That’s the question that should be asked of every single Republican who tries to run against health care reform in 2010.
Demagoging against the bill is one thing but actually pledging to repeal it is another; no Republican should be allowed to do the former without being asked whether or not they will do the latter.
The health care reform bill isn’t perfect, but it has a number of fundamentally good policies that will help tens of millions of Americans.
Health care reform will stop insurance companies from denying coverage for preexisting conditions. Do the Republicans want to repeal that?
Health care reform will reduce the deficit by more than $130 billion in the first decade and even more in subsequent decades. Do the Republicans want to repeal that?
Health care reform will provide middle class individuals and families with subsidies to help them buy health insurance. Do the Republicans want to repeal that?
Health care reform will provide coverage to 31 million Americans who currently lack it. Do the Republicans want to repeal that?
Will any Republican actually stand up and say they want to do so much damage to America’s middle class by repealing health care reform?
I think that ‘will you repeal it?’ puts the GOP between a rock and a hard place–the rock of wanting to oppose the Democratic health care reform plan but the hard place of not wanting to scrap policies that will help so many middle class Americans.
So any Democrat who worries that their support for health care reform may hurt hem in 2010 should just keep four words on the tip of their tongue: ‘will you repeal it?’
UPDATE: The Huffington Post reports on the perils Republicans will face if they run on repealing the bill:
If the GOP wants to debate the repeal of reform, Democrats aren’t exactly quivering. According to data compiled by the White House, states with several key Senate races stand to gain the most with the passage of reform legislation — statistics that will be pointed out ad nauseam once the election season heats up.
* In Illinois, for example, “1.8 million residents who do not currently have insurance and 612,000 residents who have nongroup insurance could get affordable coverage through the health insurance exchange.”
* In Colorado, “826,000 residents who do not currently have insurance and 345,000 residents who have nongroup insurance could get affordable coverage through the health insurance exchange.”
* In Florida, “4 million residents who do not currently have insurance and 1.1 million residents who have nongroup insurance could get affordable coverage through the health insurance exchange.”
* And in Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty’s home state, “519,000 residents who do not currently have insurance and 356,000 residents who have nongroup insurance could get affordable coverage through the health insurance exchange.”
“If a Republican Senate candidate is going to look his voters in the eye next November, and pledge if elected to roll back historic reform which will have ended appalling insurance practices, afforded coverage to hundreds of thousands constituents, brought down costs for families and small businesses and lowered the deficit, then I volunteer to help that campaign make pitch calls to reporters,” said Eric Schultz, press secretary for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
UPDATE II: Nobel laureate Paul Krugman examines the polling data and explains why running on repealing health care reform would be a mistake:
It’s true that the health care bill is unpopular. But as many people have pointed out, a significant fraction of those who say they disapprove of the bill disapprove from the left. And more generally, answers to the question “Do you approve of the Senate bill?” are not the same as answers to the question, “Do you want to roll back what’s in the bill?”
People aren’t wildly pro-reform, but they’re more pro than anti, even now. So my guess is that campaigning for repeal is a bad strategy.
And that’s no surprise. The GOP remains convinced of a lot of strange things — notably, that they were punished in the last two elections because of excess spending, which I guarantee you wasn’t a factor at all.
[Health care reform] will probably help Democrats, for two reasons: first, because people won’t want it reversed, and second, because this time Democrats actually got something done. My sense about 1994 is that at least one piece of the problem was the sense of Clinton as a hapless incompetent, with the failure of HCR as a key part of the narrative. At least Obama won’t have that problem.