Blame It On Obamacare, Ctd

The ACA is getting scapegoated. Suderman expects this to continue:

The instinct for the White House and its defenders will be to protest that most of these changes in employer coverage are a longstanding part of the existing market, that they happened before Obamacare, and that the law isn’t the cause of every health insurance woe in the nation. Obamacare, they’ll say, is responsible for the part of the system that’s getting better, not the part that’s staying bad.

But Democrats will have a hard time selling this argument to a skeptical public. Partly because it sounds awfully self-serving, taking all the credit and none of the blame. Partly because the impression has already sunk in that Congress doesn’t understand the real-world effects the health care law is having. But mostly, however, because President Obama has already lied about who the health law will affect, and how. For lots of Americans, it won’t be easy to trust the president or his party on the subject again.

Philip Klein makes related points:

Given that the law was sold as a way to fix a broken health care system, rightly or wrongly, the law is going to be blamed for any persistent problems.

It’s impossible for Americans to sort out whether a given change took place as a result of the law or whether it would have happened anyway. If they don’t like a change to their health care situation that occurred after a giant new law went into effect, they’re going to blame that giant new law.

If I were a vulnerable Democrat incumbent in 2014, I wouldn’t want to pin my re-election hopes on being able to convince angry voters that changes that they hate would have happened with or without the health care law. “Correlation doesn’t equal causation” is not exactly a winning campaign slogan.

Barro thinks this is why the GOP hasn’t come up with a real alternative to the ACA:

Liberals chose to reform health policy despite the political risks, because their political coalition includes the people who are most extensively screwed by the health policy status quo. Conservatives have decided that cynicism is a better political strategy, for the reasons Klein inadvertently lays out. They’re probably right on the politics, but that’s nothing to be proud of.