Democrats Whine On Health Care Vote

by Jonathan Chait | January 3, 2011

Republicans are going to hold a vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act. Here's the Democratic response:

Democrats said they plan to aggressively defend Obama's legislative accomplishments, chief among them the health-care bill.
"They're talking about wasting time repealing health care, when they know that the Senate and administration won't go along with it. Don't waste time. Create jobs," Rep. Steve Israel(D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Wow, is this weak. The point of this vote is to set the precedent for the future. Right now, Republicans understand they can't repeal health care reform. It's a meaningless vote at the moment. Their hope is that, at some point in the next few terms, they will control the government. At that point, they want to repeal health care reform. The purpose of holding a vote now is that anybody who casts a yes vote can be pressured into doing the same when it counts lest they be seen as posturing.

If you shrug it off as a meaningless symbolic vote, then why not go ahead and vote yes? Moderate Democrats may not objectively have much to fear -- anybody who survived the 2010 tidal wave can probably survive anything -- but it's the politician's nature to fear. You need to give them a reason to vote against repeal.

In fact, Democrats have a strong response. Republicans are voting to open up the donut hole for Medicare recipients and charge them higher rates, allow insurance companies to turn away anybody whose family has a preexisting condition, and all sorts of awful things.

There's a reason Republicans robotically insisted during the health care debate that they wanted to "start over" when their real position was to do nothing. It's because doing nothing was wildly unpopular. Now they're voting for the wildly unpopular do nothing plan, stripping away the pretense of having an alternative. Why not make them pay? Disingenuous whining about how we should be focused on jobs is not the way to do that.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/jonathan-chait/80720/democrats-whine-health-care-vote