Brian Beutler on the demographic breakdown of the 35% of the population that favors the repeal of the ACA:
Only a third of the country supports full repeal, and, like the Republican coalition itself, it is a very old third—comprised of the only people in the country with almost no stake in the law’s core costs and benefits.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, whose tracking poll is a touchstone for measuring public sentiment about Obamacare, the law is under water—barely. Forty one percent of respondents hold favorable views of the ACA, while 43 percent hold unfavorable views. But if you break it out by age cohort, you find that that two percent margin is entirely attributable to people who have aged out of the program.
Among 18- to 64-year-olds—the people who pay for the law, or are eligible for the law’s benefits, or might become eligible for the law’s benefits at some point in the future—Obamacare is breakeven. Forty two percent favorable, versus 42 percent unfavorable. Among those whose opinions we should generally ignore on this issue—old people—it’s a bloodbath. Only 36 percent view the law favorably, while 46 percent view it unfavorably.
As with so much in American politics, “I’ve got mine, Jack” is the dominant ethos of opposition to the ACA. The fact that so much opposition to the ACA comes from people with so little stake in whether the law survives (and what little stake they do have something that only a vanishingly small number of people would be aware of) doesn’t help the politics, but it’s certainly morally important.
As I’ve said before, if you actually take the heighten-the-contradictions critique of the ACA seriously — if you think that reform that stops short of nationalization is bad because it “entrenches” private insurers — the real villain is not Obama but LBJ. If there was any chance of single-payer or a comparable alternative, it died with Medicare. In my view, there almost certainly wasn’t any chance anyway, so Great Society Democrats were right to take what they could get. But certainly by cherry-picking a politically powerful constituency, Medicare made both passing and sustaining more comprehensive reforms much more difficult.