March 20th, 2014
02:06 PM ET
7 months ago

Pelosi: Obamacare a winning issue

Washington (CNN) – Marking Sunday's fourth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi brushed off any notion the controversial health care law was hurting Democrats politically, and predicted the measure would help those running in competitive districts in the midterm elections this fall.

"I believe that it's a winner," Pelosi replied when asked Thursday how the issue would play in swing districts.

"That is a case we have to make," she added and noted Democrats faced a similar dynamic when Social Security was passed in the 1930's, saying "everybody has to spread the word as to what this is."

While Pelosi insisted that Democrats around the country are "standing tall" and supporting the Affordable Care Act, she said Democrats' campaigns weren't focused on health care, but on economic issues.

"We're not running on this. We're running on what the American people want us to run on, which is job creation," Pelosi said.

The Democratic Leader bristled when asked if she was worried the law is a liability for Democrats around the country.

"This isn't about politics. This is about the health of America. This is about standing tall as the country did on Social Security, Medicare, health, Affordable Care Act. So this isn't, we don't weigh its value as to what it means politically, we weigh its value as to what it means to the health, well-being, economic, and health security of America's families."

Pelosi's celebratory event in the Capitol on Thursday-ahead of Sunday's anniversary–stood in stark contrast to the muted embrace from other congressional Democrats. This week members of Congress are back home in their districts. Some Democrats are hosting events to encourage constituents to enroll in insurance coverage before the deadline at the end of the month, but there is little evidence that many, especially those in competitive races, are holding public events to tout the health care law.

After a high profile loss in a special congressional election in Florida last week where Obamacare was a central issue, some Democrats are growing increasingly nervous about being linked to the law, which has had a series of setbacks. There are also worries that the issue could cause them to lose their 55-45 majority in the Senate.

Democrat Alex Sink, who lost the Florida special election, supported Obamacare but campaigned on a message that she would go to Congress to fix the problems with the law.

Pelosi admitted the law isn't perfect and said she also backed making improvements, telling reporters, "just because people say ' I don't want to repeal it but I do want to fix it' doesn't mean they are walking away from it."

National Republicans criticized Pelosi's event.

"Today’s hour-long gaffefest disguised as a press conference shows what Nancy Pelosi’s party is up against this fall. Even Pelosi-the architect of ObamaCare-can’t explain the benefits of a law that is growing more unpopular by the day," said Matt Gorman, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Pelosi and Maryland Democratic Rep Chris Van Hollen touted a long list of statistics about the benefits of the law - including the five million enrolled in the new health care exchanges, the young people who can now remain on their parents' plans, and the savings seniors are enjoying on prescription drug costs.

Pelosi corrected a reporter for referring to the law as "Obamacare" and stressed over and over "it's called the "Affordable Care Act." She said opponents of the law wanted to change its name because they wanted to distance themselves from the word "affordable." The Democratic Leader admitted that the President also used the term "Obamacare" but said she also urged him not to use it.

Van Hollen predicted that by the time the election comes around in November the focus on the law's rocky rollout last autumn will fade and more Americans will be experiencing its tangible benefits in their pocketbooks.

But he admitted the outside spending by groups opposed to Obamacare is a problem, saying, "We're having to provide the facts in the middle of a frontal multimillion dollar misinformation campaign."

"I don't think it's that difficult to explain the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. I do think it can be difficult to beat back the distortions that are out there and not surprisingly, some people are confused," the Maryland Democrat said.

But Pelosi, as she has maintained over the last four years since the law was enacted, said "I have no doubt that this will be such a joy in people's lives."

New Obamacare poll

A new Pew Research Center national poll indicates that 53% of Americans disapprove of the health care law, with 41% saying they support the measure. Opinion of Obamacare is virtually unchanged since Pew polling last September.

But the survey, released Thursday, also indicates when those who oppose Obamacare are asked about the future of the law, more want lawmakers to try and make the measure work than to make it fail.

The Pew Research Center poll was conducted Feb. 27-March 16, with 3,335 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus two percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2014 • Nancy Pelosi • Obamacare
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. salty dog

    I'm disgusted by the union that's complaining, they want a double dip on their benefits, very short sighted, but there's always that one group.

    March 20, 2014 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  2. Scott

    I see the Speaker is STILL continuing the saga of her alternative reality...astounding!

    March 20, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  3. smith

    Pelosi, Reid, and some on the ticker here somehow just can`t grasp that the ACA has impacted some folks(not all) in a negative way.

    March 20, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Can I give conservatives some advice? The relentless onslaught of degrading and dirisive comments against liberals, minorities, women, immigrants, and "lazy people" may get a good laugh in your crowd, but it also makes your crowd look like everything that the "GOP Autopsy Report" said it was times ten.

    March 20, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  5. Gunderson

    Ah, Huh,
    Step right up folks! Get your Elixer here! Cures all Ills. But don't forget without your Elixer 45 thousand people will die each year. Come to think of it 45 thousand will die if you do have your Elixer. Step right up folks, get your Elixer here!

    Humm,
    Whazzat?, It's the Affordable Care Act? With friends like the Liberal's who needs enemies? Step right up folks.

    March 20, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  6. CALIFORNIA

    She's living on planet Hillary.

    March 20, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  7. Gurgyl

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with this ACA Law. It is a Law. It least you have insurance, your home is not garnished, you an not be denied by insurance thugs.

    March 20, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  8. Silence DoGood

    - no more fear of losing insurance due to pre-existing condition saves lives and retirement
    – no more fear of being un-insurable
    – less uninsured Americans already
    – more poor people getting insurance
    – able to survive the right wing sabotage campaign
    If the ACA is a train-wreck, then I wanna ride that progressive train farther into the future.

    Conservative argument: Hey Rush said he heard of a guy on a blog that knew a person who had to pay more.

    March 20, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  9. CALIFORNIA

    Pelosi: Obamacare a winning issue

    Yeah for REPUBLICANS!!!!

    March 20, 2014 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  10. CALIFORNIA

    DRJJJ
    Can't blame Bush-it's called Obamacare!
    --------
    Actually yes they can and already have tried.

    March 20, 2014 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  11. bobo

    Hey.... If you America to collapse, by all means... vote Democratic!

    March 20, 2014 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  12. bobo

    WE NEED JOBS! Get the Government OUT OF THE WAY!

    March 20, 2014 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  13. Jeff - Sarasota, FL

    I saw the other day where one of the Koch PAC's had some ad out with a woman that has leukemia talking about losing her coverage or some such... She was married to some guy that was recently appointed/hired for some GOTP position... Anyway, they said her insurance was over $1000 a month plus her co pays for her medication/treatments and stuff... They ran her info through the ACA and her monthly payment would drop to 570 something and her co pays would drop in half... The lady say she "didn't believe it" and "it has to be wrong" and argued with them like the good GOTP wife she is I guess...

    THAT IS WHY the GOTP is so worried about the ACA taking hold, BECAUSE IT REALLY DOES WORK!!!!!

    March 20, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  14. hildegard green

    obamacare is nothing but a sorry exuse for letting old and poor peoples touwn. my husband did applyed for disabilty and medicaid and the people in dss medicare well for obama it may be ajock the people from dss or medicade put him on afamilieplannig plan the man is real sick with 0 incomm he canot plan a familie if he wandet to .is aschame mister Presdent that those people the paid for peoples you age ending up with no insurance by the way he is 61 what schame

    March 20, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    DRJJJ

    Can't blame Bush-it's called Obamacare!
    ------------------------
    Bush and Republicans had their chance for at least six years. What did they do back then? Nothing. What do they want do today? Nothing. Nothing, except return to the days when companies could raise rates annually by double digits without cause. Return to the days when you could get denied coverage becaue you were costing them too much money.

    Health care shouldn't be about lining someone's pocketbook. It should only be about health care. If that's too much for the private sector to accept, then perhaps they don't need to be in the health care business after all. Maybe it should be governemnt run industry. When the private sector cannot get the job done properly, then that is where government steps in.

    March 20, 2014 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  16. Ron L

    I FIRMLY believe it is both a winning issue and GOOD for the country. The problem is the Democrats are too passive in presenting the FACTS on how the good that will come from it outweighs the problems some Americans are having with it. I just get tired of having the Republicans tell me how awful the ACA is, we can't go back to what we had before, but offer NOTHING to replace it with. How stupid are we as a society to elect people who only seem interested in tearing things down...it's pretty sickening.

    March 20, 2014 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  17. dc OBSERVER

    3 years later and Nancy still has not read THIS BILL –joke

    March 20, 2014 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  18. Tony

    Obamacare has an approval rating of 40%, according to the Gallup Poll. Republicans, what is your approval rating?

    March 20, 2014 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  19. Tony

    Obamacare is better than RepublicansDon'tCare.

    March 20, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  20. Maria Rivera-Carvalho

    Oh, but this will be an amazing summer. Ms. Pelosi will be proven right and the Republicans will be left running around like a chicken without a head. Comedy Central will never be the same again.

    March 20, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    dc OBSERVER

    3 years later and Nancy still has not read THIS BILL –joke
    ---------------------–
    Four years ago it was Republicans claiming that they didn't know what was in the bill because they hadn't been given a chance to read it. Remember? Everyone else does.

    March 20, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  22. deee510

    Democrats need to get the word out to vote and we'll win.there is way more democrats than teapublicans.

    March 20, 2014 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Nancy, are you deaf? Americans aren't buying what you're trying to sell us!
    Nancy, do you have dementia? What part of NO do you not understand?

    March 20, 2014 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  24. Silence DoGood

    @Ron L
    I FIRMLY believe it is both a winning issue and GOOD for the country. The problem is the Democrats are too passive in presenting the FACTS on how the good that will come from it outweighs the problems some Americans are having with it. I just get tired of having the Republicans tell me how awful the ACA is, we can't go back to what we had before, but offer NOTHING to replace it with. How stupid are we as a society to elect people who only seem interested in tearing things down...it's pretty sickening.
    ---------
    Yeah but Hannity proved it is a failure by inventing fake witnesses and lying. Oh wait.......

    March 20, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  25. Paul

    If its a winner, then why do you have to spend hundreds of thousands of taxdollars spreading LIES, Nancy?

    If ObamaCare was any good, you wouldn't have to sell it.

    You're an effffffing liar, like ALL Democrats.

    March 20, 2014 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
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