It is always noteworthy when a lawmaker breaks what seems to be the “Cardinal Rule” against speaking out against one’s own party, particularly when it regards the party’s signature accomplishment. The Obama administration cannot possibly be pleased with the assertions made by Representative Stephen Lynch (shown, D-Mass.) about the healthcare law, which stand in direct opposition to statements made by the president about the very same law.
On April 17, readers may recall, President Obama announced during a White House news conference that the healthcare law "is working.” Yet during an interview with the Boston Herald, Lynch did not hesitate to criticize the law when he said the worst of the Affordable Care Act has yet to be seen.
“There are parts of Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, that were postponed because they are unpalatable,” he told the Herald. “As these provisions come into effect, the administration thus far is saying, ‘Gee, we really can’t handle this right now so we’re going to delay it.’”
Lynch referenced the “Cadillac tax” that goes into effect in a few years and taxes employer health plans over a certain value, asserting it will be “the first time in this country’s history that we have actually taxed health care.”
“Any individual with an individual healthcare plan that exceeds $10,200 is in a Cadillac plan situation,” Lynch explained. They’re going to have to pay — that employer, if they provide that, and many do today let alone in 2018 — will have to pay a 40 percent tax on the amount over the minimum established — excuse me, the maximum established under the Affordable Care Act.”
Even worse, Lynch notes that it is very unlikely to see ObamaCare repealed with all the Americans who have signed up for the law’s exchanges.
As a result, he contends that Democrats will be hit hard by the fallout resulting from the law. “We will lose seats in the House,” he said. “I am fairly certain of that based on the poll numbers that are coming out from the more experienced pollsters down there, and I think we may lose the Senate.”
Lynch, reports Mediaite, is the “only member of Massachusetts’ all-Democrat congressional delegation to vote against the 2010 healthcare reform law.”
Ironically, while Lynch’s remarks can be easily perceived as a direct admonition of the president and the 111th Congress that passed the law, Democratic pollster Celinda Lake believes that it is in the best interest of Democratic lawmakers to distance themselves from the unpopular law.
“In terms of Obamacare, don’t defend it,” Lake urged in March after the release of her own extensive polling on the issue for George Washington University’s Battleground Poll. “Say it was flawed from the beginning, and we’re going to fix it.”
Clearly the proper stance on ObamaCare is a divisive issue for the Democratic Party, however.
President Obama said during a Thursday press conference, “I think Democrats should forcefully defend and be proud of [the ACA].” And Democratic consultant Thomas Mills encourages Democrats to “start making the case for Obamacare.” He adds, “They all voted for it, they all own it, so they can’t get away from it. So they’d better start defending it.”
Based on polls, however, it seems Lake’s advice may be the best for Democrats who are seeking re-election. An April 21 Rasmussen Reports poll shows that 51 percent of Americans continue to view ObamaCare unfavorably, with 38 percent viewing it very unfavorably.
A Rasmussen Reports poll from April 8 reveals that just 23 percent of Americans view the law as successful, while 46 percent describe it as a failure. Twenty-nine percent see the law as somewhere in the middle. Fifty-three percent of Americans indicate that the quality of healthcare is likely to suffer under the healthcare law, according to the poll.
Photo of Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.): AP Images