaller paycheck.” I don’t know where the “smaller paycheck” comes from (maybe she works for the government and has been furloughed two days a month). But as for the premiums, well, yes, increases are possible. But something beneficial is happening in exchange for those higher rates: sick people who couldn’t previously get insurance will be able to get it now, and more types of medical services will be covered and reimbursed. If you actually want to learn something about this interplay between premium increases and coverage, readthis report from the state of California.
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