The problems facing the Affordable Care Act's implementation have given the law's critics no shortage of ammunition to take potshots at President Obama's signature legislative accomplishment. But to hear those critics tell it, the ACA's problems are an unfolding political catastrophe in which Democrats are poised to abandon ship and the law is just a hair's breadth from repeal. Repeal of the law is and always has been a fantasy, but right now it's being enabled by members of the mainstream press for whom the ACA's problems aren't serious enough and somehow merit embellishment.
Tea Party congressmen and conservative pundits have been keeping the repeal fantasy alive ever since the law was signed back in 2010. The backlash from the government shutdown, which was inspired by Tea Party efforts to gut the ACA, did nothing to dull enthusiasm for the "repeal Obamacare" crowd. "Obamacare will be repealed well in advance of the 2014 elections," conservative wag Steven Hayward wrote in Forbes on November 11. "There is a chance Obamacare could be repealed in a bipartisan vote," wrote Ed Rogers in the Washington Post. Congress "could try to vote now, under new conditions and with the American people behind them, to repeal the whole thing," Peggy Noonan wrote in the Wall Street Journal. "And who knows, they just might." No, they won't. And even if Congress did somehow manage to pass a bill repealing the ACA, it would in all certainty be vetoed by President Obama.
But this is what pundits and activists do: shape and spin stories to conform to their preferred outcome. The National Journal's Josh Kraushaar, rather than tamping down this irrational enthusiasm among the law's opponents, is giving it a leg up. "There's a growing likelihood that over time, enough Democrats may join Republicans to decide to start over and scrap the whole complex health care enterprise," Kraushaar writes in his November 18 column. Now, this is caveated to the point that it's essentially meaningless -- he's saying there's an increased chance of something possibly happening over an indeterminate time period -- -- but Kraushaar nonetheless wants us to think that repeal is a real threat.
The Politico falsely reported that "in a background document distributed by national Republicans," the National Republican Senatorial Committee "accuses" Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie "of having connections to ... the Communist Party of America." However, the NRSC "background document" to which the Politico presumably referred did not accuse Ritchie of "connections" to the Communist Party USA -- claiming only that "[t]he Communist Party USA wrote encouragingly of his candidacy" -- and insofar as the document's reference to the Communist Party USA suggested a link to Ritchie, it did not back up the suggestion with any evidence.
Reporting on advertising buys by the National Republican Congressional Committee "and GOP allies," the Politico's Josh Kraushaar cited an ad that refers to Sen. Barack Obama's "ranking by National Journal as having 'the most liberal voting record in the U.S. Senate.' " But Kraushaar did not mention that a respected, comprehensive vote study contradicts the National Journal's ratings, which were based on "99 key Senate votes" selected by Journal staff members.