Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz did her best to ignore the polls and disregard recent election results in recent comments downplaying the importance of Obamacare in the coming midterms.
“When I go home, and I’ll broaden it out to colleagues who I’ve spoken to, the Affordable Care Act is not the first thing that people in a town hall meeting are asking about, “ Wasserman-Schultz said at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. “They’re asking about investing in education, focusing on continuing to create jobs, making sure that we can make housing more affordable – the bread and butter, kitchen table issues that will add to the confidence that Americans have that this economy is continuing to improve.”
We largely agree with Wasserman-Schultz’s thesis. Americans, including young adults, are concerned about kitchen table issues. For us, we’re worried about being able to pay off our student loans, find jobs after college, and pay our bills. But Wasserman-Schultz seemingly fails to realize two things: We currently don’t have much confidence that things will improve and a large part of that is because of Obamacare.
Take, for instance, the recent results of a poll conducted by USA Today/Pew Research, which found that Americans are “saddled by angst over the economy” and “skepticism about the health care law.” USA Today reports:
By more than 2-1, 40%-17%, they assess the nation’s economic conditions as poor, not excellent or good. That’s essentially unchanged from a year ago.
Nor is there evidence of increased optimism about the future. One in four predict economic conditions will be better a year from now, but another one in four predict they will be worse. Half don’t expect it to change.
“I think the economy is getting better, but slowly — too slowly,” says Ronald Moore, 65, of San Francisco. “It’s just at a standstill.”
A large part of that analysis is the disastrous impact that Obamacare is having on the economy and job market.
A January poll found that nearly half of small-business owners said they had to curb their hiring plans because of the health care law. Another one-third of respondents actually said that they were forced to make staff cuts in order to keep their doors open. The Wall Street Journal, who profiled several small-businesspeople following the poll, reports, Obamacare is forcing some tough choices:
Mr. Cain [who owns five grocery store franchises] says he’s worried that his company’s health-care costs may become unmanageable. He’s currently covering roughly 35% of his staff, which he says puts his total 2014 health-care expenses at about $290,000. He adds that many of the stores’ workers are already covered under a spouse’s plan. Indeed, Mr. Cain himself is covered by a state health plan through his wife, a retired schoolteacher, that he says he tapped a decade ago for surgery on a shoulder ailment brought on by years of unloading trucks. The others have chosen not to pay for coverage, “because they can’t afford it,” he says.
Another study, conducted by the Congressional Budget Office, found that Obamacare could shrink the workforce by 2 million people. CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf testified in February that the plunge in workers is because “the Act creates a disincentive for people to work.”
And last week yet another damning study on Obamacare, this time by the National Federation of Independent Business, finds that just one aspect of the law—the health insurance premium tax—could reduce private sector employment by as much as 286,000 jobs.
The study finds that the tax, which was originally designed to target insurers, will ultimately be passed on to consumers. And we’re not talking small dollars here. Under Obamacare, a gradually-increasing, pre-determined amount of revenue is collected each year. All told, the total tax hike will be roughly $134 billion through 2023.
“If the HI premium tax takes effect, the vast majority of small businesses currently providing insurance will see their premiums increase beyond what they would have without the tax,” the study finds. “For a small business owner who does not self-insurance, this increase in premiums will be borne by both the employer and the employee, each of whom contributes toward financing the insurance.”
Fewer workers, reduced hiring, and lost jobs. If those aren’t “bread and butter” or “kitchen table” issues then what are? Ms. Wasserman-Schultz and her fellow Congressional Democrats better rethink their Obamacare messaging strategy if they truly want to have a chance in November.