Republicans almost universally agree that Obamacare will be one of the major issues in the midterm election after the administration ordered a delay earlier this month in the mandate requiring businesses to purchase health insurance for employees.
More than three years after it was enacted — when Democrats last controlled both houses of Congress — and after nearly 40 votes by the Republican-controlled House to repeal all or parts of the Affordable Care Act, the controversial measure is anything but "settled law."
According to a Gallup Poll completed in late June, 42 percent of likely voters believe the law actually will make things tougher for them and their families. Only 22 percent said the healthcare-reform law would improve their health and family life.
The same survey showed that 52 percent of likely voters feel the law itself is flawed and would drastically cut down the quality of healthcare that citizens received in the long run. That number is higher than Gallup's survey last fall, which showed 45 percent disapproved of the law overall.
"The issue of Obamacare is not going to go away," Republican Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio told Newsmax, "especially in districts like mine."
Johnson noted that in the Buckeye State's 6th District, "small businesses are shutting down because they cannot comply with the employers mandate."
But the administration's delaying of the employers mandate for one year, while allowing a mandate requiring individuals to purchase health insurance to be enforced, is, in Johnson's view, "a violation of the law and of the Constitution. The president is choosing the laws, 'which I enforce and which I don't enforce.'"
Sounding a theme increasingly voiced by his Republican colleagues and by 2014 GOP hopefuls, Johnson said the right way to proceed with mandates for individuals and employers is "permanent delay for both."
Whether the administration's move to delay the mandate will succeed in taking it off the table as a red-meat issue remains to be seen, but the Democrats will have to overcome historical precedent to keep from losing congressional seats in next year's midterm elections.
The second midterm election of a president historically has been a big win for the party outside the White House. With the exception of Bill Clinton in 1998, presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938 have suffered major setbacks in the midterm elections of a second term.
As to whether the delay of the Obamacare mandate will turn out to be a winning issue for Republicans, others are not so certain.
"In all likelihood, the Obama administration put off the employer healthcare mandate to avoid election-year headlines of small business trimming hours and reducing employment to avoid the mandate," Mark Kennedy, director of the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University, told Newsmax.
But Kennedy, a former Republican congressman from Minnesota, quickly added: "It is still unclear whether the Republican challenge that 'If you delay the mandate for business, you should delay the mandate for individuals' will gain traction with voters."
Michael Steele, former Republican National Committee chairman and former lieutenant governor of Maryland, said other issues have the potential to eclipse Obamacare in the midterm elections.
"Obamacare has never been popular with the public, and yet there was no penalty paid at the ballot box by the administration or Democrats in 2012," Steele told Newsmax.
"It's hard to see how the administration's delay in implementing the healthcare mandates is going to be a winning issue for the GOP in the face of what Republicans do or don't do on immigration and the Voting Rights Act," Steele said.
"Trust me, if the debate in '14 is about delaying implementation of healthcare mandates versus denying blacks the right to vote or Hispanics a pathway to legal immigration, with the House on the line, one thing is certain: Both parties will have a reason to turn out their base."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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