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May 20, 2014 10:52 AM Who’s Really Dodging Obamacare?

By Ed Kilgore

A surprisingly big media preoccupation over the last 24 hours or so has been to accuse Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn (disclosure: she’s a friend from way back) of being evasive for saying she’s not sure whether or not she would have voted for the original Affordable Care Act legislation, though she’s quite clear she wants to “fix” rather than “repeal” the law, and reasonably clear how it should be “fixed.” She’s also clear that she favors her state accepting the ACA’s Medicaid expansion.

I guess the real question is whether it’s more important to find out what candidates would have done in 2010, or what they want to do now.

As Greg Sargent notes again today, Republican Senate candidates are struggling on this latter question:

Local media have been pressing GOP Senate candidates in states where versions of the Medicaid expansion are moving forward to answer a simple question: For or against? In Arkansas, David Ramsey can only get word salad from Tom Cotton. In Michigan, local reporters can’t get anything clear out of Terri Lynn Land. And the Boston Globe (more of a national outlet) been unable to get an answer from New Hampshire candidate Scott Brown. In North Carolina, Thom Tillis’ stance on repeal is comically incoherent.

Now as it so happens, none of Michelle Nunn’s potential Republican opponents in Georgia is the least bit ambiguous about continuing to oppose the Medicaid expansion. If possible, I suspect, they’d make the rejection of the Medicaid expansion, along with the complete repeal of Obamacare, an ontological principle expandable to other planets. But they do tend to get vague about the “replacement” agenda, other than it will be all about “patient-centered” care and “personal responsibility” and all that jazz. So if you concede that Obamacare is “about” something larger than itself, then there are all sorts of ways to “dodge” it.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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