Upon the passage of President Obama’s health care legislation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and other members of Congress hailed the achievement as one of historic significance. A little more than six months after Obama signed the bill into law, however, the legislation is playing an overwhelmingly negative role for Democrats in the midterm Congressional elections
Dems Call for Fix
Devon Herrick, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas, Texas, says Democrats are shying away from the legislation on the campaign trail for good reason.
“Nearly 84 percent of the population is covered by health insurance, and most people like what they have. Universal health coverage has never been an issue most voters feel passionately about,” Herrick said. “On the other hand, voters do feel passionately about having a health care law shoved down their throats. It will motivate more conservative Republicans than liberal Democrats.”
Hill Democrats, said Herrick, felt the urgency to pass health care reform as an example of their ability to lead and get things done—but now are promising to “fix” the measure. Herrick cited the examples of Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, running for Obama’s former Illinois Senate seat, and Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway, running in Kentucky.
“I want to reform it and fix it and make sure that it works for small businesses and their families,” said Giannoulias on the October 17 edition of TV’s Meet the Press.
“I’d like to fix health care,” Conway said in an October debate with Republican nominee Rand Paul. “He wants to repeal it. And I think that’s a stark difference.”
Republicans on Attack
Dr. Hal Scherz, a pediatric urological surgeon on the faculty of Emory University Medical School and president and cofounder of Docs4PatientCare, says health care is going to be a huge issue in the upcoming elections.
“It’s already a central issue among the GOP. The Democrats are running away from health care in droves. They pretend that they were not for ObamaCare, but the public remembers,” says Scherz.
In Kansas, Republican Sen. Sam Brownback, who is running for governor, and Kansas Senate majority leader Derek Schmidt (R-Independence), who is running for attorney general, have both renewed their pledge to fight against the new federal health care laws, including possible litigation. In Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial race, Republican state attorney general Tom Corbett has joined several other state attorneys general challenging the constitutionality of the mandate.
“Now the only candidates running on health care are Republicans, who are campaigning on repeal of the contentious law,” Herrick said.
GOP Can’t Guarantee Repeal
Herrick stresses that even if Republicans were to take back control of the House and the Senate, they would not be able to override the president’s veto, and there is “no chance” Obama will agree to annul his signature legislation. That leaves the battle to the states.
“Governors have the power of the bully pulpit. If enough governors oppose the mandate, senators and members of Congress are more likely to repeal or modify the PPACA” and possibly overcome a veto, says Herrick.
According to Scherz, the plan has already become politically toxic, and that is unlikely to change.
“Every single day, a new nail gets driven into the coffin of ObamaCare,” said Scherz. “We’re discovering a new problem or unintended consequence every single day. Already, there are 40 exemptions for corporations that said they couldn’t continue their employee coverage under this law. As a country, we’re realizing this isn’t good for us.”
Scherz maintains the legislation’s opponents will make up a significant presence on Election Day.
“Ever since Nancy Pelosi said, ‘We have to pass the bill so we can tell you what’s in it,’ we’ve been finding out what a farce this bill is. People have realized that they’ve been scammed,” Scherz said. “Most Americans reject this law, and the percentage is higher among doctors. When they recall all the shenanigans and backroom deals that occurred between April 2009 and April 2010, I expect those who are angry to remember to vote on November 2.”
Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) writes from Dallas, Texas.