Let’s stipulate that Obamacare, barring a dramatic reversal in the next 11 months, will be a difficult issue for Democrats in 2014. The most pertinent questions then become: To what extent, and how? What groups of swing voters will turn against Democratic candidates in 2014? New data provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which conducts a well-regarded monthly poll on the Affordable Care Act, suggests the party should worry most about white women.
— Half of blue-collar white women surveyed in November were “very unfavorable” about the law, while just 16% of them either regard it “very favorably” or “somewhat favorably.” And the discrepancy has grown worse since the October rollout of the law, which brought a cascade of problems and negative media reaction. In October, 40% of the women without a college degree had a “very unfavorable” view of the law, while 27% of them had an overall favorable view.
— Meanwhile, half of white women with a college degree don’t like what they see from Obamacare either, the poll found. That’s a dangerous sign for Democrats, because that’s one of the few groups of white voters with whom they still perform reasonably well. President Obama, for instance, won 46% of them in 2012 — and he underperformed relative to recent Democratic presidential candidates.
— The real problem for Democrats during next year’s midterms, of course, is they need strong white female support to survive Senate reelection fights in overwhelming white states like Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana. The data suggest that the party’s candidates face an uphill climb on that front.
Democrats insist that they can still win the Obamacare argument by highlighting their attempts to fix the law rather than repeal. The idea has merit, but the law’s deepening unpopularity puts them at a disadvantage from the get-go. And, as the Kaiser poll shows, that’s especially true with a key part of their political coalition.
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The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has released its score of the House-passed American Health Care Act, which would replace Obamacare. According to the CBO, the bill would reduce the deficit by $119 billion by 2026, while leaving 14 million more Americans uninsured in 2018 than under current law, a number swelling to 23 million by 2026. Further, insurance premiums would balloon 20 percent in 2018 and five percent in 2019 before the waiver provision in the legislation would kick in. The provision allows states to apply for waivers and permit insurers to offer skimpier plans, which would likely entice younger and healthier individuals to buy health insurance while potentially pricing older and less healthy Americans out of insurance plans. House Republicans approved this bill in late April without waiting for the CBO score.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing that President Donald Trump's budget is little more than recycling bin material. "The budget proposed by the president doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of passing," Graham said. Graham had previously opposed the budget over its nearly 30 percent cut to the budget of the State Department. The budget slashes spending on domestic priorities while increasing military spending.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that he doesn't yet know the formula towards gaining passage of an Obamacare replacement in the Senate. "I don't know how we get to 50 (votes) at the moment. But that's the goal," McConnell said. The House passed an Obamacare replacement bill which has been widely seen as dead on arrival in the Senate, and McConnell has put together a working group of Republican Senators working towards creating health care legislation which could gain the support of at least 50 Senators.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."