“That Law ... Was Obamacare!”

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 3 2014 9:50 AM

“That Law ... Was Obamacare!”

76705760-chairman-of-the-senate-subcommittee-on-consumer-affairs
That man ... was Mark Pryor!

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Back in May, Marist conducted a poll of Kentucky for NBC News and used it to play an important word game. When voters were asked what they thought of "Obamacare," they opposed it by a hearty 57–33 margin. But when asked what they thought of Kynect, the state's insurance exchange—enabled by the ACA, created by Gov. Steve Beshear—a plurality of voters approved, 29–22.

"How about that?" said Democrats. (I'm paraphrasing.) "If you separate the elements of 'Obamacare' from the word that hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent slurring, the word associated with a website that didn't work for a while, and a president whom people sort of regret re-electing, you can run on it." As Greg Sargent noticed this month, Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor went on air with an ad describing how he battled cancer and his weak-kneed insurer.

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"No one should be fighting an insurance company while they're fighting for their life," said Pryor in the ad. "That's why I passed a law that prevents insurance companies from canceling your policy if you get sick, or denying coverage for pre-exisiting conditions."

Had Pryor changed the way people talked about the ACA? Well, he tried. Today, American Crossroads is launching an ad, the first in its current $2.5 million buy, that reminds voters that "the law" Pryor referred to is the hated Obamacare. It's a trap!

Yes, in 2014, we are still deluged with ads warning voters that Obamacare cut their Medicare, and if they're angry about this they need to support Republicans who also voted to cut Medicare, but in a more dynamic way. The Obamacare barricades must not fall.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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