How Will GOP Governors "Save You From Obamacare"?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 12 2013 10:37 AM

How Will GOP Governors "Save You From Obamacare"?

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Ken Cunccinelli uses his mental powers to block healthcare.gov from reaching the commonwealth.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

In an interview with National Review, pollster Kellyanne Conway spreads the gospel of the Cuccinelli stab-in-the-back. Cuccinelli's 2.5-point loss, in which he ran 11 points behind his vote from his 2009 campaign for attorney general, is proof that "the 'war on women' has run its course," that "Obamacare was a toxic drip" for Democrats, and that the national party could have saved the candidate. Nothing new here—to the consternation of "establishment" Republicans, who kind of saw this coming, Cuccinelli's defeat is being read by conservatives as proof that they are doing nothing wrong.

But I was fascinated by how Conway thought Cuccinelli should have spun his opposition to Obamacare.

October 1 should have been the first day of five weeks’ worth of him reminding Virginians that he had been the Paul Revere of Obamacare from the get-go. He always knew it could not work or was built on lies, and that it would never reach the shores of Virginia with him as governor.
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He did say that, characterizing the Medicaid expansion (which he opposed) as an "Obamacare expansion." But what, functionally, would it mean to make sure the law would "never reach the shores of Virginia?" It seems to have jumped across the Potomac with ease, as any Virginian trying to buy into the exchange or seeing his individual plan changed or getting coverage that would have been canceled before can testify.

The whole theory of "protecting" civilians from Obamacare was pushed by Chris Christie, too. Here he was on This Week, two days ago, asked about insurance cancellations.

Listen, anybody who has run anything in their lives could see this coming a mile away. And that's why we didn't do a state-based health exchange. We didn't do it because we could see that this whole program was going to be a problem.

But ... how does the lack of a load-bearing exchange in New Jersey do anything to thwart the law? It merely shunts New Jersey residents onto healthcare.gov. We're just looking at quotes from/about two gubernatorial candidates who were up this year, but we can expect to hear much more of this from Republicans in the states. To allow more people in the state to climb onto Medicaid, or to buy into a smaller state-run exchange, is to Expand Obamacare.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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