Obamacare an Election 'Tsunami' Threat for Dems?
With election year 2014 underway, Democrats face a tough battle: how to convince the country the health care law isn't a disaster for millions of people who were happy with their old insurance.
One Democratic lawmaker, Sen. Dick Durbin, ran in to trouble with the numbers this weekend, when he told CBS's "Face the Nation" Obamacare is responsible for adding millions of new Americans to the health care rolls.
"Ten million Americans have health insurance today who would not have had it without the Affordable Care Act. Ten million," he emphasized.
"And we can also say this: it is going to reduce the deficit more than we thought it would," he said. "We were seeing a decline in the growth of the cost of health care, exactly our goal in passing this original legislation."
But the Washington Post "Fact Checker" labeled the foundation of Durbin's remarks "ridiculous," saying the "vast majority of enrollees were previously insured."
Republicans were also quick to counter Durbin's optimistic claims.
"Well, I can tell you that Senator Durbin can spin this all he wants, but I hear it from my constituents. They've been writing me, concerned about higher health care costs, losing their plans or their doctor, and also just concerns about a disastrous rollout, gross incompetence," Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., told "Face the Nation."
However, Democrats said that when Americans see the law at work, voter fears will subside.
"What we are going to see, I think, is that, first of all, costs are much less than we ever predicted them to be. So, it's actually costing us less," Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., told "Fox News Sunday."
"Health care costs have been driven down," he continued. "There's now more health facilities available in our communities. People are using emergency rooms less -- all that is going to be positive on our economy."
But if it's not positive, or if voters don't think it's positive, Democrats run the risk of facing a single issue tsunami in November's congressional elections. Republicans need to gain six seats to take control of the Senate.
"In almost every case, the numbers that we're now looking at -- whether it's the cost of insurance, the people that are uninsured or the people that just simply aren't working full time - is a bigger number and a harder-to-deal-with number than anybody who voted for this law thought it would be," Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., told "Fox News Sunday."
"I didn't vote for it," he said. "I don't think that it has the capacity to work. But all the numbers as they come out exceed the bad news that had been anticipated."
For now, Democrats hope the exemptions granted to businesses and some individuals will help put off much of the debate for the next elections.