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October 01, 2009

Post Reform Politics

The fate of healthcare reform is unavoidably tied to the attempt to accurately predict it’s political reception once enacted. And there seems to be some shortsighted hand wringing. As Greg Sargent sums it up,

A spirited debate has broken out over that question. Chris Cillizza says that Republicans won “the message war” because Dems lack an effective “attack dog” to counter GOP attacks. The DNC’s Brad Woodhouse counters that Dems are “already winning.”

The question is not just a matter of backward-looking punditry. It could have real-world impact. Dems who believe they decisively lost might be queasy about embracing ambitious reform going forward.

. . . .

It’s rarely discussed, but the GOP, too, is courting political risk. If Dems successfully enact reform, and Americans decide they like it (not the first time this has happened), Dems could retroactively paint the GOP as hostile to progress, as Bill Clinton did with GOP opponents of his successful economic plan.

It’s too early to predict this fight’s impact on 2010. Dems may yet sustain big losses. But for now the big picture is that reform is steaming ahead. The public wants it to happen, still sees Dems as driving the train, wants them to keep it hurtling forward, and — though this is anything but assured — may well be happy once it arrives at its destination.

For me, the smart money is on the proposition that reform is going to be wildly popular—even, perhaps, among tea-bagging paranoids.


Because its enactment will be followed by a huge, multi-million dollar advertising campaign designed to convince Americans, insured or not, that their lives are just about to get better, healthier, happier, and more secure than they have ever been. And the bill for this campaign will not be picked up by MoveOn, the DNC, or nervous Blue Dogs. The virtues of “ObamaCare” will be aggressively promoted by all those insurance companies we’ve been—rightfully—demonizing the last few months.

The passage of healthcare will create an enormous new market of (somewhat involuntary) consumers—especially in states like, say Arkansas and Louisiana. In order to survive in this new market environment (i.e., sustain or increase their existing market share) insurance companies will need to aggressively advertise to compete with one another. Their message is predictable:

“The new law means that you and your family can finally afford the healthcare you deserve. And at Acme Health, your family comes first . . .”

After a few weeks even Republicans will be touting their contributions to reform.

Posted by stevemack at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

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