Daddy, Why Do They Hate Obamacare?

October 2nd, 2013 at 8:45 am

Are you reading Ed Porter’s Economic Scene columns over at the NYT?  Because you should be—they’re consistently well-crafted, muscular, reality-based, topical arguments on econ current events.

In today’s column, Porter takes a closer look at a point that you frequently hear these days: why does the extreme right hate Obamacare so much?  As I noted the other day, I’ve lately run into people asking me that same question, including my 14 year-old (imagine being a kid trying to make sense of the grown-ups’ world right now…ugh).

A common, and correct, answer to this is that the law expands the scope of government, and once it’s in effect, its beneficiaries will like the security it provides them and their families, making it harder to destroy.  Porter adds another important angle to this analysis, by considering more closely who the law will help most and why that matters.

That is, while the Medicaid expansions (in the states that accepted them) clearly target the poor, the subsidies that will make coverage more affordable for those without insurance through their jobs target the broad middle class.  And that’s a group that a) has seen persistently negative wage and income trends, b) is the target of few social benefits (e.g., they’re ineligible for Medicaid), and c) is a critical voting bloc.

As Porter notes, “the law has many provisions that are likely to improve life for millions of Americans, including a big portion of what we know as the working middle class.”

Almost two-thirds of uninsured Americans have a full-time job, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. A further 16 percent are employed part time.

The Department of Health and Human Services recently estimated that nearly six in 10 uninsured Americans could qualify for health coverage in the insurance market for less than $100 per person per month.  [That price includes the subsidy—JB]

According to an analysis by the Urban Institute, 28 million Americans would gain health insurance under Obamacare. Of these, eight million earn more than twice the poverty level of $47,100 for a family of four. A majority of those would get a subsidy to buy a plan.

As it turns out, the core Tea Party demographic — working white men between the ages of 45 and 64 — would do fairly well under the law.

So, while there’s definitely some folks gettin’ their crazy on, there’s also method to their madness.  And for those on the other side of that divide (which is not a partisan statement—there are conservatives who value affordable health coverage), in these dark days for governance and public policy, it’s even a touch uplifting to contemplate the fact that the ACA might actually help a lot of people who’ve been battered by unfavorable economic trends and policies for decades.

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11 comments in reply to "Daddy, Why Do They Hate Obamacare?"

  1. jhm says:

    This might be a cogent explanation for why ACA was so vehemently opposed in the beginning, if one adds the fact that opposing Obama was reason enough on its own. At this juncture, however, those who beat the drums against the idea cannot now repudiate their erstwhile opposition, and this gets harder and harder to do, as the low information voters who have listened to them, and voted in response, would likely never do so again (albeit this might not mean they would suddenly become Democrats).

  2. ks says:

    I am a statistician trends show that people like the affordable care act but hate Obamacare, which are obviously the same healthcare law to an educated citizen and voter, clearly these people just hate Obama and anything Obama does, lets just face that reality instead of rationalizing and make excuses for their inevitable and innate hate.

    • Jane Figueiredo says:

      hate, hate, hate…and namecalling — it seems that’s all the Democrat party is left with. Whatever silly idea currently resides in the liberal brain- like “people hate Obamacare but love the ACA” suddenly becomes truth you can use to feel superior to those who have real problems with the ACA. Just push those problems out of the way without addressing them-it’s fast, its easy and you don’t have to think.
      I just received my latest 9 page letter from the government about what I must do immediately-or face fines. It ruins every Christmas for me. It’s none of their darn business what I do about my health insurance and when.
      Adding an extra layer or three of bureaucracy doesn’t improve healthcare, friends. The 100,000 or so ACA Navigators are paid $29-$48/hour for providing no health care and they also sit at Mexican Counsulate offices offering free health care to Mexican citizens.
      Then let’s ignore this headline: “43 convicted criminals are working as Obamacare navigators in California, including many with records of significant financial crimes” These navigators make up to $100,000/year and have no college degrees, pass no comprehensive exams like enrolled agents are unaccountable and use public facilities for free. Anyway, their primary job in Texas, according to one, is to “turn the state blue.” which is why Wade Rathke connected organizations, have received over $1 million of federal money to propagate their frauds.
      Why should hardworking plumbers, pipefitters, office workers, or anyone else have to pay for this baloney?
      Adding an extra layer or three of crooked bureaucracy doesn’t improve healthcare, friends. Im sure you will ignore all this-chalk it up to a “Michigan Militia” kook (another bit of looney liberal fear mongering.)

  3. Peter K. says:

    I would rather be with the party that increases support and appeals to people by providing services and public goods; by helping with immigration reform and benefiting from demographic trends than be the party that’s goal is to limit the franchise and exclude people as what’s happening in North Carolina.

  4. smith says:

    Please do not imply it’s mostly the extreme right hating Obamacare, or just the extreme right willing to take extreme measures. There is an element of fear by a minority pressure group affecting the entire Republican party. Don’t blame Boehner, no one in the Republican party is willing to stand up to the more vocal members, just as no one in the 50’s stood up to McCarthy, including a popular president.

    Boehner’s dilemma:

    A mainstream conservative economist blaming Obamacare for the country’s woes:

    There is an element of personal animus against Obama, as surely as there was by liberals during the Nixon, Reagan, and Bush II administrations (and of Clinton by conservatives).

    Finally, no Democrat including Obama, ran for election or re-election highlighting Obamacare, and the economy is still hurting, weakening the Democrats, who still concede House control in future elections. Perhaps a shutdown can change that.

  5. rjs says:

    i agree with ks; there is a hatred for obama and anything with his name on it; it’s that simple…

    listen to talk radio late at night…700 AM cincinnati, 750 AM atlanta, 760 AM detroit, & right across the radio dial…

    there is a widespread & visceral hatred of obama & anything he or michelle does that makes the news….you can hear it in their voices..

  6. purple says:

    The inability to acknowledge this law is going to have negative as well as positive effects damages the posts argument.

    Some, perhaps many, people are losing their employer-sponsored health care and being told to move into Obamacare. And Obamacare is just a lot worse than a typical employer-sponsored health care plan, it has terrible deductibles and out of pocket costs.

    There is a reason the law is unpopular, people are not all just dumb or fanatically opposed to Obama.

    There is a strong argument its benefits outweigh its negatives, most especially the Medicaid expansion.

    However, if Obama keeps letting the Senate leader be the figurehead in this argument, the Dems stand an excellent chance of losing. He’s just tone deaf.

  7. Michael C says:

    The animus against Obama has a major factor to do with Republican obstructionism, but let’s be honest: any Democrat in the White House would get this kind of treatment. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking Hillary Clinton or Al Gore would be treated better or with more civility. This isn’t about partisan politics, this is straight-up, one-flew-over-the-cukoo’s-nest land, except every tea party republican is trying to out-Nurse Ratchet everyone else. Their ideology is closer to a religion because a) it rests on a set of beliefs that must be accepted as true, without question and b) anyone who opposes their beliefs (good reasons or bad) is an other, the enemy, and thus not ‘good’ like them. They are closer to suicide bombers because they don’t care who they take with them in their destruction. They seem heroic because, in the echo chamber of their cocoons, that’s who they keep telling themselves that’s who they are. The ‘heroes’ follow the party order, the traitors and enemies are the ones who oppose them. This is worse than McCarthyism because the enemy isn’t outside, its strictly and utterly within this time. If you aren’t Republican, you are the Other.

  8. smith says:

    Mainstream conservative economist, head of Harvard Economics Department and regular columnist at the New York Times, posts again on Obamacare, arguing it raises marginal rates* by 10% for 1/2 of all working age, median income households

    *Tax rates include forgone subsidies.

    Again, I give this as evidence to claim it is not the “extreme right” that poses the primary opposition to Obamacare. The extreme are just the most extreme. They help move the entire argument in their direction. As such, they are a useful tool of the right and rich, even if they occasionally get out of control.

    Regarding the asterisk, is that even remotely ok to claim forgone subsidies are a tax? For example, would that include or exclude a tax of $405/week (in New York) for forgone unemployment benefits? Is that claimed to be different from health subsidies because it only lasts 99 weeks, vs. health benefits continuing for incomes near poverty line?

    Disincentives to work, how subsidies and benefits are reduced is an important topic. But adding the figures to marginal tax rates? Is that honest?

  9. PeonInChief says:

    I’m not in love with Obamacare, as it’s more a subsidy to the corporate interests than it is to the rest of us, but at least one reason the right wants to stop it is that many of their constituents will benefit from it. Many of the most vociferous opponents come from states with relatively low incomes, and jobs without any benefits, health or otherwise. That population will get a heavy subsidy, and will come to see Obamacare as a really good thing.

    • c c says:

      I work in healthcare. The affordable care act is just a shell game. The cost is actually going to be paid by the American middle class. My premiums have increased 50% this year. By next year who knows by how much. This does not include the increase in taxes for those who pay taxes. This problem will also be exacerbated by hospitals closing. Medicare sets the rates of reimbursements for services which insurance companies follow. Over the past few years these rates of reimbursements have decreased. Soon many hoospitals will go out of business. Healthcare in America will decline. It will not matter if you need medical assistance or not, there will not be a hospital to treat you. Good luck. Hope you have a medical background to care for your loved ones.