Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Will the Obamacare Mess Hurt Hillary?

The current and continuing problems with Obamacare have badly hurt his ratings and generated a flow of gleeful commentary by his critics. Obama, however, is in his second term. One possible interpretation of his many times repeated claim that anyone who liked his present coverage could keep it, a claim he knew would be proved false, was that it was an endgame strategy based on his knowledge that he would never have to face the voters again. That is not true for the congressional democrats who supported Obamacare, some of whom may well be defeated next year as a result. But what about the election after that? At the moment it looks as though Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic candidate. If so, how will she be affected?

Three different answers occur to me:

1. She won't be hurt. Her involvement with the administration was only relevant to foreign affairs, so she cannot be blamed for domestic failure.

2. She will be hurt. Obama's prize program was Obamacare. Hillary's, a few administration's back, was Hillarycare. While her supporters will argue that the two programs were very different, they were similar enough that support for the one will be seen as support for the other.

3. She will be helped. By the time she is running, the American health care system will be in a state of catastrophic failure. She will offer an alternative, probably along the single payer lines supported by many on the left.

My feeling is that the third alternative is the least likely, but I wish I could be more confident of that.


August said...

3 is likely. There is no one to draw libertarian/conservatives back in to vote. The race will be between two big government types, and the Republicans have no interest in actually fixing this thing- it is represents a fund drive for them and they'll probably keep the mess around longer than Roe v. Wade if they have any choice about it.
So, she can come up with something plausible enough to fool the remaining voters.

Tibor said...

Given that a lot of people (including a lot of people who vote) have a very vague idea of who does what in the government and even which department they are at, I think 2 is quite likely. The link between her and Obama is clear, since they are the same party. Also, people often simply take the politics as a whole. Even a decision by a republican governor that affects only a particular state will be by a lot of people seen as a consequence of the (federal) Obama's administration. And the risk of this mismatch is even greater if the two actors are both part of the federal administration and both in the same party.

Bruce said...

Seems to me Obama could fix his political problem with Obamacare's website with one highly publicized phone call. He said it would work like Amazon's website. He calls some high-profile Amazon executive: 'Hi, this the President. Your country needs you-' If the guy makes the website work, Obama takes credit. If he fails, Obama gives him the blame.

Tibor said...

Bruce: What if the executive refuses to participate on the grounds that the system is a mess and he wants no part of it? If Obamacare website really is this bad (naturally, since I'm not an American, I have no idea of my own...but also no reason not to believe so many sources that claim it is bad) it is the most prudent choice unless he is rewarded with enough money to compensate the loss of work reputation and that could be a lot considering that this is probably a highly publicized issue. Also, it would still mean that Obama admits doing a bad job prior to this and that he needs a private company manager to make it better. That goes directly against his "we are better at doing things together (i.e. through government)" rhetoric.

However, I would not say that for Obama it is entirely end-game scenario. He can still be a governor or a senator again, right? Of course, the second term of presidency is probably more valuable than these positions, so he was motivated to do something that would harm him a bit after he gets elected president for the first time and help him before the second elections. But now he again has an incentive (albeit weaker) to make himself look good again.

Bruce said...

Someone in Amazon would take the job. With White House publicity, they would be high-profile. The website is fixable.

Health care was a mess before Obamacare. A president with the administrative talent to plan an invasion (Eisenhower, would that you were with us at this hour- we have need of thee)could have drastically improved health care. Obama had no idea of the difficulty, no administrative background, no friends who are talented administrators, and no talent pool of talented administrators in the post-60's Democrats. So, no critics in his base. Obamacare makes a mess into a worse mess, but in the short run, Obama could still fix his website and declare victory. And in the long run Obamacare will merge with other health care fiascoes, and Obama's friends say all decent people respect Obama for ideological correctness. Are you a decent person? Sniff, sniff?

Tibor said...

Bruce: I guess that a website should be fixable, the question is if there is anyone willing to fix it (relatively fast) who is also capable of doing and is willing to do it for the money the administration is willing to give. Also, I am not sure if failure would be seen as a failure of that Amazon guy. Who is the president good for if his only work is delegating responsibility to other people? And when something is widely known as Obamacare, Obama can hardly weasel out of the political responsibility. After all, how many people do you think know who programmed the current version of the website? And even if they did know, would they blame bad programmers or bad management decisions of Obama? I bet the latter.

Max said...

I can't speak to the long-term effects since they haven't happened yet, but hypothetical polling match-ups between Hillary and other prominent Republicans indicate pretty clearly that she has taken a pretty big hit in the short term. She's now down 45-42 against Christie, up 48-43 on Paul, and up 49-41 on Cruz, whereas barely over a month ago those numbers were 39-44, 49-37, and 50-33, respectively. So there's been about an 8 point swing. That's pretty huge, given that we're talking about a period of less than 45 days.

Max said...

Oh, and those are PPP numbers btw, which is a Democratic polling firm. Sources: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2013/PPP_Release_US_110513.pdf


Brian said...

Isn't it possible that, as some of its problems diminish, the administration manages sway public opinion of ObamaCare into positive territory? The website should be in decent shape by election time, and maybe some health statistics will improve between now and then that will be touted as proving the success of the law. You assume everyone will have written it off as a failure by then, but I don't see it as a given.

Unknown said...

The only way that the public is going to turn towards supporting this policy is if their view of the value of the insurance they are now being provided improves.

This means that either prices will have to come down (remember the "Affordable" in "Affordable Care Act"?), or they will have to convince everyone that they are getting much more in return for their increased premiums.

The former is going to be close to impossible, barring some heavy increases in premium subsidy (good luck getting that through the GOP house), since adverse selection will take its toll in the coming years as young and healthy people opt out of ever increasingly expensive care and decide to pay the small tax penalty.

As far people deciding that the extra coverage mandates are a benefit for them? This is unlikely to occur but I expect those members of the media that support the administration and this policy to fully attempt to convince the people of this exact thing.