Republicans ready health-repeal agenda, Democrats continue push
Kaiser Health News' "Health on the Hill," examines advertisements about the new health law in a video conversation. "Many Democrats, concerned that voters view the measure in a negative light, continue to not mention health reform. Republicans, predicted to take control of the House and increase their ranks in the Senate, continue to criticize the law as too large, too expensive and intrusive into Americans' lives." KHN includes videos of some of the political ads. There is also a transcript (Carey, Pianin and Judd, 10/27).
PBS Newshour: "This election season, spending on anti-health reform ads has outpaced spending on pro-reform ads more than five to one. On the federal campaign level, candidates and outside groups have spent nearly $92 million on ads attacking reform, while voices in favor of reform have spent just over $19 million, according to Evan Tracey of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political ad spending" (Winermam, 10/27).
The Associated Press: Republicans, "ever more confident of their chances of winning control of the House and possibly even the Senate, have begun plotting a 2011 agenda topped by a push for more than $100 billion in spending cuts, tax reductions and attempts to undo key parts of President Barack Obama's health care and financial regulation laws." Republican plans to repeal the health law would likely not get past Obama's veto power, but Republicans are still considering denying Democrats the money they need to implement the overhaul (Hirschfeld Davis, 10/27).
Reuters: "Major Republican gains could mean years of hold-ups on implementing the legislation — but if Democrats manage to prevail against the odds, they may reward their base with even more extensive reforms, Robert Blendon and John Benson of the Harvard School of Public Health said." The pair analyzed 17 major polls and found that "broken down by party, 67 percent of Democrats said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported the new law, while 72 percent of Republicans said they would be more likely to vote against such a candidate" (Fox, 10/27).
The Wall Street Journal: "A majority of likely voters in the most competitive House districts support repealing the Democrats' health overhaul, according to recent polling data. The figures are one of the sharpest signals yet that Democrats are unlikely to translate their signature legislative achievement into success inside the voting booth. ... Some of the most embattled House Democrats are the five moderates who voted 'yes' on the final health-care bill after voting 'no' on the House version in November 2009." One who has tempered his support for the new law is North Dakota Democrat Rep. Earl Pomeroy who "in recent weeks had described his vote for the health bill as a way of protecting Medicare and rural hospitals" (Adamy, 10/28).
The Wall Street Journal, in a separate story, reports that Democrats are stressing social issues like abortion rights in a bid to attract female voters. "In California's Senate race, Sen. Barbara Boxer says Republican Carly Fiorina's opposition to abortion would turn women into criminals, a contention the Fiorina campaign calls 'outlandish.' In Colorado, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet accuses his GOP opponent, Ken Buck, of wanting to ban common forms of birth control. Mr. Buck says he has changed his position" (Meckler and Belkin, 10/28).
Shots - NPR's Health Blog: "Three top measurers of what the public thinks — Whit Ayers of Ayers McHenry & Associates, Stan Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, and Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners — gathered in a Washington hotel [Wednesday] to offer up their preview of what impact the health law will have next week. … First up, GOP pollster Ayers. Democrats, he said, are 'in a lot of denial' about the health law. 'Their problem is not their marketing. Their problem is what they did.' … Lake, meanwhile, pointed out that while many people say they dislike the overall law, when people are asked about specific elements, they are much more enthusiastic" (Rovner, 10/27).
McClatchy reports on why the GOP has found the health law a useful tool to push its message. "'Health care reform is the signature accomplishment of the Obama administration,' said Republican strategist Neil Newhouse. 'For a lot of people, it epitomizes big government and wasteful spending. It's everything they hate about government rolled into one.' The message appears to be resonating, even though polls repeatedly show people like many provisions of the new health care law" (Lightman, 10/27).
The Hill: President Obama told radio host Michael Smerconish Wednesday that negative ads have made it "very difficult" for Democrats who supported the legislation. "The president blamed 'misinformation' during the congressional debate over healthcare for having negatively cast the reforms, misinformation that Obama said had carried over through present day. But Obama expressed confidence that, as the reforms in the bill gradually go into effect, the public's negative opinion of the legislation would fade" (O'Brien, 10/27).
National Journal: In an interview with The Daily Show's Jon Stewart, Obama "got snarky" about the health overhaul. "But Obama, the first sitting president to do an interview with Stewart on the Daily Show, spent a sizeable portion of their time seriously defending what he said many would consider the most significant legislation in the country's history. ... Obama directly challenged Stewart on the notion that the health care law was 'timid,' pointing to the law’s benefits" (McCarthy, 10/28).
Politico reports that Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said Wednesday that Democrats have lost the message war on the health overhaul. "'When I ask people about, for example, the health care bill, they say, "well, the health care bill, I like a lot of the provisions, but it's going to add to the deficit,"' Rendell said. 'No, it isn't … The CBO says over the next 20 years, it will reduce the deficit by $1 trillion,' [he added.] The term-limited governor and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee said that health care is just one of a number of issues on which Democrats have struggled to effectively make their case" (Barr, 10/27).
Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent news service. It is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care-policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.