News / USA

Health Care Major US Election Issue

Health Care Law Major Issue in US Electioni
X
Jim Malone
April 07, 2014 8:26 PM
President Barack Obama’s controversial health care law will be at the center of the political debate during this year’s U.S. congressional midterm election campaign. Despite early problems, the White House recently announced more than seven million people have signed up for health insurance and that has some Democrats breathing a bit easier about their re-election hopes in November. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has more.
President Barack Obama’s controversial health care law will be at the center of the political debate during this year’s U.S. congressional midterm election campaign.  

Despite early problems with implementation of the law, the White House recently announced more than seven million people have signed up for health insurance and that has some Democrats breathing a bit easier about their re-election hopes in November.

At a recent Obamacare sign-up event in Los Angeles, volunteer Elliot Petty was pleased with the turnout.  “You know it’s really going great today.  People are really hungry for health care.”  

The White House has been quick to seize on the good news about the health care law, well aware that nervous Democrats are anxious to find the political silver lining in what has been a difficult roll out period for the complex and divisive law.

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found the country split on the health care law, 49 percent in favor and 48 percent opposed.  That poll result should encourage Democrats since past readings have put support for the law closer to 40 percent in many surveys.

President Obama was quick to seize on the good news about the sign up figures at a White House rally with supporters of the law.  “I will always work with anyone who is willing to make this law work even better.  But the debate over repealing this law is over.  The Affordable Care Act is here to stay!”

Election Year Battle

Republicans say the debate is not over and they have not stopped trying to either repeal the law outright or force some serious changes.  They also see the ongoing debate over the law as a major factor in their favor come the November elections.  

“I can give you hundreds of letters from my constituents who have been harmed by this law,” says House Speaker John Boehner.

Despite the fact that the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, it remains a constant topic of debate in both the House and Senate.  During recent Senate floor speeches, Republican John Thune of South Dakota charged the health care law “continues to wreak havoc on job creation”, while Democrat Richard Durbin accused Republicans of only wanting to kill the law, not improve it.  “Not a single Republican has been willing to sit down and work on bipartisan compromises and changes.  Not one.”

Both parties are continually trying to assess the political impact of the health care debate on the November elections.  Republicans continue to believe Obamacare will work to their benefit because it will motivate their conservative base to get out and vote.  Carroll Doherty of the Pew Research Center says there is some evidence to support that theory.  

“Well it is an animating factor for the Republican base.  With turnout being so important this is an issue that I think does really get people upset and excited, especially on the Republican side.”

But Doherty also notes that after years of debate there has been no sea-change in terms of public support for or opposition to the law, and that could limit the impact of the issue in the November balloting.  “The overall approval numbers have remained remarkably stable over the four years of the health care law.  It has not moved a lot.  I doubt if Republicans are going to pay the price for making this an issue, but I think it will mainly work to energize their own base.”

The Democrat’s Challenge

President Obama and his Democratic Party allies in Congress may have a tougher task in convincing the public the health care law has overcome its early problems and will benefit the country.  A number of Democrats worried about their re-election bids in the House and Senate are putting some distance between themselves and the law, even as the White House and Democratic National Committee highlight the recent surge in signups.

Trying to convince the public the Affordable Care Act is a net positive only adds to the Democrat’s challenges for 2014.  The party controlling the White House usually loses seats in midterm elections during a president’s second term, says analyst John Fortier of the Bipartisan Policy Center.  

“I think the two biggest factors underlying a midterm election are; how is the economy doing, and how is the president in the White House doing?  And ultimately midterm elections don’t go very well for the president’s party, they tend to go against it.  And if the economy is worse, it’s even worse.  And if the president’s unpopular, it’s even worse.”

The president’s popularity has hovered near some record lows in recent months, often in the low 40’s in terms of public approval.  That has made some Democrats nervous about their prospects in November as well and many of them are hoping for some sort of political rebound for the president in the months ahead.

Most of the focus in this year’s midterm battle will be on the Senate, where Republicans appear to have an excellent chance to gain the six seats necessary for them to claim a majority.  Several vulnerable incumbent Senate Democrats are running in states that supported Republican Mitt Romney in 2012, and a recent Supreme Court decision further broadening the reach of wealthy campaign donors should also help Republican candidates this year.

Fortier predicts it could be late on election night on November 4th before we know which party controls the Senate, but he says it is probable that Republicans will make gains in both the House and Senate.  “I think we will be wondering whether they get to 50 seats or 51 seats, but there is a reasonable chance for Republicans to eke out a majority in the Senate as well as holding their majority in the House.”

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid