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Will anyone care about health care in six months?

Democrats and Republicans are falling over themselves to explain how passing health care will hurt or help their chances in November’s congressional elections, and commentators are spilling gallons of ink handing out unsolicited counsel on how politicians should play their votes in seven months.

But Politics Daily’s Walter Shapiro has some good advice for those caught in the rush: stop pretending like you know what’s going to drive this November’s congressional elections. Because you don’t.

Shapiro looks back to the 2006 midterm elections, before which commentators predicted that Democrats would make gains based on the Dubai Ports World deal that fell apart under the Bush administration. Don’t remember Dubai Ports? I can hardly blame you.

But you don’t even have to look back that far. Throughout 2007, during the run-up to the 2008 presidential elections, Washington wisdom was that Iraq would be the dominant issue, given the political hubbub over the “surge” and widespread popular dissatisfaction with the war. It turned out to be of shockingly little importance during the general election. Sure, that was a presidential election, not a midterm, but that means that the press and voters were focused on the candidates for longer stretches of time, which should have worked to make distant events more consequential. And, yes, America did have an economic near-meltdown in the intervening months. But that just demonstrates that new events can easily supersede what looks really important now.

Besides, health care is ripe for falling down the list of voters’ considerations, even if some calamity doesn’t strike before November. Republicans’ doomsday predictions about its effects won’t materialize, particularly in the short-term. And Democrats’ utopian prognostications about its near-term impact won’t, either. So much of the bill doesn’t kick in for a year or more.

Want to know what’s really going to drive voters to the polls this year? Ask me in six months.

By Stephen Stromberg  | March 24, 2010; 12:46 PM ET
Categories:  Stromberg  | Tags:  Stephen Stromberg  
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Next: Is health reform unconstitutional? Don't laugh.

Comments

I know you're hoping we'll forget, counting on us forgetting. But rest assured we won't. This middle-aged Hispanic lady will continue to study her well-worn copy of the Constitution and prepare for the elections. I am livid that this Congress ignores the voters and claims to know what's best for me while it strips away my rights and takes away more and more of my hard-earned money.

Posted by: gloriagarza | March 24, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

democrats were voted into power in 2006,
on a promise to end the Iraq War.
Obama was elected in 2008, on promises to
end Both of our 'Unjust Wars We Cannot Afford'

healtcare is a watered down 2018 pledge to pass the buck to the next generation.

Broken promises will kick the dem's to the curb.

Posted by: simonsays1 | March 24, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Republicans lost in 2006 because a majority of Americans had turned against Iraq by then (Bush was still given the benefit of the doubt in 2004) and because Katrina exposed the core incompetence of the Bush Administration.

Add to that Bush's failed attempt to destroy Social Security, the Terry Schiavo fiasco, and the Mark Foley cover up and the Republicans had to be flushed out.

Posted by: AxelDC | March 24, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Well the health care bill is too lengthy for a busy person like me to fully digest,but at quick glance it does not seem to have gone anywhere near far enough..but it's a start. This middle aged German-Anglo-Albanian-hispanic (I don't know why ethnicity is important to this debate...but it appearantly is) emergency room nurse will be happy that he may not be spending most of his time treating headaches and sprains, and instead now attending mostly to true emergencies. Why health care revision has become such a political issue instead of an issue that attends to what's best for all is beyond me. It's not always about money and power...sometimes it's just what is right.

Posted by: bcook2 | March 24, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Granted, we are a nation of stupid, mindless sheep (Sorry, sheep), but I'll remember.

Posted by: coffic | March 24, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

In about six months millions of senior citizens will hit the Medicare Part D Prescription drug do nut hole. At that time they will get a $250 rebate. That will enable many to continue with life saving drug therapy as opposed to not taking their meds or taking reduced dosages. Those millions of Seniors including those who opposed the legislation will care. Yes they will. They will indeed.

Posted by: jbowen431 | March 24, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see will be the 800-ton gorillas in the political arena in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, and so on -- until a way is found to fix the problem, or else elections are suspended due to the continuing economic emergency.

Posted by: JBaustian | March 24, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

jbowen431: do you mean that the votes of millions of senior citizens can be bought off with $250 bribes? That is a very depressing thought.

Posted by: JBaustian | March 24, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Gloria Garza, you go girl! I agree, I am not going away either. My constitution and history book is getting the dust brushed off its covers. Congress thinks we will forget, not a chance. When they rile me up with all your posturing, rhetoric, and out and out silly acting for effect and votes, forget it. I take the constitution of this land seriously. Just because they don't, and think they can turn in on and off, like comedians and stupid over opinionated, narcissistic actors, while abusing our emotions and faith, doesn't make everybody else think this is a game. If the politicians think their laughing in the face of the American people's faces they need to leave congress. As it is their legislation, had they themselves, read would have fixed, without all getting on the bandwagon to screw us all. Vote the potty mouths out of congress, who won't listen to the people who actually pay for things around here.

Posted by: hoosierlatina | March 24, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Jbowen bcook Yes, we are mindless sheep, Bababababa. So what's wrong with having Nancy Pillcrazy for our Mommies, babababa. Old sheep joke. It's a hoosier one, okay. I can see just forgetting about the doughnut hole, once I get that $250 in exchange for higher taxes. Whew congress had me so worried I wouldn't get a free lunch. Sorry for all the sarcasm, politicians/actors just bring it out in me. Doesn't do any good that my heritage brings it out in me too. I won't specify which ethnic groups my temper is associated with, that just might throw the ethnic police crazy, cuz I might be considered too Heinz 57 then. Hahaha.

Posted by: hoosierlatina | March 24, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I think that Health Care is only symptomatic of the underlying concern over an expanding, encroaching government. If it were healthcare alone, Stromberg's argument would have more credibility. But every indication is that, so far from backing off on the throttle, it is full speed ahead for the big government agenda.

Under that circumstance, there is likely still a raw wound come November, with Healthcare an important but hardly the only element.

Now some other crisis, foreign or domestic, could intervene. If domestic, it is likely to be seen through the prism of the role of government in our lives. And, if foreign, the Republicans are unlikely to allow partisanship to stop at the water's edge. That paradigm of American politics was likely forever shattered by the Democrat treatment of Bush's Iraqi adventure...whatever he does will be characterized as a consequence of his pusillanimous international persona.

Posted by: CincinnatiRIck | March 24, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Lest we forget, what we forgot in past years are far away places. What we have here is home, our pockets, and our health. We won't forget.

JBaustian wrote that the $250 for those people in the donut hole this year will mean something. Well, folk, if you are in the donut hole in August, #1 $250 ain't gettin'ya' through the rest of the year. Equate it to the checks we got a few months ago-acouple weeks of groceries. #2, Does that refund comes when you file taxes the following year? We won't forget, believe me.

Posted by: pepineagles | March 24, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

I know I won't forget. Finally, a president and a congress trying to move this country forward. The health care bill was a refreshing start.

After years of a stagnate government looking only to enrich the already rich, I'm glad the Obama administration has decided to really govern for the people. Maybe that $250 isn't much but it was a lot more than you were going to get from a republican administration. Republicans just sit on the sidelines complaining, while the democrats get in there and get the job done. I won't forget in November.

Posted by: wmwilliams14 | March 24, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Of course we will, this was a historic event and later when we see tangential benefits no one will ever forget what president Obabama has achieved, after all slavery and health care have been a shameful part of American history

Posted by: postDC | March 24, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

I am against anyone being treated like a slave. And I refuse to be one too. I will not be a slave to Obama or his healthcare plan. I refuse to be held in a stationary status, while the rich socialists at the top like, Pillcrazy, dictate to me my place in society, be heaving heavy taxation on me. This srewed up health care plan, is not health care it is filching of private everyday citizens. You call it what you want hard working Americans are not going to sit idly by and put up with being called racist and hate mongers because we have a right to decide what is best for us as well.

Posted by: hoosierlatina | March 24, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

"Trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see will be the 800-ton gorillas in the political arena in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, and so on -- until a way is found to fix the problem, or else elections are suspended due to the continuing economic emergency.
**************************************************************************************
Everyone all of the sudden has forgotten what Bush spent in Iraq, $1 billion a month and no one complaint; Reagan had trillions of dollars deficit for his arms race and his insane obsesion with his defense shields, which by the way never got of the ground much less into space to defend US, just ask any marine what happened in Lebanon during his presidency and the soldiers that died in a plane.
Furthermore ask Bush what the hell happened to the $2 trillion dollars in surplus president Clinton left.

Posted by: postDC | March 24, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

hosierlatina wrote "You call it what you want hard working Americans are not going to sit idly by and put up with being called racist and hate mongers because we have a right to decide what is best for us as well**********************************************************************************

I am lost for words, I trust you get well soon.

Posted by: postDC | March 24, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

To put things in perspective for those republicans who opposed this bill.

Every person who died because the republican party has been opposed to healthcare for the last 50 years must number in the millions. Every sick person who couldn't get help was tortured, mentally and physically. The republican party have committed acts of torture genocide and, yes I'm going to say it, TERRORISM on Americans.

They have killed innocent civilians for what they believed - this is I think the definition of a terrorist.

George Bush should have invaded himself, not Iraq.

Posted by: 7eddy | March 24, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Making good health care available to 30 million more people is no less "American" than our tradition of affording everyone the opportunity to be educated. Costly yes, but a true improvement for our most fundamental infrastructure-- our people. It's not socialism--it's an investment in our nation's future.

Posted by: lloydlava | March 24, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

hoosierlatina: What is this Nancy "Pillcrazy" a reference to? Is it another hoosier joke like your sheep one that is difficult to get?

Posted by: suenaustin | March 24, 2010 8:25 PM | Report abuse

gloriagarza: "I am livid that this Congress ignores the voters...." Every poll I see shows that Americans are about equally split in support & opposition. So Congress DIDN'T ignore the 50% of the population that disagrees with you.

Posted by: bigfish2 | March 24, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

This health care bill is so great that it is already in the courts for being unconstitutional. Yes, I will remember and vote accordingly. At least my democratic representative voted against the monstrosity. I'll remember that as a good mark for him should he run again.

Posted by: gfafblifr | March 24, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

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