March 20th, 2014
02:06 PM ET
6 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

    This is why the Koch brothers spend obscene amounts of money lying about this, people will believe it, does that mean their naive, well of course it does, informed people don't vote gop.

    March 20, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  2. Tampa Tim

    Come November, if any people have friends who are poor, immigrants, women, uninsured, veterans, students, workers, etc., remember not one republican voted for programs that would actually help these groups.

    March 20, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  3. PaulG

    It's a winner for those on the subsidized half of the equation, otherwise the program is a train wreck.

    March 20, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  4. grumblesfromthegrave

    OK, what IS Ms. Pelosi smoking?
    a) she doesn't get to pick the track record the Dems will run on – they have already made it (and it's a mess)
    b) sure, job creation is a critical issue – but all that Gov't can do effectively on that score is GET OUT OF THE WAY and let private enterprise flourish.....

    March 20, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  5. rla

    The unions spent obscene amounts of money to get this passed and then are scrambling t to get exemptions since it is destroying the 40 hr work week and is a disaster to their members! Informed people will not vote dem this time around the time of fooling everyone is over.

    March 20, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  6. Mark

    I pay for my own and my rates tripled.

    Your employer took the hit for you as to why there has been no hiring since Obama

    March 20, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Of course, health care reform is a winning issue. Just ask the folks in red states who are being denied coverage. Just ask the folks with coverage what would they do without quality insurance coverage.

    March 20, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  8. rla

    Democrat help- HIGHER premiums, higher deductables, and higher out of pocket co-pays- Only in democrat land is this a good thing!

    March 20, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  9. Wake up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Nancy, you are in a party full of PAB wusses. The GOP has them scared ishless. The only people in your party that aren't wusses are yourself, the POTUS, the AG, and Hillary. The rest are nothing. I could be wrong but if the ACA is so bad, wouldn't it implode on its own? Why would the Kochs have to spend billions to tell everyone how bad it is? This is the message that should be getting across. I don't understand how an educated, thinking person doesn't understand this. I know they're billionaires but why throw money away??

    March 20, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  10. Tampa Tim

    I think the GOP declaring Obamacare a "train wreck" indicates a lack of intelligence on their part. Too many people have already seen the positive effects. People are demonstrating against red state governors for refusing access to health care to over 5 million people, and the majority of Americans do not want Obamacare repealed. People are losing faith in Fox and the Koch brothers because they continue to air their already debunked lies.

    March 20, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  11. rs

    After the somewhat less-than-stellar roll-out last year, that might be a leap. However, as the numbers grow, and the well-funded Koch lies about the ACA are revealed it becomes harder to deny the benefits of having more people with access to health care insurance. The GOP was foolish to offer up "freedom from health care insurance" as being anything but stupidity in action.

    March 20, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  12. DRJJJ

    Can't blame Bush-it's called Obamacare!

    March 20, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  13. sonny chapman

    A Losing Issue: Prior to Obamacare, 45,000 Americans die annually from lack of Health Insurance. What is the Repub. Solution to this Real Middle Class American Problem ?

    March 20, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  14. CharlieH

    Haha, please run with it then.

    March 20, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  15. Reggie53

    Pelosi needs to go and get her botox injections. She needs to retire....we have had enough of her now.

    March 20, 2014 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    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.
    ------------------------------
    You should have listened to Leader Pelosi, Mr. President. By embracing the misnomer, Obamacare, before the lies about it were debunked by the law being fully implemented and proven, you simply breathed life into the lies that have been told. Death panels, HA.

    March 20, 2014 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  17. FubarObama

    This woman is out to lunch. She makes democrats look like they are from outer space.

    March 20, 2014 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  18. romymon

    I agree with PaulG a hundred per cent. ObamaCare which will cost taxpayers billions of hard earned money may be a winner for the DP who crafted that financial abomination to ensure they get they get the votes of the freeloaders, but it could backfire if the millions of affected Americans, especially from the young and healthy voters who don't actually need health insurance but who will be forced to pay what Chief Justice Roberts call a tax. Pelosi, however, did not mention that many in her party are worried about the negative effect of ObamaCare on their re-election bid. One prominent Democrat, a former law office partner of Hillary Clinton recently called ObamaCare a "gift on a silver platter" from the DP to the GOP. I guess we'll all find out in November if Pelosi is right or wrong. In any case being the ultra liberal that she is, she couldn't care less if Uncle Sam loses both his shirt and pants, for as long as the DP wins! She is a puke, and that's being kind!

    March 20, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  19. Tampa Tim

    smith
    Tampa Tim-I think that the ACA has helped some people and has impacted some in a negative way , such as myself. I personally think the pre-existing conditions rule is a bright spot of ACA. Just saying there are two sides to the ACA.
    ---
    I am glad we agree on one aspect of ACA. What are your thoughts on eliminating lifetime caps?

    March 20, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  20. Tampa Tim

    Fugal – For a minute, I thought you were referring to Michele Bachmann, then I realized you were being funn.

    March 20, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  21. sonny chapman

    Charlie, what's so funny about 45,000 Americans dieing annually from No Health Insurance ?

    March 20, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  22. willhaas

    I wonder if she has read the law yet. The fact that the ACA fails to keep the President's promises on health care does not appear to concern her but it is of concern to many Americans who are having to pay more for health care and cannot use the health care providers they are use to which is contrary to the President's promise. The President said that jobs was his number one priority and the stimulus was to have solved our unemployment problems but apparently employment is still a major issue. How are the voters going to award failure?

    March 20, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  23. Tampa Tim

    Those 45,000 wounded from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are a product of Bushcare.

    March 20, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  24. salty dog

    Unions don't have obscene amounts of money. I'm a union rep and I can assure, most unions are not spending money on this.

    March 20, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  25. Dean

    If Obamacare is such a winning issue, why are Democrat politicians distancing themselves from Obama on the campaign trail? "Barack who?"

    March 20, 2014 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
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