The Magazine

The GOP’s Big Tent

Opposition to Obamacare unites Republicans.

Jul 23, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 42 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Supporters of Obama-care claim it will raise enough taxes and cut enough spending not to add much to the deficit. That’s doubtful. But with federal bureaucrats in charge of cutting hundreds of billions from Medicare to pay for Obama-care, heavy-duty rationing of health care is always a possibility. That would, if anything, make the law even more unpopular than it already is.

As important as the high cost was in turning the public against Obama-care in 2009, social issues may have played a bigger role. The bill didn’t almost die in an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress because it spent or taxed too much. Obama-care was nearly sunk because it allows taxpayer money to be used to purchase health insurance policies that cover abortion on demand.

Some pro-life Democrats eventually caved and voted for Obama-care in exchange for an executive order that didn’t even pretend to solve their primary problem with the bill. Now the Obama administration has mandated that private insurance plans, including those of religious institutions, must cover, at no cost to the recipient, abortion-inducing drugs, as well as contraception and sterilization procedures. Polls show a divided electorate on the “contraception mandate,” but 60 to 70 percent of voters oppose public funding of abortion.

The abortion issue is a big reason running against Obama-care may be better for Mitt Romney than “the economy” in general. The view from the top of the Romney campaign is that pro-lifers are going to vote for them no matter what, so it should focus on swing voters who are primarily motivated by the economy and jobs. Activists may vote for Romney no matter what, but there are indeed swing voters who are conservative on social issues though not on fiscal issues.

The Pew Research Center calls these voters “Disaffecteds.” They are lower income, distrustful of corporations, want government to spend more on the poor, and don’t want to see changes to Medicare or Social Security. They are also socially conservative, religious, and distrustful of government. Dis-affecteds voted for John McCain over Barack Obama by a 16-point margin in 2008, but voted for Republicans over Democrats by a 38-point margin in 2010. Running against Obamacare could help keep these Disaffecteds in the Republican fold in 2012.

The good news for foes of the law is that most of its provisions—most of the taxes, spending, regulations, and abortion-funding—don’t kick in until after the election. But therein lies the challenge for Republicans rebutting Democratic pleas to “move on.” Voters won’t immediately feel or see the negative effects of the law before November. They will need to be reminded of the many reasons to stop Obamacare before it’s too late.

John McCormack is a staff writer at The Weekly Standard. 

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 18 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers