By Brent Budowsky - 04/02/14 06:02 PM EDT
With the powerful new surge of ObamaCare customers that has surpassed all expectations and brought the number of enrollees above 7 million, it is a major political blunder for Republican leaders to insult these Americans by claiming they are too stupid to understand the financial interests of their families and threatening to use the jackhammer of Republican big government to take away insurance they bought after making informed choices in a free market.
J’accuse: The closest thing to socialism in America in 2014 is a GOP that proposes to use the dominating power of the Republican vision of the federal government to take away the private property of private insurance bought from private companies by individual citizens, after considering competing products in a capitalist system.
In another sign of GOP overreach, a recent Washington Post/ABC poll found support for ObamaCare rising to nearly 50 percent. Polls will vary, but more than 7 million Americans have voted with their enrollments, a number that could approach 10 million if the enrollment period were extended for three months, as I recently proposed.
It is a major political blunder for the GOP to continue attacking Medicare, as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) does in his new budget proposal, by seeking to privatize this highly popular program and turn it into another profit center for big banks.
Republicans are making the same mistake on ObamaCare that they made during what I called their “Benghazi disease” phase when they turned the House of Representatives into a Republican house of inquisitions with their discredited, taxpayer-financed attempt to wound former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which left her with landslide leads over all opponents in 2016 polling.
The GOP politics of ideology, fanaticism, negativity, overconfidence and overreaching did grave damage to Republicans in 2006, 2008 and 2012, which continues today in their obsession to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The party is trying to force voters to follow dictates from Republicans in Congress who have unfavorable ratings of 80 percent.
During Act I of the ObamaCare drama, Democrats suffered a devastating defeat in the battle of the rollout. During Act II, Democrats won a powerful victory in the battle of enrollments. As attention shifts to Act III, the battle over premiums, a well-executed battle plan could turn a potential Democratic liability into a decisive Democratic advantage.
Democrats are hoping for, and fighting for, the lowest possible premiums for customers. Republicans are hoping for, and campaigning for, the highest premiums and greatest pain for customers.
Democrats should frame the issue this way: If voters want to pay lower premiums, they should vote for Democrats. If voters want to pay higher premiums, they should vote for Republicans.
In addition, President Obama should invite the CEOs of insurance companies to the White House for two meetings.
The first meeting, which should occur soon, would include a discussion about the competitive benefits for insurers who keep premiums lower than their competitors.
The second meeting, which should take place closer to the time of new premium announcements (and Election Day), would be held to thank those insurers that announce premiums lower than competitors to maximize market share and benefit customers.
The mother of all ObamaCare blunders for Republicans is that they really do hunger for Americans to be slammed by higher premiums, for partisan political reasons, and they cannot control their instincts to show it.
Democrats have an opportunity for political jujitsu that could turn a potential liability into a decisive asset, by going all-out to drive publicity, acclaim and customers to insurers that keep premiums down.
The ObamaCare marketing machine that drove enrollments above 7 million is on a rapidly upward curve that has enormous power, if fully unleashed, to drive educated consumers to lower-premium insurers while inspiring educated voters to support Democrats in November.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.