Democrats Brace For Potential Fallout After Health Overhaul Vote
House Democrats likely to confront difficult questions -- and even anger -- after their votes for health reform.
Los Angeles Times: Democrats are already facing flak for their health care reform votes and "(p)erhaps the most reliable chronicler of Democratic 'yes' votes was the National Republican Congressional Committee, which supports GOP House candidates. Each time another Democrat declared support for the bill, the committee gleefully blasted out a news release in the manner of a grim reaper counting souls." Among the Democrats targeted by the NRCC: Reps. Earl Pomeroy, of North Dakota; Harry Mitchell, of Arizona; and Betsy Markey of Colorado. "President Obama, in fact, mentioned (Rep. John Boccieri, an Ohio freshman) and Markey by name in remarks to House Democrats on Saturday, saying both represent 'tough' districts. 'I know this is a tough vote,' Obama said to the Democrats. 'And I am actually confident ... that it will end up being the smart thing to do politically, because I believe that good policy is good politics'" (Oliphant, 3/22).
The Associated Press: While Obama may have convinced a majority of lawmakers to vote for the health reform package, he must now sell the public on its merits. "Voters may not buy it. And that could mean a disastrous midterm election year for Obama and his fellow Democrats." Republicans also face uncertainty, the AP reports. "Some of the measure's elements go into effect immediately, such as coverage for children on their parents' policy until age 26 and prescription drug benefits for seniors. Republicans could be tagged obstructionists if the electorate likes these provisions and if the economy improves."Still, Democrats face anti-Washington sentiment and an electorate "disappointed by a president elected to change it. A year of bitter haggling and legislative maneuvering may feed into the argument. ... That's the reason some Democrats now worry about losing control of Congress" (Sidoti, 3/22).
Los Angeles Times, in a separate story: "This year figured to be tough for Democrats, whatever happened Sunday. The party holding the presidency almost always loses House seats in the first midterm vote. Since World War II the average is 16. Handicappers give Republicans a good shot at picking up several dozen House seats in November and a decent chance of winning the 40 needed to seize control of the chamber. The GOP needs 10 seats to take the Senate and, though that seems a much taller order, it is not out of the question." Democrats are hoping that the public will begin to see benefits from the legislation before the midterm elections and that that will help them retain seats in November (Barabak, 3/22).