Schumer: No way will ObamaCare be the number-one issue in 2014

Dream big, senator. Dream big. Via RCP:

I think what most Americans want us to do is not repeal Obamacare, which is what our Republican colleagues are focused on, but fix it. The president is working to fix it, we are working in the Senate to fix it, we urge our Republican colleagues to join us in fixing it. The bottom line is there are a lot of good things in Obamacare that people like, and the more people see that, the more positive it’s going to be. And I would just say one other thing with all the focus on Obamacare, David. The number one issue in the 2014 election is not going to be Obamacare or the deficit. It is going to be who can get the middle class going again. Who can expand middle class incomes, who can create jobs? That is far and away the issue that most Americans care about.

Yes, and I’m sure that we’ll be hearing plenty from desperately determined Democrats about the minimum wage and more federal intervention and other such populist, progressive, and ultimately counterproductive ideas for boosting the fortunes of the middle class, but the major problem with Schumer’s proffered middle-class theory is that ObamaCare (not to mention, the deficit) is hugely and inextricably linked with the fate of the middle class. The Obama administration is trying to remake the sixth of the economy that personally affects just about everyone, and as even the New York Times finally noticed on Saturday, many members of the middle class are already feeling shock and frustration from the newly-minted price hikes among the set of plans from which they find they must now choose.

And as the AP notes today, still more people will soon start discovering that the higher prices of their new premiums are far from the only costs that will come due:

As a key enrollment deadline hits Monday, many people without health insurance have been sizing up policies on the new government health care marketplace and making what seems like a logical choice: They’re picking the cheapest one.

Increasingly, experts in health insurance are becoming concerned that many of these first-time buyers will be in for a shock when they get medical care next year and discover they’re on the hook for most of the initial cost. …

For those without insurance — about 15 percent of the population — “the lesson is it’s important to understand the total cost of ownership of a plan,” said Matt Eyles, a vice president of Avalere Health, a market analysis firm. “You just don’t want to look only at the premium.”

Counselors who have been helping people choose policies say many are focused only on the upfront cost, not what the insurance companies agree to pay.

In a time in which Americans’ budgets are already tight, those are going to be particularly unpleasant and costly surprises — and the hard economic choices that individuals, families, and businesses are going to have to make are only just beginning.