Obamacare was supposed to be President Barack Obama’s legacy. But it’s looking like a political millstone.
The mammoth and unpopular health insurance overhaul weighed down Democrats in 2010 when Republicans helped turn seniors to their side.
And now Democrats have unexpectedly had to play defense over Obamacare’s Medicare cuts even as Mitt Romney picked Congressman Paul Ryan as a vice-presidential running mate and drew attention to unpopular Republican plans that cap future Medicare spending.
Central to the Republican attack: Obamacare cut $716 billion in anticipated Medicare spending over a decade. Republicans are driving the message home in TV ads and robocalls bashing Democrats.
“This could cost us the election,” Kelly Ward, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s political director wrote in a fundraising email last week. “We have to get the facts out to voters immediately.”
The first Democratic talking point: Ryan’s Medicare plan signed off on the very Obamacare cuts that Republicans are now bashing.
Obama’s campaign defended itself Friday in an ad that said the “the non-partisan AARP says Obamacare ‘cracks down on Medicare fraud, waste, and abuse,’ and strengthens guaranteed benefits.”
On Saturday, Ryan kept up the anti-Obamacare pressure in his first presidential-campaign trip to Florida, where he spoke at the Republican-friendly retirement community The Villages, along with his mom, a part-time Lauderdale-by-the-Sea resident.
The Obamacare cuts to Medicare haven’t yet reduced services and are structured in such a way that they’re not supposed to hit benefits, at least in the short term. Medicare spending is actually forecast to increase in 2012 at a higher annual rate than the average annual increase over the prior five years.