Democrats Strategize By Touting Early Benefits But Face Some Tough Fights
Politico: Democrats enlisted a reliable strategy by "front-loading their legislation with consumer-friendly, insurance industry reforms and other fixes they hope will generate support for the new law in the run-up to the pivotal midterm elections." Democrats are hoping that a skeptical public will come around to their side of the equation, but Republicans say voters will remember all the legislation, not just part of it, when they vote in November. Dems see a glimmer of hope in some early signs. "At the administration's request, insurers agreed to implement two reforms early. One prohibits insurers from rescinding individual policies except in cases of fraud; the other allows adults under the age of 26 to remain on their parents' policies. The freedom for parents to extend coverage of their adult children already has proved to be far more popular than supporters expected. It's the rule that AFL-CIO members ask about most, said legislative representative JoAnn Volk" (Haberkorn, 5/17).
The Hill: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi considers health reform to be her proudest achievement so far. "Pelosi made the statements in a commencement speech Saturday at Mills College, a women's liberal arts college in Oakland, Calif. She was flanked by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), a Mills College graduate who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus." Following a familiar message from Democrats touting early deliverables on health reform, Pelosi "also promoted the impact she believes the new health insurance law is having on the lives of American families and young adults" among other provisions (Crabtree, 5/15).
The Washington Post: Meanwhile, conservatives are advancing ideas of their own "in journals, op-ed pages and blogs." For instance, "Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) wants to dramatically change Social Security and Medicare. He says that the country can't afford the scheduled increases in benefits, and he proposes remaking the system for future beneficiaries while keeping the current benefits in place for people already 55 or older." He would also turn Medicare into a voucher system in which people can then buy their own private insurance coverage (Bacon, 5/16).
Politico, in a second story: House Democrats who initially opposed the health reform plan but ultimately supported it are among the most vulnerable incumbents in the upcoming midterm election. "[N]one is building a reelection message around their famous vote." The legislators include Reps. Allen Boyd, of Florida; Betsy Markey, of Colorado; John Boccieri, of Ohio; Scott Murphy, of New York; and Suzanne Kosmas, of Florida (Kraushaar, 5/17).
The New York Times: Sen. Blanche Lincoln is among the Senate's most vulnerable Democratic incumbents. "Republicans and conservative Democrats have excoriated Mrs. Lincoln for supporting President Obama's health care overhaul. ... Meanwhile, liberal Democrats have hammered her for opposing a government-run insurance option," The Times reports. "Republicans smell blood in the water. The leading Republican candidate in Tuesday's primary is Representative John Boozman, a conservative who is running against the health care overhaul and the stimulus bill" (McKinley, 5/16).