GOP, Obama test-drive 2014 midterm election messages

Both parties took their favorite midterm election strategies for a test-drive in their weekly addresses on Saturday, with Republicans hammering Obamacare and President Obama pushing Republicans to support a minimum wage hike.

Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who's taking on Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., in one of the most closely watched Senate races of 2014, tore into Obamacare, saying the president's health care law has been "anything but an amazing success story."

"We now know the sad reality of Obamacare: lose your insurance, lose your doctor, lose your job," Cotton said in the weekly Republican address, reciting a familiar host of complaints about the law. "Five million Americans face cancellations, and the president’s own estimates predict that tens of millions more will lose their plan. Many more are losing access to their family doctors, specialists and local hospitals. And the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects Obamacare will cost the equivalent of at least two-and-a-half million full-time jobs."

And all of that for nothing, Cotton said, noting the CBO's projection that "we'll still have 31 million uninsured in 10 years - the same number President Obama used to sell the law in the first place."

Democrats and the president have repeatedly defended the law from the objections Cotton raises. They've noted that many canceled plans offered coverage too sparse to protect against financial hardship. They've altered regulations to enhance the law's flexibility and permit some consumers to retain access to a favored doctor. And they've emphasized that the CBO study predicting the equivalent of 2.5 million fewer jobs says many of the lost work hours would be forfeited voluntarily by people who are no longer tethered to their job for the sake of insurance.

Cotton criticized the law's minimum coverage standards, saying a constituent of his - "Elizabeth, from Pulaski County" - has seen her premiums rise 85 percent due to the law's mandates. "She’s now forced to pay for things she does not want and can’t afford, simply because Washington politicians and bureaucrats think they know what’s best for her and her family," Cotton said.

The result has been less take-home pay for Elizabeth and less money pouring into her local community, Cotton said.

"For Elizabeth – and countless other Arkansans just like her – Obamacare is anything but an amazing success story," he added. "Her story shows us that this law and the president’s policies are fundamentally flawed."

 The president, in his own address, again called on Congress to raise the minimum wage, marking the third time in three weeks that his address has stressed the importance of a living wage.

On Friday, the president hosted Democratic governors - in town for their annual meeting - at the White House to discuss, among other things, their push to raise the minimum wage in their states.

In his address, Mr. Obama commended the clothing retailer Gap for agreeing to raise wages for its employees, saying it "isn't just a good deed - it's good business and good for our economy. It helps reduce turnover, it boosts productivity, and it gives folks some more money to spend at local businesses."

He touted his own recent executive order raising the minimum wage to $10.10 for federal contractors entering into new contracts, but he said Congress needs to "finish the job."

"Right now, there’s a bill before Congress that would boost America’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour," he said. "That bill would lift wages for more than 16 million Americans without requiring a single dollar in new taxes or spending. But even though a majority of Democrats, independents and Republicans across the country support raising the minimum wage, Republicans in Congress don’t want to give it a vote."

"Hardworking Americans deserve better than 'no,'" the president said. "Let’s tell Congress to say 'yes.' Pass that bill. Give America a raise. Because here in America, no one who works hard should have to live in poverty - and everyone who works hard should have a chance to get ahead.