Healthcare continues to be bad politics for Democrats
As I wrote at Forbes yesterday, New York Senator Charles Schumer has placed the blame for the Democrat’s disastrous defeat in this fall’s election squarely at the feet of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).It is a big loser for Democrats that they keep pushing despite its unpopularity. It is why Obama had to lie about keeping your current healthcare and doctor. The trouble with lies is that they eventually catch up with you on issues like healthcare. From Hillarycare to Obamacare the Democrat push for government healthcare has been a majority maker for Republicans.
Speaking at the National Press Club the other day, the third-ranking Democrat in the US Senate said that whatever the merits or demerits of health reform, it was bad politics.
About 95 percent of all voters have health insurance, Schumer said, and the vast majority of those like the insurance they have. By contrast, most of the uninsured don’t vote. Only a third of them are even registered to vote.
Although Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic insiders expressed surprise and disagreement with Schumer’s observations, the underlying facts have been well known (if only intuitively) by Democratic candidates for decades. How else can you explain the odd history of health care and the Democratic Party?
National health insurance has been in the national Democratic Party platform forever – okay, at least since the 1930s. Yet there have been only a few instances when Democrats in office made any serious effort to deliver on that promise. For most of the last seven decades, congressional Democrats made no serious effort to insure the middle class uninsured. They even voted against Republican proposals to give tax deductions or tax credits to people who buy their own health insurance.
The exception to this pattern is the ability of the self-employed to deduct their own health insurance costs. Congressional Democrats supported this exception, or at least didn’t block it, although the self-employed are overwhelmingly Republican. But when it came to proposals to extend the same tax relief to people who ordinarily vote Democrat, Congressional Democrats had no interest whatsoever.
There have been only a few occasions when Democrats have made any serious effort to reform the entire health care system. Prior to Obamacare, the last effort was Hillarycare. And that was when Democrats discovered something some of them may not have already known: The uninsured do not lobby. They do not make campaign contributions. In fact, they don’t even vote!