Furor Over Health Law May Alter 2014 Campaign Calculus

Media outlets analyze the impact of public anger over the troubled implementation of the health law on prospects for congressional deals on immigration reform and the budget, as well as on 2014 election campaigns.

The Wall Street Journal: Health Law Fracas Leaves Congress In Limbo
Furor over the botched implementation of President Barack Obama's health care law has allowed Congress to engage in a familiar activity: procrastination. Prospects already were dim for substantial legislation in the dwindling days of 2013, but the headline-grabbing fights over the federal health exchange and canceled insurance policies have given House Republicans no incentive to change the subject. The issue has drowned out talk of an immigration overhaul, taken the focus off high-stakes budget talks and stalled efforts to rewrite the tax code (Peterson and McKinnon, 11/17).

The Associated Press: GOP Sees Health Care Law As Big 2014 Opportunity
In his West Virginia district, the TV ads attacking Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall over the calamitous startup of President Barack Obama's health care law have already begun. The 19-term veteran, a perennial target in a GOP-shifting state, is among many in the president's party who have recited to constituents Obama's assurance that they could keep insurance coverage they liked under the 2010 overhaul. ... Rahall was among 39 Democrats who, despite an Obama veto threat, voted Friday for a GOP measure that would let insurers continue selling policies to individuals that fall short of the health care law's requirements. ... Republicans are emboldened by Obama's reversal and the Democrats' scramble for cover (Fram, 11/16).

The Washington Post: Health Care Law Has Changed Game For Democrats Looking To 2014 Election
Few places may better explain how the bungled launch of President Obama’s health care law has scrambled the political landscape for Democrats than this hamlet north of Philadelphia. Democrats have been hoping to capitalize on the political fallout for the GOP from the recent government shutdown. If they can do so anywhere, it should be in the suburbs north and west of the city where three adjoining congressional districts represent a confluence of Democratic Party ambitions for the 2014 midterm elections. ... The recent debacle over Healthcare.gov's rollout may have narrowed whatever perceived advantages Democratic candidates may have had over Republican opponents. In some minds, the health-care law’s flubs have merged with the government shutdown to render an unfavorable verdict on all of Washington (O'Keefe and Kane, 11/16).

Meanwhile, a historical perspective --

The New York Times' Congressional Memo: Lesson Is Seen In Failure Of 1989 Law On Medicare
Angry Americans voice outrage at being asked to pay more for health coverage. Lawmakers and the White House say the public just doesn’t appreciate the benefits of the new health law. Opponents clamor for repeal before the program fully kicks in. The year was 1989, and the law was the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act, which was supposed to protect older Americans from bankruptcy due to medical bills. Instead it became a catastrophe for Democratic and Republican lawmakers, who learned the hard way that many older Americans did not want to be helped in that particular way (Hulse, 11/17).

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