Yes, Obamacare remains unpopular. But as I’ve noted here before, it’s unclear whether pushing for full repeal of the health law — after it’s been upheld by the High Court as constitutional — is really good politics, beyond juicing the GOP base. How will independents and moderates react to the GOP drive to fight this battle a third time?
If this New York Times report is to be believed, even some Republican strategists aren’t so sure this is such a great idea:
A House vote to fully repeal President Obama’s health care law was supposed to be the coup de grâce for “Obamacare,” a final sweeping away of a law that Republicans thought the Supreme Court would gut and leave for dead.
Instead, the House on Wednesday will take up the repeal measure after the Affordable Care Act’s constitutionality was upheld, and amid growing misgivings that relitigating the issue now will make Republicans seem out of touch — especially when party leaders are still without an alternative.
“Anytime Republicans are debating taxes and the economy, we’re winning,” said a veteran Republican campaign consultant who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid publicly crossing his party’s leadership. “Anytime we’re debating health care, they’re winning.”
The Times claims there are “cracks” in GOP unity on the repeal push. I’d be very suprprised if there are any serious defections in Wednesday’s repeal vote. But there are a few signs here and there that are suggestive.
In North Dakota, where Dem Heidi Heitkamp ran ads hitting her GOP opponent, Rep. Rick Berg, for supporting repeal, Berg suddenly came out for individual provisions within Obamacare, such as the ban on discrimination against people with preexisting conditions. Freshman GOP Rep. Frank Guinta of New Hampshire responded to the Supreme Court ruling by claiming he was ready to work with Democrats to amend the law, rather than blow it up. GOP Rep. Charlie Bass, while still backing repeal, has come out in support of some of the law’s provisions.
And the Times story reports that Republican consultants are privately uncertain what repeal gets them. Base voters are already energized against Obama, but the Times says those consultants are wondering how a “rehashing of the health care debate will affect independent voters.”
Meanwhile, it’s hard not to notice the contrast between 2010 and 2012. Last time around, many Dem candidates were fleeing the health law. This time, Dems are still approaching the law with caution, but the SCOTUS ruling has given them a weapon; they appear to be pretty united behind the message that it’s time for Republicans to accept that Obamacare is the law of the land and move on. Nancy Pelosi’s office released this video today making the case: