But in terms of media narrative and political talking points, hitting the 7 million sign-up metric was significant for Democratic hopes in November's congressional elections. In the crudest terms, it means the enrollment period will be deemed a success. Or as Politico put it today: “How the administration turned around a historic failure.”
That was the backdrop for Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel's media briefing at the National Press Club Wednesday. The New York congressman stressed that Democrats will be on the offensive on Obamacare, particularly in warning about the ramifications on the middle class of repealing the law, as repeatedly advocated by Republicans.
“The reason that the Republicans are so animated and obsessive on repeal of the Affordable Care Act is well-known,” Israel said. “It is the only thing that animates a fractured, weak base that is in a civil war.”
Israel indicated that the DCCC is still conducting a thorough post-mortem of last month's special congressional election in Florida. In that contest, Republicans retained a seat in a swing district following a campaign that was heavily waged on the merits of Obamacare.
But Israel also made it clear that the healthcare law will not be the chief rhetorical cudgel with which they intend to pound Republicans. Instead that honor will go to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's plan to cut $5.1 trillion in spending over a decade.
“They should have just printed a middle finger to the middle class on page one of this budget,” Israel said.
Democrats will need to pick up 17 seats in November to take control of the House, a prospect that's viewed as exceedingly remote. But Israel pointed out that the political climate shifted dramatically in just a three-week period last fall between the government shutdown (which Republicans were widely blamed for instigating) and the Obama administration's disastrous rollout of HealthCare.gov.
“If three weeks made such a dramatic difference in the climate, who knows what the next seven months will bring,” Israel said.
Follow Paul Demko on Twitter: @MHpdemko