Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Playing Rough?

The House Republicans have scheduled a vote on January 12 to completely repeal the healthcare bill passed last March. But if they do, they will be in for a fight, according to Greg Sargent.

In an interview with me just now, Dem Rep. Anthony Weiner, who is one of the best there is at framing liberal arguments in pugnacious terms, said Dems are leaning towards seeing this fight as an opportunity, and appear to be eschewing their typical “fetal position” on health reform.

Separately, in another development, Dem Rep. Peter Welch — last seen leading the charge on behalf of House liberals against the Obama tax cut deal — is circulating a letter among Dems vowing to introduce amendments to the GOP’s repeal bill forcing votes directly on the Affordable Care Act’s most popular provisions.


Weiner allowed that Dems were divided over how tough to make their response. “There is disagreement about this in our caucus,” Weiner said. “Some people want to stay in a fetal position under their desks whenever health care comes up as a topic, but we aren’t shying away from this challenge.”

Weiner framed the argument Dems should make this way: “Republicans are against a lot of things, but they are for kicking young Americans off their parents’ insurance plans, for reinstating copayments for preventive measures like cancer screenings, and for denying children coverage based on preexisting conditions.”

First, it’s good to see that there is at least some talk among the Democrats about actually standing up for what they believe in. Second, since they did such a lousy job of explaining the bill’s advantages when they were working to pass it, now they get a second chance to sell it, especially if they can frame it as “this is what you’re getting, and the Republicans want to take it away.”

Another tactic will be to point out that the Republicans campaigned all last year on jobs jobs jobs, and the Democrats lost in part because they seemed to spend more time talking about and passing healthcare than doing anything about the economy. Now the first thing the Republicans want to do is talk about healthcare. What about jobs jobs jobs?

Since there’s no chance the Senate will repeal healthcare, this makes it a moot point, but it’s a good one for the Democrats to finally start fighting back on.