Sunday, September 25, 2011

Obamacare in 2012: Political Calculus

The theory of probabilities is at bottom nothing but common sense reduced to calculus.

Pierre Simon de Laplace, (1748-1827)

September 25, 2011 - Intrade, the world’s leading market predictor, puts President Obama's odds of being reelected at 48.4%. That’s as good a prediction as any in this 50/50 nation of ours evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.

Personally I tend to rely on the polls of Real Clear Politics, a middle-of-the-road, online site that lists daily polls on politics. Its readers are split – 41.5% Democrats and 41.0% Republicans.

Its polls today show a 51.6% Obama job disapproval, a 83.3% Congressional job disapproval, with 72% of Americans saying the country is headed in the wrong direction. Of Obama and the Democrats health reform plan, 51% disapprove and 38% approve, and of health reform repeal, 50% favor repeal and 39% oppose repeal.

For President Obama, not a favorable national poll in the bunch.

At this stage, 408 days before the elections of November 2012, these numbers may be meaningless. On the other hand, Nate Silver, a New York Times political analyst, says poll numbers are political calculus and more to be trusted than the opinions of political talking heads.

Suppose these numbers translate into President Obama’s defeat and loss of the House and Senate.

Suppose, as Charlie Cook, author of Cook Report and a respected political analysts , speculates that such a Democratic debacle spells the end of Obamacare(Charlie Cook, “If the GOP Wins, Cook Report, September 23, 2011).

Suppose the Republicans lose 10 to 15 seats, but still control the House – a likely outcome says Cook.

And suppose the GOP picks up 4 to 5 Senate seats, giving them a 51-49 or 52-48 majority, and Obama loses.

What then? Cook says the first piece of legislation might be H.R.1, effectively repealing Obamacare.

So then what happens to provisions already in effect and being worked upon – changes in benefit designs for health plans, work and money expended on health exchanges, coverage for those with preexisting illnesses and children up to age covered by their parents’ plans, and additional discounts for part D recipients in the doughnut hole?

Well, as one GOP health expert notes, the Republicans could end up "looking bad." “Their best hope, “ he says, “is for the Supremes to do their dirty work for them.”

Cook adds. “While no one doubts the importance of next year’s elections, the stakes are even higher than one might think.”

As for me, I am a half a glass full guy. I agree with Mark Twain, who said of Richard Wagner’s music, “It’s not as bad as it sounds.” I second the notion of Tom Friedman, the New York Times columnist, who says. surely we will come to our senses and have a “Grand Bargain” to clean up the mess. Friedman goes on to say, “It is easy to be an optimist in America if you stand on your head because the country looks so much better from the bottom up than from the top down.”

Given current odds, it is conceivable the GOP could win the Presidency and both houses of Congress. They might then repeal Obamacare. What then?

1 comment: said...

Pretty helpful data, thank you for the article.