Mitt Romney’s challenge among young voters might seem so daunting that his party would just give up on trying to appeal to them. Romney is manifestly uncool, and he is challenging the coolest president in American history.
And so Romney and Republicans are not trying to make young people like them. But that does not mean they are ignoring the youth vote. On Monday the Romney campaign announced the formation of “Young Americans for Romney leadership team.”
Romney’s allies on the right are using a purely negative approach to youth-oriented messaging. They offer no positive agenda; they merely characterize Obama’s record in the most depressing terms possible. Karl Rove’s nominally independent conservative group has launched a youth outreach arm called Crossroads Generation. It has posted two misleading videos on its website.
The first beats up Obama over the rising cost of college, without noting that Obama’s measures to aid college students have actually made the net cost of college hold steady. It also leaves out the fact that Romney has not offered a college affordability plan.
The second, posted on Monday, called “60 Seconds on Health Care Reform and Young Americans,” offers a bizarre analysis. It acknowledges that that the provision in the Affordable Care Act allowing young people to stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 27 is appealing. But it claims this doesn’t matter because “states already allow” them to. Some states do, and some don’t, but by this is an incredibly weak argument against guaranteeing the same rights to every young person in the country.
The ad then claims that even the Obama administration admits that young people will have to pay more than they need to for health insurance, because of the individual mandate.
This is a very strange way of looking at the insurance market. Currently, if you are young and you want health insurance but you make more than the federal poverty level, you have to buy subpar insurance for a high price because that is all the individual market offers. Under the ACA, you will be more likely to qualify for Medicaid, because the eligibility threshold is being raised, and quite likely to qualify for federal subsidies, which go up to 400 percent of the poverty line. Even if you make too much to qualify for either, you will be buying into a market that offers better insurance—thanks to new regulations—for a lower cost, thanks to the individual mandate forcing the young and healthy the market.