Friday night on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow devoted the show’s opening segment to the concept of “retail politics” and how the Democrats may finally be mastering that art in the form of Affordable Care Act (ACA) rebate checks, one of which could be on its way to your mailbox right now.
“Retail politics” is a term that refers to the skill of selling your policies as a government administration or a public official to the people they affect at street level. George W. Bush’s “tax rebate” checks that sent hundreds of dollars to virtually every citizen in the country were lousy fiscal policy, but great retail politics. When people get a check from the president, they’re pleased about having the money, no matter where they fall on the ideological spectrum.
Under the ACA, which was passed on March 23, 2010, health insurance providers are now required by law to spend 80 percent of the money they take in from policyholders on actually providing care, not on executive bonuses or lavish conferences or anything besides health care goods and services for consumers.
The rule is called the 80/20 rule, and according to Time magazine’s Mark Halperin, it’s “about to kick in big time, as millions of Americans receive rebate checks or premium reductions from insurance companies who have failed to spend enough on patient care. This cash could be a true game changer in public attitudes about whether the law actually is beneficial and good public policy.”
Maddow said that most people don’t actually know what was encompassed within the ACA, which conservatives call “Obamacare.” When asked what they think of the law, they say don’t like it. When asked what they think about insurance companies not being able to exclude people for preexisting conditions or not being able to charge women higher rates than men, or how they feel about young people being able to stay on their parents’ health insurance policies until they turn 26, however, people think those policies are great.
This has been a failure on the Democrats’ part to practice good retail politics. Now, with millions of Americans about to open their mailboxes on an unexpected cash windfall, Maddow and guest Pennsylvania’s former Gov. Ed Rendell conclue that maybe, finally, the Democratic Party is learning how to play the retail politics game.
Watch the video, embedded via MSNBC, below: