Politically speaking, here's the thing about those melodramatic ads attacking the Affordable Care Act currently running on TV: In terms of actual policy, they're as futile as the 40-odd votes to repeal the law that House Republicans have already cast.GOP hardliners are like a drunk in a bar fight, threatening to whip somebody twice his size if only his friends would turn loose of his arms.It's all over but the shouting.Even if Republicans make big gains in the 2014 congressional elections, they can't possibly win enough votes to overcome a presidential veto. Like it or not, the ACA is here to stay.For all the predictions of actuarial doom heard on Fox News and elsewhere -- supposedly caused by an imbalance of old, sick enrollees versus younger, healthier ones -- the Washington Post reported last month that "the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that if the market's age distribution freezes at its current level -- an extremely unlikely scenario -- 'overall costs in individual market plans would be about 2.4 percent higher than premium revenues.'"That's a minor problem, but nothing like a "death spiral."In terms of affecting health care policy, then, the TV ads are largely symbolic -- scripted melodramas calculated to arouse the partisan passions of the GOP base in states where control of the U.S. Senate could be determined this fall. Maybe that's why the ad campaign has proven so singularly unpersuasive to skeptics.
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