Parties Vie For Political Momentum After Health Vote
The health care debate has already become a proxy for 2010 election fights, with candidates in both parties wielding the issue, according to The Wall Street Journal: "In Kentucky, the two leading Democrats seeking an open Senate seat are battling over who has been most committed to the health-care law." Meanwhile, "[two] potential 2012 presidential candidates, Republicans Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney, both issued fund-raising appeals to their supporters, saying they would use the money to fight for the GOP position on the health-care law" (Wallsten, 3/25).
Reuters: "Democrats are mounting an aggressive effort to gain political credit for passage of the U.S. healthcare overhaul and put Republicans on the defensive ahead of November elections. A $5 million TV and radio advertising campaign is being waged by several groups that back President Barack Obama in some 35 congressional districts to thank lawmakers who voted for the healthcare bill and target Republicans who opposed it. ... The developments reflected a coordinated Democratic strategy to try to gain maximum advantage from the passage of healthcare and limit predicted losses in November elections" (Holland, 3/24).
The Associated Press "While Democrats were shaping and delivering health care change, Republicans waged a skilled and largely successful campaign to demonize the whole business. They still are, still on message. That's not difficult when the central message is simple: No. Answering simplicity with complexity is a political loser. That's the challenge for President Barack Obama and the Democrats as they to persuade Americans that a bill the size of a telephone book is in the national interest and their own."
"So health care may well be a Democratic liability in the off-year elections, always a difficult test for the party in White House power. Then again, Republicans have been known to overreach and foment a backlash, as when they blocked the budget and the government shut down temporarily in 1995 - an unintended favor for President Bill Clinton" (Mears, 3/24).
Politico looks at "the five things to watch for clues to whether reform is political gold - or a political albatross - for President Barack Obama" (Allen and Budoff Brown, 3/25).
Jim Lehrer of PBS News Hour interviewed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who said, "I see the way we did health care reform as a model of getting something done for the American people. It is -- we reached for bipartisanship. We tried to find common ground. But, if we can't, that doesn't mean we don't go forward. It's urgent for the American people in terms of their personal health, their personal finances. It's urgent for the American people in general, as taxpayers, because we will save $1.3 trillion, as we improve quality, lower costs, expand access, and hold the insurance companies accountable." When asked about political consequences of the vote, Pelosi said, "I have said, if passing this bill means I have to walk out of my office that night, it would be with the greatest pride. But I don't any intention of losing the Democratic majority" (Lehrer, 3/24).