Using the Affordable Care Act as a cudgel...against the GOP

Carla Axtman

One of the top plays in the 2010 Cycle GOP Playbook was the use of the Affordable Care Act (which they've so loving labeled "Obamacare"). This high drama, low information series of Republican communications blasting had them hanging the legislation anvil around the necks of Democrats. The Dems, of course, subsequently used their natural talents as completely ineffective on talking about good public policy to run screaming into the hills, going so far as to even adopt the GOP label of the legislation.

I presumed that more of this was in store for 2012, and perhaps it is.

But there appears to be at least one Democrat who has found a way to swing the cudgel in the other direction.

Greg Sargent, The Plum Line-Washington Post:

I’m not one of those who thinks a Supreme Court decision against health reform will carry any hidden silver linings for Dems. It could reinforce the narrative that Obama and Dems allowed health care to distract them from the economy, with nothing to show for it.

But it is worth pointing out that even if the law is struck down, the basic parameters of the health care debate itself will remain pretty much the same in the context of the presidential and Congressional campaigns.

And there may even be space for Dems to go on offense on the issue, even if a decision against Obamacare does carry clear negatives.

Case in point: This new ad from Heidi Heitkamp, the former North Dakota attorney general who’s now the Democratic candidate for Senate. This may be the first ad of the cycle in which a Democrat is not only aggressively defending the health law, but using it to attack the GOP opponent, in this case GOP Rep. Rick Berg:

It baffles me that Democrats haven't worked a cohesive messaging plan on this legislation. The benefits are obvious--and frankly necessary. What the Republicans have done borders on public policy malfeasance, yet they've been allowed to blissfully gain points with a citizenry that can't wade through the clutter.

Heidi Heitkamp is doing what the entire Democratic communications department (does this even exist?) should have been doing from the outset.

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    Good stuff, Carla.

    Incidentally, I think we Oregonians can claim Heidi a little -- she's a 1980 graduate of Lewis & Clark's law school.

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    Good on Ms. Heitkamp.

    Realistically, she had little choice: under attack by her opponent and multiple outside groups on the issue, she could either concede the point and continue to get pounded without a shield, or erect an actual defense by going back on the offensive.

    Since, you know, we sort of have the high ground here.

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    Mind you, she is not running pro-Obama which is wise in ND. However, she understands that with the exception of the individual mandate the provisions of ACA are very popular, and many would be quite irate to lose those benefits that are already or soon will be in place. Among them my brother-in-law whose two young adult daughters receive coverage through his work plan, and my sister-in-law who is recovering from cancer who doesn't want to be kicked to an untimely death without treatment if she can't get treatment. (And don't let anyone tell you that you can get cancer treatment in the ER.) And myself, on Medicare in another year and no longer receiving the donut coverage for prscription drugs. And all of those receiving rebate checks from their insurers this summer because of the limits on administrative costs.

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    Very well put. It would do the Democratic party well to defend the new healthcare law in every way possible. It's the right thing to do, and I think it's the politically wise thing to do, as well.

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    About time a Democrat got some balls!!! Good for her!!!

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    Oops, wait, we should have used the word VAGINA, seeing as how this writer is from Michigan and all!!! VAGINA!!! GET A VAGINA, Democrats!!!

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    From Twitter:

    Greg Sargent ‏@ThePlumLineGS Pew poll: The more people know about Obamacare, the more unhappy they'll be if SCOTUS tosses mandate:

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    I just want to see our reps walk their talk on Healthcare: they say they want Healthcare that costs less and does more, but trying to get them to support Safe Access to medical marijuana - which reduces prescription drug useage, doctor visits and hospital visits - is like talking to a wall. This issue will come up in the legislature this year, and it should be part of the Healthcare bills - but it most likely won't be.

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    "It baffles me that Democrats haven't worked a cohesive messaging plan on this legislation."

    This is a misdiagnosis Carla. First they need a cohesive moral vision of health care and the government's role in securing it to the people, and the private insurers' role in denying it. Then the message plan will become clear.

    However, the national Democratic Party for the most part are technocratic wieners and moral cowards who lack convictions and thus are unable to draw courage from them. As long as that is the case they are going to continue lurch around incoherently and lose six or seven times out of 10. And we are going to continue to get screwed.

    I can't believe that Nancy Pelosi is preparing to sell us out on Medicare and Social Security. Cat Food for Cats, Not for People!

    That's really not off-topic, the failure of message on ACA is a failure of vision and commitment that is part of a larger pattern.

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