How Race Informs The Obamacare Fight

Nancy Folbre digs up an AP survey on racial attitudes taken just before the 2012 election:

28 percent of respondents believed that [Obama’s] policies had made black Americans better off, compared with only 15 percent who believed they had made white Americans better off.  I don’t know of any analysis of the president’s economic stimulus program – or any other policy – purporting to show that blacks benefited more than whites. …

Respondents predisposed to believe that a black president will try to benefit blacks more than whites are likely to view the Affordable Care Act through a racial lens, which helps explain the results of a recent Pew survey showing that almost 91 percent of blacks currently approve of the law, compared with 29 percent of whites.

Relatedly, TNC recently argued that the ACA is likely to benefit African Americans less than other groups:

When President Obama leaves office there will almost certainly be efforts to ascertain the impact of our first black president on the black community. Defenders of the president’s record will likely point to Obamacare as the kind of program that expanded the safety net for everyone but specifically for those in need — a class in which African Americans are overly represented.

I have, of late, been anxious to add an asterisk to this accolade. As I’ve noted before, black people are also disproportionately represented in many of the states which are refusing the Medicaid expansion. Thus the idea that Obama has aided poor black people through a broad race-blind expansion of the social safety net deserves some scrutiny.