ABC-6 Reporter Mark Curtis: "The Sunday Political Brunch" Novemb - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather


ABC-6 Reporter Mark Curtis: "The Sunday Political Brunch" November 10, 2013

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by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis

(Providence, Rhode Island) – The troubles with signing up for Obamacare and its failed website continued this week. I have raised questions about the potential political fallout in the 2014 elections. Some have scoffed at that prospect, but history tells us that policy troubles often lead to political troubles for the party in power – be they Democrats or Republicans. Read on:


"I am Not a Crook!" – The fallout from Watergate and the subsequent pardon of Richard Nixon cost the Republican Party dearly. In the 1974 election Republicans lost five seats in the U.S. Senate and 48 seats in the U.S. House. Democrats already controlled both bodies, but this spread the margin even wider. Sometimes, though, sea-change does not last long. 

"There You Go Again!" – President Jimmy Carter came to Washington, D.C. as an outsider, and may have departed four years later even more on the outs. Carter presided over the worst economy since the Great Depression and U.S. world power was severely diminished by the Iran hostage crisis. Carter lost the 1980 election to Republican Ronald Reagan in a landslide. Democrats lost eight seats in the U.S. Senate as Republicans took control of that body for the first time in 24 years. Democrats also lost 35 seats in the House, and while they did not lose control of the lower chamber, there were enough moderate-to-conservative Democrats who teamed with Republicans and gave President Reagan a "philosophical majority" in the House.  

"Contract with America" – In 1992 – after 12 years of Republicans controlling the White House – Democrat Bill Clinton won the Presidency and had strong Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. Now, tell me if this sounds familiar - Clinton pushed hard for health care reform and more restrictive gun legislation. That caused a huge public backlash, and, in 1994, Democrats lost nine seats in the Senate and 54 in the House and in the process lost control of both chambers of Congress. It was one of the most crushing midterm election defeats for any party in power, in U.S. history.  

"I am a War President" – By 2006, many Americans had grown weary of President George W. Bush who was leading the nation in two wars. The public was particularly incensed that weapons of mass destruction – the premise for going to war in Iraq – had not been found. The wars were expensive and there appeared no end in sight. In the 2006 election, Republicans lost six seats in the U.S. Senate and 32 in the U.S. House, thereby losing control of both chambers of Congress. As with President Obama now, Bush had already been reelected and would not face voters again. But, members of Bush's party in Congress would face voters again and it did not end well for many of them.  

"If You Like Your Health Plan, You Can Keep It" – In 2010, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. Unlike 1993, when infighting among Democrats doomed health care reform, this time the President negotiated within Congress, instead of dictating policy from the White House. It worked. Democrats cobbled together just enough votes to pass the Affordable Care Act in both houses of Congress. The public was about equally divided on the bill – and when it came to light that few Members of Congress actually read the thousand-plus pages of legislation, voters were livid. Democrats lost seven seats in the Senate and lost a whopping 64 seats in the House, including control of the lower chamber. It was nothing short of a public backlash.  

"The Day of Reckoning" – When the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, it presented a dramatic change for the health care industry. For that reason, its full implementation was not scheduled to take place until 2014. Political cynics and political pragmatists alike also saw this as a strategy to keep it out of the 2012 presidential election, helping President Obama win a second term. True or not for 2012, the election of reckoning is now approaching. With the Obamacare website in tatters, and the President apologizing this week, this is now being framed as the main political issue heading into the 2014 election cycle.  

"Bombarding the Airwaves" – In these days of "fair use" on media clips – where anything you say is fair game to be used against you – one can envision a TV, radio and Internet ad that goes like this: (President Obama): "If you like you plan, you can keep it! You can keep your doctor, too!" – (Announcer): President Obama is not up for election this year, but Democratic Congressman John Smith is…and Congressman Smith voted ‘Yes' for Obamacare. Republican candidate Fred Jones opposes Obamacare and if you send him to Washington, he'll vote to repeal it! (Candidate): "I'm Republican Fred Jones, and I approved this message!" The GOP could make "cookie-cutter" ads like this and run them against every Democrat up for reelection in the House and Senate.  

"Will They, or Won't They?" – The midterm elections are a year away, and a lot could happen between now and then to change the face of the election. The White House could get the Obamacare website fixed and running like a Swiss watch, and the issue could go away. Or the troubles could continue, and the issue will stay at the forefront. People in both parties know it. When I spoke with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) this week he was quite candid: "If they haven't gotten it fixed by the election a year from now, than there should be hell to pay. But I think they are going to have it fixed as they say, by the end of November (2013)," Whitehouse said. A GOP member of the General Assembly had an even harsher assessment. State Rep. Doreen Costa (R-RI) said, "This thing needs to be 100 percent abolished. And start from the beginning because it's my understanding that between three and four million people have already lost their health care insurance, and that's not acceptable." Campaign 2014 is clearly underway!  

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© 2013, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

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