- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Obamacare could be the ultimate gauge of partisan politics. Consider: Republicans are 22 times more likely than Democrats to believe that health care reform could foul up the America’s future. So says a new Gallup analysis of a year’s worth of health care polls, and the responses of close to 14,000 people. The conclusion: “No other factor — including race, income, personal ideology, gender or education — is as relevant to Americans’ opinions on the Affordable Care Act as their party affiliation. This remains the foremost predictor of whether an individual will disapprove of the ACA.”

Gallup director Frank Newport and analyst Andrew Dugan discovered all sorts of things in their exacting research efforts, which reveal that Republicans are 17 times more likely to disapprove of Obamacare itself than Democrats. GOP respondents are also 16 times more likely than Democrats to say the law will negatively affect their family’s health care in the long run.

But there’s a more pressing question: Must Americans now learn to live with the health care law forever? There’s a very slim chance it could be repealed.

“The health care law will undoubtedly be debated over the course of this year’s midterm elections that could leave the Republican Party in control of both houses of Congress. But unless the GOP is able to obtain a difficult two-thirds majority in the House and the Senate, efforts to repeal or drastically alter the law will likely be unsuccessful at least through the 2016 presidential election, ensuring it remains a political football for the next few years,” the researchers conclude.

A CHICAGO MOMENT

The Windy City could get a little windier on Wednesday. Yes, President Obama will first journey to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to speechify about increasing the federal minimum wage. But then it’s on to Chicago for a pair of Democratic fundraisers, where the entrance price can fetch up to $32,400.

Mr. Obama will meet with a small group of business executives at a city steakhouse where there is still such a thing as a 14-ounce Delmonico steak on the menu. Then it’s on to a private home in the historic Lincoln Park neighborhood, for a speech and a photo op with donors. And that’s how Wednesday rolls.

RYAN BUFFS HIS RESUME

As his critics twitch, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has methodically added to his appeal as a potential White House contender by producing a GOP budget the Wisconsin Republican insists can defang Obamacare and balance the federal books in a decade without raising taxes. The notion plays well in Peoria, and everywhere else, and provides hard evidence to weary, skeptical voters that at least somebody’s trying to do something.

“This budget helps to show the choice Americans will face in November. Republicans will continue to be the party of solutions. Democrats are stuck being the party of scare tactics,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

Instant reviews from Mr. Ryan’s critics deemed his fiscal road map as austere, draconian, reckless and just plain “tired.” Mr. Ryan’s fans call him reasonable, serious, safe and disciplined. Friends and foes alike, however, are very much aware that the young lawmaker is the clear front-runner to succeed Rep. Dave Camp as chairman of the even more powerful House Ways and Means Committee; the Michigan Republican announced Monday he won’t seek re-election.

So the Ryan resume will grow. Then there’s always New Hampshire and Iowa. Mr. Ryan visited the Granite State in February, and he journeys to Cedar Rapids next week to headline the Iowa Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Dinner. Among the GOP luminaries attending: Gov. Terry Branstad, Sen. Chuck Grassley, plus Reps. Tom Latham and Steve King.

“Paul Ryan has created a conversation about the budget that most in Washington are unwilling to have and he’s raised real questions about our nation’s spending and debt,” says A.J. Spiker, the just-retired chairman of the state Republican Party.

ADIOS CONSERVATIVES

“We’re not just the party of deportation. We got to get beyond deportation to get to the rest of the issues.”

This is what Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told an audience at the launch on Tuesday of MRC Latino, a new media watchdog. The group has released new research revealing that 45 percent of the content featured in major Spanish-language news broadcasts in the U.S. is liberal-leaning, while just 6 percent offers a conservative take. Another 49 percent was deemed “neutral.” The trend is not likely to influence the sizable Hispanic voting bloc to consider conservative candidates. And thus Mr. Paul’s concern.

“There is not the perception of empathy coming from the Republican Party that we care about Hispanics and where they are coming from,” the Republican lawmaker told the audience. “Until we get to that point, they are not going to listen to any of the message. Are there many in the Latino community who go to church and believe in traditional values and who are conservative? Yes. Maybe half. Maybe 60 percent. There’s enormous upside potential.”

CHRISTIE-FIED

“If you don’t have baggage, they’ll create baggage for you. That’s politics in America today.”

— New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.

POLL DU JOUR

53 percent of Americans disapprove of President Obama’s “handling of the Affordable Care Act rollout.”

88 percent of Republicans, 69 percent of conservatives, 23 percent of Democrats, 34 percent of liberals, 60 percent of independents and 53 percent of moderates also disapprove.

49 percent of Americans overall support Obamacare.

20 percent of Republicans, 36 percent of conservatives, 76 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of liberals, 44 percent of independents and 50 percent of moderates also support the law.

48 percent overall do not support Obamacare.

78 percent of Republicans, 61 percent of conservatives, 21 percent of Democrats, 29 percent of liberals, 54 percent of independents and 47 percent of moderates also do not support the law.

Source: AN ABC News/Washington Post poll of 1,017 U.S. adults conducted March 26-30.

Weighty thoughts, baggage to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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