Politics And Health Law: Dems’ Divergent Strategies; Mixed Polls On ‘Repeal And Replace’
Some Democratic candidates are defending their votes, or refining their message, as news outlets cover the health reform aspects of the campaigns.
Politico: "Nervous Democrats are grasping for a new message on their party's health care reform bill: Give us another shot, and we'll get it right this time." Senate candidates Alexi Giannoulias (Ill.), Joe Manchin (W. Va.) and Jack Conway (Ky.) "weren't in Congress when Democrats pushed through the reform bill earlier this year. But even some Democratic incumbents who voted for the bill are now saying that it's time to go back in and change it. 'Is the bill perfect? Absolutely not,' Rep. Brad Ellsworth said during a debate with other Indiana Senate candidates Monday. 'Will it be added to and deleted from? It will.'"
"A Democratic leadership aide sounded a note of caution. 'Democrats need to be a little more careful in terms of the language messaging they're using around it. There's no sense in espousing what Republicans are saying about repeal,' the aide told POLITICO. The same aide, however, warned against interpreting the new messages as a signal of distancing, insisting that any large piece of legislation will have its share of fixes and tweaks along the way" (Kliff, 10/16).
MSNBC.com: "In Thursday night's debate between Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Republican challenger Dino Rossi, the most revealing moment came when a questioner asked Murray 'How much of the 2,600-page legislation did you actually read?' referring to the health care bill Congress passed this year. 'Not only did I read it but I helped write it,' Murray replied confidently. ... Rossi responded to Murray by saying business owners were telling him that the new law was driving up the cost of health coverage for their workers. ... [Murray's answer] was revealing because it showed that, unlike most Democratic incumbents elsewhere, she sees the health care bill as an election year benefit, not a liability" (Krupa, 10/15).
The Times-Picayune covered a debate, to be televised Sunday night among three of the candidates for a congressional seat in Louisiana: incumbent Republican Rep. Joseph Cao, Democrat Cedric Richmond and independent Anthony Marquize: "Richmond cited several bills that Cao opposed -- the final version of the health care overhaul, a fair pay act and measures to boost the economy and small business -- as the sort of Obama-backed initiatives that he would support. Marquize asked Richmond how he could support a federal health care overhaul package that he said 'would allow babies to be killed,' ... Cao was the lone member of the GOP to vote for the House version of the health care bill before he opposed the final incarnation for fear if would expand funding for abortion" (Krupa, 10/15).
Politics Daily: "One obvious way to take some measure of whether the [GOP's] 'repeal and replace' strategy has traction with the public is to look at the polls on the subject. The Kaiser Family Foundation... took a look at eight major national polls on the issue and finds the results are 'all over the lot.' ... roughly, five of the eight polls looked at by Kaiser fall in the column of pro-repeal sentiment (some by small margins) while three do not. (Drake, 10/15).
NPR reports that "the most likely reason for the seeming divergence of opinion is the how the various questions were asked. For example, by asking about repeal without first asking people if they support or oppose the law in general, the surveys 'are to some extent picking up a generic opposition to the bill that doesn't have another channel to flow through,' [the Kaiser folks] wrote. Then there are wording differences. 'Clearly, when respondents are reminded that the newly passed law may need some time to work, or perhaps need to be modified, they are less interested in overturning it in the short term,' the Kaiser paper says" (Rovner, 10/15).
Related KHN story: Republican Pollster Opposes 'Repeal And Replace' Health Law Strategy (Werber Serafini, 10/14).
The Associated Press: "Grasping to keep control of Congress, Democratic leaders are turning their backs on some of their staunchest supporters in the House and propping up stronger candidates who have routinely defied them ... Raw politics - the drive to win a House-majority 218 seats, no matter how - is increasingly trumping policy and loyalty in these decisions, as Democrats shift money and attention in the closing days of the campaign toward races they can win ... The House campaign arm has in recent days canceled millions of dollars worth of advertising it had planned for [Rep. Steve] Driehaus and other endangered Democrats including his fellow Ohioan Mary Jo Kilroy, Suzanne Kosmas in Florida, Betsy Markey in Colorado and Steve Kagen in Wisconsin. All of them voted for President Barack Obama's health care overhaul" (Hirschfeld Davis, 10/16).
The Associated Press, in a separate story, fact-checked some ads, including this one: "CROSS-WIRED CROSSROADS: American Crossroads, a group launched under the direction of former Bush administration operative Karl Rove, is disparaging Senate and House Democratic candidates in an aggressive series of ads twisting the facts. In one, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet is described as 'the deciding vote on Obamacare,' an overhaul that meant 'we got tax increases, billions in Medicare cuts and record deficits.'"
"THE FACTS: Bennet was no more the deciding vote on the health care law than were the 59 other senators who voted for it. ... The new law slows projected increases in Medicare payments to providers but expands benefits in the traditional program instead of cutting them. ... The health care law raises Medicare taxes on earnings over $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for married couples and imposes a tax on unearned income for richer people" (Margasak and Woodward, 10/15).