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It's Health Care, Stupid

The political cost of Obamacare.

9:19 AM, Sep 1, 2010 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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Jay Cost, who joins THE WEEKLY STANDARD today, leaves RealClearPolitics with a bang. In an excellent piece, he shows that the "conventional wisdom that the decline of the Democrats has mostly to do with the economy and little - if anything - to do with health care" is wrong.

It's Health Care, Stupid

President Obama hosts a health care summit on February 25, 2010 (official White House photo).

As Jay writes, "The Democrats' control of the House did not become tenuous recently....there has been a real danger of losing the House for some time, a danger that predates "Recovery Summer" and goes back to the health care debate....The real questions are whether the health care bill moved voters away from the Democrats, and whether those voters have since moved back now that the debate is over. The answers are yes - the debate moved voters away from the Democrats; and no - the voters have not come back."

Obviously the fading economy has compounded the problem for the Democrats. But as Jay points out, Republicans gained parity with Democrats in the generic ballot about a year ago--when the economy was turning positive, but as voters were learning more about Obamacare, and as health care was taking the political center stage it was to hold for months. And that was when the economy was strengthening.

So Obamacare--and, more broadly, Obama's big government agenda--gave Republicans a chance at a real comeback this November: "It was during the health care debate that the essential building block of the Democratic majority - Independent voters - began to crumble.  It was evident in the generic ballot.  It was evident in the President's job approval numbers.  It was evident in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts." And all of that was before the economic recovery stalled.


Now the fading economy--combined with other issues, and with the positive achievement of the tea parties--are turning a GOP recovery into what looks to be a rout.

Jay, with the rest of us at THE WEEKLY STANDARD, will be documenting that rout (or a Democratic rally, if that's what happens!) at weeklystandard.com for the next two months. So after (or before?!) you visit the indispensable realclearpolitics.com each morning, come here to read Jay, and of course much else.

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