We are all familiar with the spectacle of a dog frantically chasing a car, which strikes us as stupid because, after all, what on Earth would the dog do with the car if it actually caught it?
That’s basically what we’re witnessing with the Republicans’ monomaniacal war on the Affordable Care Act:
The GOP’s message may well evolve between now and November, but the most tangible early indicator — advertising spending by conservative groups against Democratic candidates — shows how intensely it is focusing on the health-care law.
“It has been the predominant focus of both our grass roots and our advertising efforts,” said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, the primary political operation of a donor network backed by billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch.
Of the roughly $30 million the group has spent on ads since August, Phillips said, at least 95 percent has gone toward spots about the health-care law.
Democrats have been tracking that spending to help gauge what their candidates will be facing.
In Senate races, where control of the chamber is on the line, all but $240,000 of the $21.2 million that super PACs are spending on television advertising has gone into attacks centered on the health-care law, said Matt Canter, deputy executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The exceptions were ad buys in three states that criticized Democratic senators for supporting President Obama’s judicial nominees.
There is a lot of polling data about ObamaCare, and you can pick and choose which numbers you want to focus on. I like the fact that 57% of self-proclaimed independents think we should either keep the law as it is or make improvements to it, versus 33% who think it should be scrapped. I don’t like that 29% of voters say that they have been negatively impacted by the law versus 17% who say that they have benefitted.
Overall, you could fairly say that the law is slowly becoming less unpopular. This is a victory in itself, considering how much money the Republicans have spent on trashing the law, and how little money the Democrats have spent defending it. If the law were to become popular, the Republicans’ entire midterm strategy would collapse.
As I’ve noted in recent days, the Republicans are so focused on using ObamaCare as a weapon in the midterms that they don’t want to take on tax or immigration reform because either issue would divide their caucus and take the country’s focus off their war on health coverage.
But, I think the public is going to notice that they are like the dog that chases the car. If you elect them to dismantle ObamaCare, they will have no solutions. They can’t do better than ObamaCare no matter what they would like you to believe. Their proposed reforms would cost more money, insure less people, and take away plans from people who like their plans. Everything they claim not to like about the law, they would make worse.
So, while I am nervous about the differential in firepower and resources being dedicated to arguing about ObamaCare, I think the Republicans are putting all their eggs in one basket full of lies and distortion and that we ought to be able to outflank such a clumsy, plodding, charge.
[Cross-posted at Booman Tribune]