I published some work recently (along with the ACA-Effects Posse of Nyhan, Sides, McGhee, and Greene) suggesting that voting for health reform was very costly for House Democrats in 2010, causing them to run 5-6 points worse in the November elections and quite possibly costing them control of the chamber. Well, there's a flipside to this, it turns out. The New York Times reports that two conservative House Democrats -- Reps. Jason Altmire and Tim Holden of Pennsylvania -- lost their primaries earlier this week largely because of their opposition to health reform. So they might well have lost their seats to Republicans in November 2010 had they supported the bill. Instead, they lost their seats to other Democrats because they voted against it. Sucks to be them.
Alert readers, please be on the lookout for other Democrats who opposed ACA and are now facing primary challenges as a result.
I read that Holden, at least, was running in a newly drawn district that only covered 20% of his previous district. I'm sure it would be difficult to control for his in a quantitative study (I'd be very interested to hear you spectulate as to how), but it's certainly something to keep in mind when assessing the cause of his defeat.
Thanks for the great blog.
I'm reluctant to call it the Affordable Care Act, as it has directly resulted in soaring healthcare costs. Not surprising, with specific parts of the law such as the one forcing medical equipment makers to raise their prices.\
Obamacare is a fair name. I am pretty sure, but not entirely, that the name was thought up by a Democrat. And the Obama campaign is using the name "Obamacare" in its campaign information.
Soaring health care costs? Quite the opposite, actually.
Also, no, Republicans were the ones who started calling it Obamacare, although Obama has recently tried to reclaim the name.
Unfortunately the story is a little more complicated than that.
1) Critz-Altmire was an incumbent vs. incumbent matchup, one of whom voted against the ACA the other said he would have voted against it had he been in Congress at the time. But labor pulled out all the stops for Critz, so he won, despite only having represented ~30% of the district previously.
2) Cartwright, although his challenge was vaguely from the left, in fact began his campaign saying that he too opposed Obamacare, implying that it had not gone far enough. Once his challenge gained traction he flip-flopped, no doubt in an effort to reassure progressive party actors and secure their support. And as anonymous notes, Holden represented relatively of the new PA-17, which is 8-9% more democratic than the previous version.
9% is a significant increase in costs:
"Cong. Baldwin specifically promised the healthcare bill would reduce healthcare costs for millions of people, but since this legislation has been signed into law, costs have risen by 9 percent and the average premium has risen by $1,300."
Obamacare was coined by the Hillary Clinton campaign.... the same campaign which launched the "Obama is a Muslim" meme in emails.
And here is information on how Obamacare has had the opposite of the claimed effect of reducing the uninsured.
The question is not by how much health care spending increased over the past two years. It's been increasing faster than inflation for decades. The question is how much it was increasing relative to other years, and as the Times story shows, the increases in '09 and '10 were historically low.
Meanwhile, I doubt one could ever identify who first coined the term "Obamacare." (And Wiki Answers is hardly authoritative!) Like "Hillarycare" or "Reaganomics," the term was kind of a natural emergence. Probably hundreds of political operatives and journalists converged on it independently as soon as Obama started mentioning health reform in his presidential campaign.
Still, the excessive increases (on top of the growing ranks of uninsured), some as a direct result of "ACA" policies (such as the specific one forcing medical equipment makers to hike their prices) are making healthcare less affordable for sure. Not more.
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