- - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

This is a time to be very skeptical of political analysts who are telling voters that the Democrats “have regained an advantage” over the GOP as we head toward the 2016 presidential election.

And time to be dubious of President Obama’s claim that if you get health insurance through your job, and are not in Obamacare, “you’re still paying about $1,800 less per year on average than you would be if we hadn’t done anything.”

Democrats are going to be making utterly false claims between now and the 2016 elections, about the economy, jobs, wages and Obamacare.

The claim that Democrats have suddenly regained the political advantage over Republicans is, of course, highly questionable at this point in the 2015-16 election cycle. But let’s deal with Mr. Obama’s exaggerated health care claim first.

Remember the whopper he repeatedly told, that if you didn’t like his “Affordable Care Act,” you can keep the health insurance policy you have now. “No one can take that away from you.”

Then, millions of Americans were hit with notices from their health insurance providers that their policies were no longer valid because they did not contain provisions that were mandated under his health care reforms.

And guess what? Our new policy ended up costing us more than the one we had before.

Well, he’s at it again, only now he’s saying health care costs are falling and the $1,800 he’s saving Americans is entirely due to his health care law. The Washington Post’s ace fact checker, Glenn Kessler says “the jury is still out on that.”

There are many factors contributing to health insurance costs, such as economic growth, inflation and signing a broad range of younger, healthier policy holders.

When Mr. Obama made a similar claim not too long ago, Mr. Kessler gave him two Pinocchios. When he made it yet again in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision that upheld a key provision on policy subsidies, Mr. Kessler was still dubious.

Attributing “the full $1,800 in savings to his health law is a stretch,” he says.

When Americans heard Mr. Obama claiming that he was responsible for declining health insurance premium rates, they must have said, huh?

The fact is that since Obamacare was enacted, medical care premiums have been rising — by 20 to 40 percent in some markets, it has been widely reported.

A study of health insurance plans by the Kaiser Family Foundation in nearly a dozen big cities concluded that next year’s health insurance costs are set to rise by 4.4 percent.

That brings us to the 2016 election and a Gallup poll released last week on party identification, showing that the Democrats “have regained an advantage” over the GOP.

But there are more powerful political currents at work here than just party identification. Such as seeing how much more is being taken out of your paycheck for health insurance. Or, if you are paying for a private plan, getting a notice that your monthly bill will be significantly increased in a few months.

Republicans will be pounding that issue this year and next and blaming Mr. Obama and the Democrats for making medical insurance unaffordable for millions of middle-class Americans who aren’t getting Mr. Obama’s subsidies.

And that’s an issue that cuts across all political lines, because everybody knows who rammed the Obamacare bill through Congress, over the objections of Republicans, and who signed it into law, don’t we?

Then there is the weakened Obama economy and the Gallup Poll’s Economic Confidence Index that found a lot of Americans are pretty sour about it.

“For the week ending June 28, 24 percent of Americans said the economy is ‘excellent’ or ‘good,’ while 29 percent said it is ‘poor’,” Gallup reported.

“The economic outlook component score was -11 in June, based on 42 percent of Americans saying the economy is ‘getting better,’ and 53 percent said it is ‘getting worse,’ ” Gallup said.

The Obama economy not only stopped growing in the first three months of this year, it actually shrank by 0.2 percent.

If you believe all the financial analysts on the nightly newscasts who say that the economy will be bouncing back soon, another Gallup poll this week should disabuse you of that notion.

U.S. consumer spending was flat in the month of June, and remained “essentially unchanged from the previous two months,” according to Gallup’s daily tracking polls of more than 14,000 adult Americans.

Other surveys found that Americans are keeping a tight grip on their money, and weak retail spending underscores those findings.

No wonder Gallup’s daily surveys find that nearly 40 percent “say they are worried about money.”

Despite Mr. Obama’s boasts that unemployment has fallen like a rock and Americans are doing a lot better financially, that’s not what people are telling Gallup in its daily tracking polls.

Their surveys show that 14.5 percent of the people they poll say they’re involuntarily underemployed and need but cannot find full-time jobs.

While the government puts the unemployment rate at 5.3 percent, Gallup’s own survey puts that number at 6 percent. Much if not most of the decline in the jobless rate is due to long-term, unemployed workers dropping out of the labor force.

Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones says the Republicans “have seemingly lost the momentum they had going into last fall elections.”

But that political momentum will return, if the economy remains sluggish or worse, wages stay flat, and the GOP saturates the air waves with TV ads that tell the voters who is to blame for America’s economic troubles.

There’s a reason why Mr. Obama’s job approval numbers remain stuck at 46 percent and Republicans took control of Congress in 2014.

And that’s why the GOP is now poised to take over the Oval Office.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.

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