Examiner Editorial: President getting no love for Obamacare 

Last September, just as public opinion was beginning to turn against Obamacare in a serious way, President Bill Clinton made a bold prediction. “The minute health care reform passed,” he said in a policy forum in New York City, “President Obama’s approval ratings would go up 10 points.”

Clinton’s prediction reflected the wishful assumption of many wishful liberal-leaning pundits and think tank analysts, as well as the strategy of President Barack Obama’s political advisers. They viewed the rising public clamor against Obamacare as a temporary aberration, not as a lasting problem that could potentially undo his presidency. When Obamacare passed, they confidently reasoned, the public would suddenly appreciate its virtues and acquiesce to federal control over nearly every aspect of health care.

This notion consoled them in the following months as Republicans shockingly captured the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia, then the Senate seat held for more than four decades by Ted Kennedy in deepest blue Massachusetts. But despite these unmistakable electoral manifestations of deepening voter displeasure, Obama and congressional Democrats soldiered on, often resorting to desperation tactics, until they finally secured a victory that put Obamacare on the books as the law of the land.

But — surprise! — there has been no bump for Obama, nor for Democrats in Congress, nor for Obamacare. In fact, Obama’s public approval rating now registers consistently below 50 percent and seems headed steadily downward, with polls conducted for CBS, Fox News, and Quinnipiac putting him in the mid-to-low 40s. Republicans lead in nearly every poll of the generic congressional ballot, prompting liberal Democrat number-cruncher Nate Silver to write that if the election were held today, Republicans would likely take control of the House of Representatives by a comfortable margin. Democratic retirement announcements keep coming even at this late date, mostly in districts where Republicans can compete.

Meanwhile, polls continue to show a strong majority opposing Obamacare and favoring its repeal. The latest Fox News poll puts the opposition at 55 percent, with 39 percent in favor. This reading comes despite Obama’s backward-looking campaign tour in recent weeks to build public support for Obamacare, something  he and his party were unable to do during the year prior to its enactment. The Democrats assumed they had to pass a health care reform bill, any bill, regardless of the depth or intensity of opposition. Failure, they reasoned, would harm them at the polls. As it turned out, their success may kill them in November.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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