Except they are not. Let me say that again. Democrats are not running away from health care reform. EJ Dionne of Washington Post tells us where the media establishment can shove it.
Here is another piece of conventional wisdom about this year's election that is being rendered patently false. It's been said over and over that no Democrats are running on the health-care bill. Actually, more and more of them are proudly campaigning on what the plan has achieved -- and they should.Like who, Mr. Dionne? Like Russ Feingold - a progressive Senator in the political fight of his life.
In a fight for his political life in Wisconsin, Sen. Russ Feingold went on the air last week with an advertisement that explicitly defends provisions in the bill and attacks his opponent, Republican Ron Johnson, for wanting to repeal it.Here is the ad Sen. Feingold is running:
Here's a transcript:
Cheryl, voter: Sen. Feingold has always been on our side, fighting the insurance companies.Right now, Feingold trails his GOP opponent, Ron Johnson, by 10 points. Speaking of which, can you show Feingold some love?
Milton, voter: But Ron Johnson won't even get in the ring for us.
Pauline, voter: Russ fought to stop insurance companies from denying Wisconsin children health care due to pre-existing conditions.
John, voter: Mr. Johnson would put insurance companies back in control.
Jane, voter: Letting them raise premiums and increase our costs whenever they want.
Jill, voter: Ron Johnson, hands off my health care.
Pauline, voter: Hands off my health care.
Sen. Feingold: I'm Russ Feingold and I approve this message because you deserve a Senator who's on your side.
Feingold is not the only one. And it's not just progressive Democrats who are running on health care, either. Democrats are going strong and hard at the GOP's attacks on health reform by pointing out the benefits of health reform and challenging Republicans to tell voters to their faces that they would repeal protections that are law now. The most popular of them? The ban on discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.
In an ad that focuses on holding corporations accountable, Rep. Steve Israel of New York touts the bill for stopping insurance companies from denying coverage because of preexisting conditions. In Nevada, Rep. Dina Titus has a TV ad praising the same provision.It's not just Democratic incumbents, either. EJ Dionne documents at least one instance of a Democratic challenger of a Republican member of Congress using his vote against health care and making it a campaign issue.
And in his effort to win back a traditionally Democratic congressional seat in New Orleans, state Rep. Cedric Richmond has made incumbent Republican Joseph Cao's vote against the health-care bill a central issue in the campaign.Democrats had already been running on health reform, and on a national level, challenged the GOP to try to repeal what President Obama called the Patients' Bill of Rights on steroids. But what seems to have emboldened them more is one date: September 23. That's when a great deal of the Patients' Bill of Rights went into effect, including:
- A ban on rescission, the dreaded practice of insurance companies dropping you when you get sick. They can no longer do so as long as you didn't commit fraud and you pay your premiums.
- Children can no longer be denied health insurance on grounds of pre-existing conditions.
- Young adults can stay on their parents' policy until they are 26 (inclusive).
- Lifetime benefit caps are now illegal, and yearly limits are being phased out.
Bush's brain thinks that the Republicans can win by running on the caricature of the bill. But EJ Dionne points out what Rove conveniently forget. There's an actual law, and there are actual benefits coming from the law. And people like most of those individual provisions in the law.
Not so fast, Karl. In fact, there are two "health-care bills" competing in this election. One is the parody Republicans have lovingly created that casts the health-care law as a big-government monstrosity with no redeeming features. The other is the law itself, an admittedly sprawling legislative compromise that nonetheless moves things in the right direction -- and most of whose individual elements voters support.As the benefits of the new law has been coming into effect, popular support for the law seems to once again be on the rise. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds that in September, support for the law overall outstrips opposition 49% to 40%, and only 26% want a wholesale repeal of the law, which is what the Republicans are promising. Support from all political groups have risen, including a 5-point bounce in that month among Republican voters. Not only that, Americans who believe their personal health care will be better off under the new law outstrip those who believe their personal care will be worse off, and more Americans believe country as a whole will be better off under the new law than those who believe it will be worse off (although in each of those cases, a plurality believe that it won't make any difference, meaning that people understand that they can keep their health insurance if they are happy with it). Another crucial information from that poll is more swing voters trust Democrats on health care than do Republicans.
Just as an aside, a Newsweek poll not only confirms the public's trust in Democrats over Republicans on health care, but on every other issue (including taxation, spending and the economy) as well, as my friends at the Winning Progressive report.
As we get close to the election, Democratic candidates understand that we ought not let the GOP define the narrative on the major reforms we have achieved. The people trust us, not the GOP to make further reforms. That is why more and more Democrats are running on the signature achievement of this Democratic Congress and this Democratic Administration - health care reform. Let's help these good folks get elected so we can keep moving our country forward!