The man in charge of House Republicans’ campaign efforts said Friday that Obamacare will be the defining issue of the 2014 midterms, but he declined to predict how many seats his party will win next year.
“I believe it more now than ever,” Rep. Greg Walden, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told reporters during an event hosted by The Christian Science Monitor. “Now that it has become a category 5 political hurricane, it is not just causing havoc in certain regions of the country, it is ripping apart every region of the country.”
On Thursday, President Obama announced that insurance companies could continue to sell existing plans for one year even if the policies don’t meet the law’s standards. People losing their insurance, combined with the inability of many consumers to purchase new health plans on malfunctioning Obamacare websites, have fomented a backlash from the public.
Walden said House Democrats, like the president, needed to apologize to the public for the canceled policies. Regardless, he said, voters will punish them at the ballot box next year. “If you don’t like your Democratic House member, you don’t have to keep him or her,” Walden joked, quoting a radio host friend of his.
The NRCC chair demurred when asked if his party would win seats, but he said the GOP “clearly has the ability to gain seats — a net-gain seats — in 2014.”
Democrats had boasted after last month’s government shutdown that they were in a prime position to gain seats in the lower chamber, in and of itself an impressive feat during a midterm election where the president’s party traditionally loses seats. Walden acknowledged that the shutdown was not well received by the public, but said there was a key difference between that and Obamacare: Eventually, the government was funded.
“The thing about Obamacare is it continues on,” he said.
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Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.