Jason Stanford, 9/6/2012 [Archive]

How Democrats Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Obamacare

How Democrats Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Obamacare

By Jason Stanford

You may have missed the biggest news to come out of the Democratic National Convention. I'm not talking about Michelle Obama's bravura performance, Julian Castro's sparkling debut on the national stage, or CNN contributor Erick Erickson tastelessly calling the whole thing "the Vagina Monologues in Charlotte."

And it's certainly not the Democratic Party's ham-handed flip-flopping on whether to mention God in the party platform. A party's platform keeps the activists busy but has zero effect on how a politician campaigns or governs. If you start attaching poll numbers and campaign checks to a platform, then we'll talk, but until then you won't find a more politically useless document this side of the sports section.

The biggest news no one is talking about from the Charlotte convention is that Democrats are talking about Obamacare on national television in front of God and everyone just like there's nothing wrong with it. After Democrats lost control of the House in 2010 because of Obamacare, seeing Democrats brag about Obama's signature legislation is as shocking as seeing Hillary Clinton fire up a bong on stage to promote marijuana legalization.

In his keynote, Castro bragged about Obama "expanding access to good health care." Newark Mayor Cory Booker said, "You should be able to afford health care for your family."

Another mayor, Chicago's Rahm Emanuel, made the strongest case for Obamacare as an example of the president's political courage. And he should know—Emanuel was Obama's chief of staff when the president passed health care reform despite the obvious political cost.

"President Obama took office knowing full well that for the last century, presidents had tried to reform our health care system. Today, because of President Obama's courage, kids can stay on their parent's plan until they are 26. Insurers cannot kick you off your policy because you have hit your limit. They will not be able to deny you because you have a pre-existing condition. Because of the president's leadership, every American will have access to affordable, quality health care. That was the change we believed in. That was the change we fought for. That was the change President Obama delivered," said Emanuel.

When did supporting Obamacare stop being a suicide mission? Early in 2011, a majority of Americans wanted to repeal Obamacare. Now, recent polls show a majority opposes repeal. The Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Health Care for America Act shifted public opinion, but what has done more to help Democrats find their voice is that the law is starting to go into effect. Insurance companies that spent too much on administration sent rebate checks to policyholders. Small business owners got tax breaks. (I know. I'm one of them.) And women discovered that they no longer needed to pay co-pays to get their birth control.

It wasn't a one-day blip. On Wednesday, Sen. Barbara Mikulski made a feminist case for Obamacare because it outlawed the practice of insurance companies charging women 50 percent more than men.

Cecile Richards, the executive director for Planned Parenthood Federation of America (and a former client of mine), touted Obamacare requiring "insurance coverage for birth control" without a co-pay "no matter where we work."

"Thanks to President Obama, being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition in America," said Richards, daughter of the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards.

In prime time, former Pres. Bill Clinton was at his wonky, folksy best when he listed the benefits Americans are already getting from the Affordable Health Care for America Act. "So are we all better off because President Obama fought for it and passed it? You bet we are," said Clinton.

During the Revolutionary War, the British military officers sang "Yankee Doodle" to mock the rag-tag American troops whom they served with in the French and Indian War. American troops appropriated the mocking tune as a source of pride during the Revolutionary War, and we know how that story ended.

Clinton noted that Republicans are mocking the Affordable Health Care for America Act when they called it Obamacare. Just as the vanquished British troops came to hate the song they invented, Republicans will rue the day they linked the increasingly popular health care law to Barack Obama.

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©Copyright 2012 Jason Stanford, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Jason Stanford is a Democratic consultant who has helped elect or re-elect more than two dozen Members of Congress. He lives in Austin, Texas. You can reach him at stanford@oppresearch.com or follow him on Twitter @jasstanford.

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.




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