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Health care law meets target, faces reality

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Health care reality check
  • Democrats seize on Koch message
  • D.C. primary results
  • Rand Paul’s immigration move

Reality check on health care law: President Barack Obama on Tuesday forcefully pushed back on Republican critics of the health care law, declaring, “The Affordable Care Act is here to stay” and proclaiming, “The debate over repealing this law is over.” But the reality is that the American people remain sharply divided over the policy and congressional Republicans gave no indication Tuesday that they were prepared to back down from their staunch opposition, even with the administration surpassing 7 million enrollments by its March 31 deadline. A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday finds that 55 percent of Americans oppose the health care law while 41 percent support it. Those numbers are more in line with recent polling than Monday’s Washington Post/ABC News survey showing an even split. Even with the sign-up target met, it’s unlikely the issue is going to turn into a political winner for Democrats anytime soon. One Democratic pollster made this point in Politico: “The less we’re talking about Obamacare, the better off we are. Since good things are now happening, we may be talking about it less, and that’s a good thing.” And 24 hours after his Rose Garden victory lap, the president is hitting the road, not to promote health care, but to go back to the Democratic message of raising the minimum wage. He’s scheduled to deliver remarks at 2:55 p.m. ET at the University of Michigan, then continue on to his hometown of Chicago for a Democratic National Committee fundraiser. The president’s minimum-wage push polls well, with Quinnipiac finding 50 percent of Americans would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports the move. But with Republicans firmly opposed, it’s another issue that the president and Democrats can spend a lot of time talking about, with very little progress to show for it. When it comes to health care though, the legislation is not likely to get much more popular until, frankly, a Republican president decides to continue to implement and “fix” it.

Koch is probably not it: Speaking of Democrats searching for a “sticky” message with the base, they continue to beat the drum on the billionaire Koch brothers, accusing them of trying to buy the election. Even on Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, which was essentially the same budget he’s been releasing for three or four years, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., again took it as an opportunity to drive home the Koch message, calling it “a blueprint for a modern…Koch-topia.” This messaging has Chuck Schumer’s, D-N.Y., imprint all over it, and Schumer said Tuesday it’s working. Polling shows fewer than half of all Americans know who the Kochs are, but Schumer thinks the fact that it’s that high is a tribute to Democrats hammering the message. But here’s the thing: it’s never a good sign to be the party complaining about spending and fundraising. It didn’t help Republicans when Mitch McConnell and others were complaining that President Obama was raising too much money in 2012. And it didn’t help Ken Cuccinelli when the Virginia Republican’s campaign was complaining they were being outspent on the air in last year’s gubernatorial contest against Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

Gray loses DC mayor’s race: Who is Muriel Bowser, the likely next mayor? Councilwoman Muriel Bowser won the D.C. Democratic mayoral primary over incumbent Mayor Vincent Gray, 44 percent to 32 percent, making her the favorite in November’s general election. We said the trend was heading in the wrong direction for Gray, embroiled in a campaign finance ethics scandal, and that if Bowser could consolidate the anti-Gray vote she could win, and she did. So who is she? The Washington Post profiles her and notes she’s a protege of former Mayor Adrian Fenty who is not used to being the one in the spotlight. She also has a reputation for being serious and straightforward. Said one Bowser friend: “Muriel is not someone I would invite to my card game. She doesn’t seem to relax at that level and engage in that kind of camaraderie … not that kind of let-your-hair-down-kick-back card player.” Neither Fenty nor Gray was able to unify this changing city. That, and governing in a clean, non-ethically challenged way, are going to be major tests.

Rand’s move on immigration: Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul made a move Tuesday to try and begin winning over Latinos. He told a conservative group that the GOP has to get “beyond deportation” if it wants to have a chance with winning Hispanics. “The bottom line is, the Hispanic community, the Latino community is not going to hear us until we get beyond that issue.” He continued, “Showing up helps, but you got to show up and you got to say something, and it has to be different from what we’ve been saying.” More: “I think that what’s happened is, there is not the perception of empathy coming from the Republican Party that we care about where they’re coming from and we care about what their problems are. Until we get to that point, they’re not going to listen to any of the next message.” There is no doubt Paul is running for president in 2016. And speeches like this are designed to lay the groundwork, test a message and get attention from the media when it sounds like he is delivering tough medicine to his party. But this only goes so far for Paul. He voted against the Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill. And while some will try to argue there’s a difference between saying, “Don’t deport everyone,” and supporting the immigration bill, the fact is Latinos are looking for a solution to the problem of immigration, and if you were against that bill, it’s going to be very hard to win them over.


  • Ramesh Ponnuru writes for Bloomberg View that conservatives should stop waiting for the health care law to implode.
  • As President Obama heads to Michigan today to make the case for an increase to the minimum wage, there’s a push underway in Arkansas to get a minimum wage hike on the ballot, NPR reports. Democrats hope that can help incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor get out the vote, especially among minority voters. African Americans make up 16 percent of the state’s population, and Latinos are 7 percent.
  • Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will announce a plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday, the first of several policy proposals to come from his advocacy group America Next.
  • Your Morning Line authors found this point interesting: “Due to a combination of lost re-election campaigns, retirements and deaths, 21 of the 60 Democrats who voted for the 2010 health care law are no longer in the Senate. If the fall elections go as poorly for Democrats as expected, another eight could be gone next year,” per Ryan Teague Beckwith. That means almost HALF of all the Democrats who voted for the law could be gone next Congress.
  • Charles Keating, the notorious financier who went to prison for his role the 1980s savings-and-loan scandal, has died. He was 90.
  • Former Sen. Scott Brown joined his former (and possibly future) Senate GOP colleagues for lunch Tuesday.
  • Daniel Strauss of Talking Points Memo notes that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is in high demand with Democrats running for office this year.
  • The Washington Post’s Ben Terris caught up with Rick Santorum on a return visit to Iowa.
  • The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is holding its first Facebook Q+A Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. ET.
  • Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., released his fourth TV ad in a month Tuesday. “Only One” attempts to get in front of attacks from tea party-backed state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who has yet to go on the air, that Cochran is not conservative enough.
  • News Channel 5’s Phil Williams uncovered documents that show Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration had offered Volkswagen $300 million in incentives conditioned on the automaker rejecting the creation of a workers council by United Auto Workers at a plant to be built in Chattanooga. Haslam pushed back on that claim Tuesday, saying the incentives were not tied to the outcome of the vote.
  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.




Simone Pathe contributed to this report.

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