Elections, especially off-year elections, are mainly referenda on the economy. This one was no exception, and the recent health reform legislation was viewed as part of the problem, a source of unnecessary federal spending. Ads opposing the Affordable Care Act, many fueled by new and unregulated campaign spending, topped those favoring it by a 5-1 margin. Having voted in favor of the legislation also hurt many Democrats among voters who feel the legislation did not go far enough. Among Republican voters, according to Gallup, repealing the Affordable Care Act is the number one priority.
So does this mean that the legislation is fated to be “ripped up, root and branch,” as Indiana Congressman Mike Pence predicted on election night?
Probably not. The reasons go well beyond President Obama’s veto pen and the simple political reality that benefits, even those slated to roll out over time, are rarely withdrawn.
The main reason is that the legislation, despite being passed without bipartisan support, represents a genuinely bipartisan approach that tackles two major and intensifying social and economic problems: inadequate health insurance coverage and out-of-control health care costs.