Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) told Breitbart News last week that the 2018 midterm elections are all about immigration and “amnesty.”
That may be true, as far as mobilizing the conservative base is concerned: a weak deal on DACA — the unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — could depress Republican turnout.
But in terms of actually winning the midterms, there is only one issue that matters: reducing the cost of health insurance.
The numbers do not lie. Democrats lost in special elections in 2017 when they ran against Trump himself. But when they ran on health insurance and health care, they won.
A recent Harvard poll showed that the number one issue for voters was not DACA (#12 overall, and only #8 among Democrats), but renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) — an issue that newly-elected Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) pounded into the ground in his campaign.
Here are some other numbers. The average family of three will see their Obamacare premium increase by close to $800 in 2018. That will swallow about half of the average $1,600 tax cut middle-class families expect to receive from Republicans’ new tax reform.
Some families will have to spend all of their extra cash on Obamacare. While taxpayers will no longer pay a fine if they decline health insurance, for most families, that is not a realistic choice.
And so, for many Americans, Republican control of Congress has been a wash. The cost of health insurance is simply astronomical — and many people cannot even use their insurance because the deductibles are so high.
Republicans promised repeatedly to solve that problem, and failed. They are no longer really trying, with the leadership moving on to budget-busting infrastructure proposals that will search in vain for Democratic votes.
Democrats created the Obamacare beast, but the public does not blame them for the problem anymore. In fact, voters trust Democrats more on health care — by a 14-point margin — for two reasons. First, Republicans have failed to address the issue, largely because they cannot agree among themselves. And second, Democrats are at least talking about solutions, even if those solutions involve the same old failed bureaucratic, redistributive tricks.
Republicans only have a few more months left before the themes of the 2018 election are set in stone. That leaves a small window to address the rising cost of health insurance.
The votes are not there to repeal Obamacare, so Republicans will have to pass a “fix” to Obamacare — unilaterally, through reconciliation — that preserves the possibility of broader reform later.
Otherwise, Democrats will get their chance — and we know what that means.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.