Bill Clinton to Dems: Don't Run Away From Obamacare Fight

Saturday, 29 Mar 2014 04:22 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Former President Bill Clinton has a word of advice for Democrats facing tough arguments against Obamacare: Confront healthcare reform directly and don't run away from the fight.

Clinton admitted this week that he's stood up and fought for Obamacare sometimes and has run away from fights other times — but he believes embracing controversy is always the best way to go, writes Joe Conason in a syndicated article posted at Real Clear Politics on Saturday.

Clinton said that he agreed to give the nominating speech for President Barack Obamaat the 2012 Democratic National Convention only if Obama "let me explain and defend the healthcare deal." He says he still feels strongly about it.

"I thought that Democrats had a tendency to shy away from things they had done that were unpopular, (and) talk about positions they had that were popular," said Clinton. "And that my own experience had convinced me — going back to '94 and even more when I was governor — that that was always a terrible mistake. That you had to turn in toward all controversies and embrace them, even if you said you were wrong or a mistake was made. You couldn't not deal with it."

Current political wisdom, though, insists the Democrats will lose the Senate in this year's elections thanks to the unpopularity of Obamacare, writes Conason. However, public opinion on the healthcare law is starting to change, and many surveys show that Americans may change their views on Obamacare once they hear it explained.

Further, the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, released on March 26, shows that the shift is already starting to turn, with more than half of respondents supporting Obamacare and only a third wanting to repeal it. A strong majority of 60 percent wants to keep the law or improve it.

Even more telling, 53 percent of the respondents said they are tired of listening to politicians arguing over Obamacare, and many parts of the Affordable Care Act, including preventive care and insurance subsidies are popular among Republicans and Democrats alike, writes Conason.

"Suddenly, reform's ruin no longer seems preordained," he wrote. "As the Obama administration and various experts predicted all along, the last several weeks of enrollment have seen a popular rush to sign up on the state and federal insurance exchanges. Days before the deadline of March 31, the White House announced that more than 6 million uninsured Americans had enrolled in qualified plans on the exchanges — more than the revised projections of the Congressional Budget Office."

"Success for Obamacare might boost the turnout projections that Republicans have tried so hard to suppress and that Democrats have so far proved unable to resuscitate," said Conason.
"Dominant forces in the Republican Party — including the tea party and its billionaire financiers — have staked everything on the commonplace assumption that Obamacare will drag down Democrats across the country."

But Clinton says Democrats will not be able to hide from the issue, and the more they hide, the more they'll face contempt, and Conason agrees.

"Democrats have insisted that all Americans must have health coverage — a momentous and admirable goal advanced by the Affordable Care Act. With the numbers now on their side, they should lift their heads, raise their voices, and lean into the midterm debate. They have no better choice."
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