Home National Politics Could Cooch’s Crusade for Health Care Reform Repeal Backfire?

Could Cooch’s Crusade for Health Care Reform Repeal Backfire?

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Could Ken Cuccinelli and his right-wingnut allies’ crusade against health care reform provide a boost to Democrats this fall? It’s starting to appear this could be the case.

Top Republicans are increasingly worried that GOP candidates this fall might be burned by a fire that’s roaring through the conservative base: demand for the repeal of President Barack Obama’s new health care law.

It’s fine to criticize the health law and the way Democrats pushed it through Congress without a single GOP vote, these party leaders say. But focusing on its outright repeal carries two big risks.

Repeal is politically and legally unlikely, and grass-roots activists may feel disillusioned by a failed crusade. More important, say strategists from both parties, a fiercely repeal-the-bill stance might prove far less popular in a general election than in a conservative-dominated GOP primary, especially in states such as Illinois and California.

Democrats are counting on that scenario…

Yes, we are counting on that scenario. Which is why I say: Go Cooch Go!

  • Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.  There are Republicans out there who genuinely believe that the health care bill is a major catastrophe, so I understand why they would feel the need to fight to repeal it no matter what.  After all, many Democrats genuinely felt that way about the war in Iraq.

    But sometimes principles do cost you at the ballot box.  Protesting the Iraq War cost Dems in 2002 and 2004.  Still had to be done, though.  (And that hasn’t been repealed either!)

    I do take some satisfaction that all of the warnings that the health care bill was going to be a millstone around Democrats necks this fall is already fading as common wisdom.  Not that I think for a moment that we won’t face big challenges this fall — just that I never thought the passing of the health care bill changed that, despite all Republican “concern” to the contrary.  The only Dem scenario I could see was that NOT passing the health care bill was going to make a lot of Democrats very very angry at other Democrats.

  • TomPaine

    UW panelists say lawsuits challenging health bill lack merit: The University of Washington billed it as a debate among distinguished law faculty over whether the new federal health-care law is constitutional…

    By Nick Perry

    Times higher education reporter

    The University of Washington billed it as a debate among distinguished law faculty over whether the new federal health-care law is constitutional.

    But while the four panelists at a packed event Tuesday may have differed on some of the finer points, they all agreed on the big question: They said the new law passes constitutional muster and that various lawsuits arguing the opposite – including the one joined last week by state Attorney General Rob McKenna – have little merit or chance of success.

    Even John McKay, the former Republican U.S. attorney for Western Washington (who was forced out in 2006 under contentious circumstances) said that while he sympathized with some of the political issues in play, he thought the lawsuits lacked merit. In fact, he questioned the timing and thrust of the cases: “One way to say it is, that this has to be seen as a political exercise,” he said.

    Moderator Hugh Spitzer noted the lack of a vigorous dissenting voice.

    “I will say that we tried very hard to get a professor who could come and who thinks this is flat-out unconstitutional,” he said. “But there are relatively few of them, and they are in great demand.”

    Spitzer, an expert in state constitutional law and a UW affiliate professor, said afterward that organizers even considered setting up some kind of video conference to provide the counter perspective. But in the end, he said, the lack of professors taking that position spoke to the merits of the arguments. He said organizers did not invite McKenna because they wanted to stick with academicians.

    Sitting on the panel alongside McKay, who these days teaches constitutional law at Seattle University, were UW professors Stewart Jay, Sallie Sanford and Kathryn Watts.

    McKay explained the reasoning behind some of the arguments in the legal cases filed in Florida and Virginia – namely, that the federal government has overstepped its authority by forcing Americans to buy health insurance and that the federal government is illegally forcing states to be a part of the scheme.

    Jay said that when it comes to the first argument, the federal government has “the power to tax and spend” and the ability to regulate interstate commerce – adding that health care, which makes up one-sixth of the economy, undoubtedly constitutes vital commerce. And he said that states aren’t being forced into the scheme because they could opt out of accepting federal health dollars.

    Sanford said that when some people don’t have health insurance, it changes the cost for everyone else. She cited state estimates that people who pay for health insurance are coughing up about $1,000 a year to help cover those who rely on charity care or who don’t pay their medical bills.

    The panelists seemed to agree that if any of the cases make it to the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices would be hard-pressed to find the law unconstitutional, given some recent precedents they have set in other cases.

    Yet anything is possible – and it all makes for a lively national debate.

    McKay said it is an exciting time for anyone teaching constitutional law and that the confrontation over health care – including violence and threats of violence – raises the stakes for the nation.

    Nick Perry: 206-515-5639 or nperry@seattletimes.com

  • TomPaine

    “Repeal is politically and legally unlikely, and grass-roots activists may feel disillusioned by a failed crusade. More important, say strategists from both parties, a fiercely repeal-the-bill stance might prove far less popular in a general election than in a conservative-dominated GOP primary, especially in states such as Illinois and California.

    Democrats are counting on that scenario…”

    In Virginia, at least, “Democrats are counting on that scenario…” is a big mistake. Should Cooch lose the lawsuit, the teaparty folks will praise Cooch for taking on the government and condemn the “socialist” courts for deciding against the will of the “people.” This suit is a no lose situation for Cooch.