Healthcare Reform’s Negatives Give Democrats a Tough Sell

Reports of the law’s real, negative impact will make it a tough sell for Democrats.

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By Ron Bonjean, the Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Marketing experts believe that "closing the sale," or helping buyers feel good about their immediate purchase, is even more important than buying the product itself. Reputations can be made or broken over the word of existing customers. Charles Schumer of New York, former chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, attempted to close the sale on the newly enacted healthcare spending bill by predicting on Sunday that, "As people learn about the bill, it's going to be more and more popular. By November, those who voted for healthcare will find it an asset, those who voted against it will find it a liability."

Unfortunately for those who voted for the healthcare spending bill, the loopholes and problems with the fine print are already dominating the news cycle as Americans begin to learn more about it. For Democratic lawmakers who voted to support passage of the legislation, these stories will only make their jobs tougher as they try to win over skeptical voters back home during the two-week Congressional break. Just look at the stories this week:

Negative Impact on the Economy/Jobs: The Wall Street Journal reports that companies who offer prescription drug plans will now face higher taxes and those who don't cover employees are going to face steep fines. AT&T, John Deere, Caterpillar, AK Steel, and Valero have reported they will take a combined $1.4 billion in corporate losses.

The New Hampshire Union Leader reports that the bill will force major ski resorts to increase prices or cut costs due to a provision that will fine businesses that do not provide health insurance at approximately $2,000 per full-time employee if they work more than 120 days per year. This could cost up to $1 million for the area ski lodges.

Children With Pre-Existing Conditions Aren't Really Covered Yet: President Obama used new requirements that children with pre-existing conditions must be covered by insurance companies. Health insurance companies see it much differently. If children are already insured, then they will be covered for pre-existing conditions. However, if children are not already covered, according to the New York Times, "[health insurance companies] say, the law does not require them to write insurance for the child and it does not guarantee the 'availability of coverage' for all until 2014."

Democratic Leadership and Staff Are Exempt From Obamacare: The Democratic leadership and committee staff will be exempt from the healthcare bill they just wrote and passed. Politico reports, "The healthcare reform bill signed into law by President Barack Obama Tuesday requires Members of Congress and their office staffs to buy insurance through the state-run exchanges it creates--but it may exempt staffers who work for congressional committees or for party leaders in the House and Senate." Republicans have already introduced legislation to repeal this exemption.

With such high stakes this November, these are not the stories that Democrats want to deal with when trying to sell changes to healthcare. And while a new Washington Post poll says that the enthusiasm gap has virtually evened out between Democrats and Republicans, just how many of these are progressives and how many are blue dog Democrats? I would argue that it is the liberal base coming home to support Obama because he finally did something. But what does the center that elected President Obama to office think? A new CBS poll has the answer with two out three hoping that Republicans will keep on fighting to repeal the bill. It will be interesting to see what gains Democrats will make after their two weeks of closing the sale.

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