Some Republicans Shifting Campaign Focus Beyond Health Care; Others Discuss Repeal
"Republicans had promised to make the fall elections a reprise of the bitter, exhausting debate over what they call 'Obamacare,'" The Boston Globe reports. "But two months before the vote, the GOP has adopted a more nuanced approach and folded the issue into broader attacks on the Democrats' handling of the economy. When Republicans bring up health care, they tend to list it as just one example in a litany of complaints about the 'misplaced priorities' and 'overreaching' of Democrats. Even many Democrats are downplaying the new sweeping overhaul, once trumpeted as a signature accomplishment, because they are skittish about being portrayed as advocates of big government. ... The reason, analysts say, is clear: Jobs and the economy dominate the concerns of Americans, particularly those coveted independent voters who will tip individual midterm elections" (Arsenault, 9/11).
But The New York Times identifies at least one race where health care is playing an outsize role. "Here in northeastern Ohio, as around the country, the political impact of the health care vote has been eclipsed by voters' concerns about the economy and jobs. But [John] Boccieri, a freshman Democrat who supported the final bill after first voting against a more expensive House version, still finds himself defending the law at stop after stop. Because Mr. Boccieri, along with seven other Democrats, switched his vote to ensure the bill's passage, his task is more challenging than most. Not only does he face opposition from those who dislike the health care law on its merits, but he has stoked cynicism about his independence from President Obama and the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, both of whom are unpopular in this conservative-leaning district" (Sack, 9/10).
In several stories, Politico notes that several Republican members of Congress say health care will be on the Republicans' agenda if they take control of Congress.
In the first: "Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) on Saturday repeated a Republican threat to withhold funding for health care reform if the party takes control of the House after the Nov. 2 elections. ... Speaking at a conference for the socially conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition in Washington, Price accused Democrats of being 'possessed' with the idea of comprehensive health care. 'They were so possessed - so possessed - with passing this signature piece of legislation,' he said. ... Talk of defunding, rather than repealing, health reform - along with the possibility of a government shutdown - comes as Republicans ponder the limits of what they can do even with historic gains in the elections and control of both the House and Senate as long as Obama remains in the White House." (Aujla, 9/11).
In separate story, Politico reported that Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., the vice chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told the same gathering: "When we take the majority, we're going to assume that the American people have revolted, or whatever, against the Obama agenda, the progressive agenda, for Washington." (Hohmann, 9/10).
And, Politico also reports that "White House senior adviser David Axelrod said Sunday on NBC's 'Meet the Press' that he thinks voters will eventually warm to health-care reform. 'I think that health care, over time, is going to become more popular,' he told David Gregory. 'But people are focused on this economy right now they've got anxiety about this economy. That's what's driving the vote right now'" (Allen, 9/12).