New York, Nov 29 (IANS): Former US President Donald Trump's attack on his predecessor Obama's "healthcare insurance policy" could backfire spectacularly with voters as it is very popular with the urban middle classes in America.
Obamacare or Affordable Care Act (ACA) as it is known, sought to bring down the cost of healthcare for urban middle classes in cities by subsidising the programme taxing the rich.
Trump, the frontrunner in the Republican primaries, in a post on Truth Social criticised former President Barack Obama's signature domestic policy, which was established as the ACA in 2010 and offers US citizens discounts on government-sponsored health insurance plans, calling it "out of control".
"The cost of Obamacare is out of control, plus, it's not good Healthcare," Trump wrote.
"I'm seriously looking at alternatives. We had a couple of Republican Senators who campaigned for six years against it, and then raised their hands not to terminate it. It was a low point for the Republican Party, but we should never give up," Trump said.
The hardliner Republican had been consistent in opposing the healthcare policy, pledging to repeal it during his 2016 Presidential campaign. In 2017, a Senate vote to repeal and replace the law failed and in 2021, the Supreme Court rejected Trump administration backed by Republicans to invalidate Obamacare.
According to latest polling by KFF Health Tracking in May 2023, 59 per cent of US adults have a favourable opinion about the policy when it is described as the "Affordable Care Act or Obamacare," while 40 per cent view the act unfavourably, suggesting Trump could fail to drum up support by attacking it, Newsweek said in an analysis of Trump's various campaigns for 2024 presidency.
KFF data also shows the proportion of people enrolled in the ACA is high in key battleground states like Georgia and North Carolina. Differing stances on Obamacare could swing voters in the 2024 election, and Thomas Gift, a politics professor at University College London, told Newsweek that Trump will "need swing states to retake the White House".
Reacting to Trump's post on Truth Social, President Joe Biden's campaign spokesperson Ammar Moussa suggested the Biden administration may focus on Obamacare as part of the re-election campaign.
He said on X: "Donald Trump is right back to talking about repealing the Affordable Care Act."
In a statement issued to Semafor, he said, "40 million people -- more than one in 10 Americans -- have health insurance today because of the Affordable Care Act and Trump wants to rip it away if he returns to power."
"He was one vote away from getting it done when he was president -- and we should take him at his word that he'll try to do it again."
It is notable that while Trump used the term "Obamacare," Moussa's response used the term "Affordable Care Act". Polling has indicated that favourability depends to some extent on which term is used, even though they refer to exactly the same policy, reports said.
For example, a poll by Gallup in 2013 found that when respondents were asked if they favoured the ACA, with no mention of Obamacare, 45 per cent approved of it and 49 per cent disapproved. Asked if they favoured Obamacare, with no mention of the ACA, 38 per cent approved of it and 54 per cent disapproved.
Robert Shrum, a former Democrat political consultant and professor of political science, wanted Democrats to protect "Obamacare from renewed Trump's pledge to repeal it" and said it's one of the factors that will drive the 2024 presidential election.
Gift said Trump's pledge "flies in the face of clear polling showing that most Americans, including many Republicans, aren't interested in 'repeal and replace'".
The former President seems to have warped himself into a time machine back to 2012 where that was a smart Republican talking point. No longer. Especially if Trump is trying to set himself up for the general election -- and he should, given his near lock on the GOP nomination -- it's an odd pivot for a candidate who's going to need swing votes to retake the White House, Gift was quoted as saying.
Re-litigating Obamacare only appeals to a small sliver of the hard right who Trump already has in his back pocket.
According to the latest figures this year, more than 40 million Americans rely on the ACA.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden vowed to expand and strengthen it. In 2021, he signed two executive orders aimed at restoring healthcare policies that were weakened during the Trump administration regarding the ACA, Medicaid and protections to women's reproductive health.
Earlier this month, he celebrated the number of Americans enrolling for ACA plans.