Health Overhaul Proposals Test Limits Of Democrats’ UnityPolitico reports that votes on a health care bill are subjecting some Democrats to fierce attacks - from other Democrats. "For some of 39 House Democrats who opposed the bill, there are protests outside their offices and promises of retribution. For others, there are attempts to shut off their campaign money spigot. Still more are about to get drilled in a television ad campaign paid for by Democratic donors." Advertisements, primary challenges and other signs of protest are being considered as ways to express frustration with the votes (Isenstadt, 11/10).
The Christian Science Monitor reports that "Three days after the House's historic passage of comprehensive healthcare reform, Democrats are grappling with the downside of being a 'big tent' party: Their coalition is diverse, and internal tensions rise to the boiling point when major legislation is on the line." MoveOn.org and NARAL are among the groups that are playing a role in this intra-party fight. MoveOn.org, for instance, has spent $500,000 on ads critical of Democratic "no" votes on health reform. "A spokeswoman for MoveOn.org Political Action, Ilyse Hogue, denies that the organization is promoting a split in the Democratic Party over healthcare reform by running ads against some members" (Feldmann, 11/10).
McClatchy Newspapers reports that "a number of the Democratic members of Congress in conservative districts are running into" difficulty on health care votes. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Ky., a target of Republican and Democratic criticism who voted "no" on the health reform bill, is a case in point. "Indeed, scarcely had votes been cast Saturday night than the conservative Americans for Limited Government sent an e-mail to its members and media outlets condemning Chandler for supporting the measure that would create a government-run health insurance plan." The organization had to make a retraction of the e-mail. Chandler has also been the subject of primary challenge chatter from other Democrats (Abdullah, 11/11).
In the meantime, "Republicans are looking to resurrect the angry town halls of August in the last few weeks of November," Politico reports in a separate story. "Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander said Republicans are 'quietly' planning some 50 in-person and telephone town hall gatherings over the next three weeks to drum up opposition to Democratic health care bills." Senate Republicans are seeking to seize on new poll numbers that reveal that more Americans are worried their health care costs would increase under pending health care reform legislation. "The Senate Republican Conference sought to seize on those concerns and distributed talking points to its members Tuesday, saying that the Democrats' bill would lead to higher premiums, more debt, increased taxes and a 'Washington takeover'" (Raju, 11/10).
These recent developments have some wondering if bipartisanship on health reform is dead, ABC News reports. "Now, after only one Republican supported the House bill and few of them are inclined to endorse the Senate version, the spirit of bipartisanship - which helped forge nearly every major piece of legislation, from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to tax policy overhaul in 1986 and No Child Left Behind in 2001 - appears largely absent from the process" (Dwyer, 11/10). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.