Tuesday, March 30, 2010

To Repeal or Not To Repeal -- That Is the Question

This week history will be made when President Obama signs into law a health care reform bill that reduces costs, increases access, and provides critical insurance reforms that will put patients first. This legislation also makes Medicare more solvent and expands prescription drug coverage, all while reducing the deficit and reining in health care costs. Many of these reforms will go into effect immediately, while others will be phased in over the next several years. Even with millions and millions of Americans standing to benefit from this bill, the majority of Republican Senate candidates are on the record pledging to do everything in their power to take away health care reform if elected to the Senate. Will more Republican Senate candidates join them?

“Republicans in Washington want their Senate candidates to run on the repeal of health care reform, and many like Mark Kirk, Kelly Ayotte, and Trey Greyson have succumbed to the pressure from the establishment,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Communications Director Eric Schultz. “Others, like Mike Castle, Jane Norton, and John Boozman have dodged the question. We believe that every Republican should be clear on if they would support the repeal of health care reform if elected to the Senate. If Mike Castle is going to look voters in the eye and pledge to repeal health care reform which will have afforded coverage to 109,000 Delawareans, eliminated the doughnut hole for seniors, offered tax credits to small businesses, lowered the deficit, and ended appalling insurance practices – then good luck to him.”

Not only is the Republican strategy of running on pledging to take away health care reform bad policy, it is also bad politics. Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter calls running on a pledge to repeal health care reform “a losing strategy,” Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank says that the “politics of repeal may not work out as Republicans expect,” comparing the Republican strategy of repeal to Republican presidential nominee Alf Landon’s pledge to repeal Social Security if elected in 1936. Respected political analyst Larry Sabato says that Republicans run a risk on running on repeal, and even conservative commentator David Frum thinks the Republican strategy of repeal is bad politics.

Although many Republican Senate candidates have taken the pledge to repeal health care reform, other have stayed silent. Below is a list of Republican running for the Senate who have pledged to take away health care reform if elected to the Senate. Noticeably missing from this list is Congressman Mike Castle in Delaware, Carly Fiorina in California, Jane Norton in Colorado, Linda McMahon and Rob Simmons in Connecticut, Rob Portman in Ohio, Senator Chuck Grassley in Iowa, John Hoeven in North Dakota, Congressman John Boozman in Arkansas, and Dan Coats and John Hostettler in Indiana.

Florida – Charlie Crist, Marco Rubio

If successful: 4 million Florida residents lose health care; donut hole reappears for 565,000 seniors; 216,000 small businesses lose tax credit; appalling insurance practices reinstated