Why the 2016 Senate Election Is Sure to Be About ObamaCare, Again

Mitch McConnell already announced how the GOP plans to retain the Senate in 2016: ObamaCare.


In his press conference today, he said that one tweak they’ll make to ObamaCare will be to eliminate the individual mandate, which is one of the least popular parts of the law. That will pass immediately, probably before the first January snowfall. It’ll probably, on that first go-around, even get a few Democratic votes.

Obama will then veto the bill.

Then the GOP will take it up — probably in the Senate — for an override vote.

Democrats will be faced with the choice of voting to uphold Obama’s veto. Or making the politically far more popular vote, helping the GOP to override Obama’s veto.

One way or another it’s a huge win for the GOP. If they override the veto, the Executive will have to jump through major hoops to make insurance attractive and affordable enough (ha) to keep enrollment high enough it works for insurers. If they don’t override the veto — meaning fewer than 12 Democrats vote to override it — then retention of the very unpopular mandate will be the issue the GOP runs on in every Senate race next cycle.

There are currently expected to be 10 Democratic seats up for reelection in 2016, so technically the Dems could free those 10 to vote with the GOP to help them avoid a very unpopular vote. But that doesn’t include several of the Democrats who are most likely to vote with the GOP on the mandate in any case (people like Jon Tester, for example).

In any case, it’s an obvious play for Mitch to do, and one with huge upsides for the GOP whichever way it turns out.

Mind you, by 2016, the benefits of ObamaCare will also finally be more evident (and if the GOP overturns Medicaid in states where it has vastly expanded coverage, especially KY and AR, that’ll be a huge issue for Republicans to defend against). But the GOP clearly intends to continue to make it an electoral problem for the Democrats.

8 replies
  1. TarheelDem says:

    Is this what replaces abortion as a wedge issue?

    The long term struggle over privatized health care financing, universal coverage, lower costs, and no new taxes. Studiously avoiding a solution in order to keep an campaign issue.

  2. GKJames says:

    Of course, between now and then, Democrats might actually want to work out a coherent message on Obamacare and its effectiveness, instead of running for the hills whenever the program’s mentioned.

    • bmaz says:

      That presupposes that Obamacare is effective. Which, if you split off Medicaid expansion and extended coverage for youth on parents policies, there is scant evidence for. The remainder, the exchange program, which is exactly what the mandate is central to, is a clusterfuck of immense proportion, and is little but a gift to carriers and their profit margins. As far as “effectiveness” sure you can point to fewer uninsureds, but that is doing nothing more than saying you have forced people to pay for something they cannot afford to use.
      Mandated health insurance is not the same thing as having actual health care. People are going to start figuring out that unpleasant little fact when they start realizing that they are spending all their disposable income on ever rising insurance payments and have none left, what with high co-pays and huge deductibles, to actually get the care they need and want. And that, coupled with the play the GOP is clearly going to run as Marcy describes in the post above, is going to insure that “Obamacare” is going to remain an albatross around the necks of Democrats, same as it always has been.

  3. Don Bacon says:

    Perhaps there is no coherent message on the benefits of the enforced purchase medical insurance except for the many corporations provided waivers?

  4. Anon says:

    And while the D’s and R’s are busy doing that public dance Obama and McConnell will work to expand the Patriot act, pass a few trade bills and quietly kill the torture report. Never mistake the light show for the actual dance.

  5. Ronald says:

    Again, the underlying assumption is that the GOP is the bad guy and Obama?
    Who’s going to call him a good guy these day?.
    But GOP wins have been his aim since just about day 1; or before day 1 when he appointed Geithner et al.
    Now he’s got his wish: full GOP control of Congress — for the foreseeable future?!

  6. galljdaj says:

    ‘big win for republicans… ,’ Not in my mind. The lowest number of voters says way more, like the 99% took 10 Giant Steps towards the Revolution!

    The start of Mass Sit Ins is the only alternative the Peoples have, i.e., to be sitting ducks for the military snipers now employed on the private guards of the very wealthy.

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