Prescient me, last week:
This strikes me as a political tactic bound to fail. For one thing, healthcare reform will have already started, and people will like it.
The obvious question to such GOP candidates will be this: "What part do you want to repeal first? The part where insurance companies can no longer drop your coverage when you get sick? The part where insurance companies can deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition? Do you want to repeal the Medicare 'donut-hole'?"
These are among the many changes in health care that Americans — even, I suggest, the staunchiest teabaggers — will like. Right now, a lot of Americans are still fearful of "death panels" and "killing grandma". But Republicans can't run on repealing those things — because they don't exist (and never did)! So what exactly will they be repealing?
Today, via ABC News:
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. They say more Americans will learn of the new law's benefits over time and anger over its messy legislative pedigree will fade. For months, Democrats have eagerly catalogued Republican congressional candidates who pledge to repeal the health care law, vowing to make them pay in November.
In Illinois, where there's a spirited battle to fill the Senate seat Obama once held, Democrats seem to have hit a nerve by attacking Republican nominee Mark Kirk's pledge to try to repeal the health law. Two weeks ago, Kirk said he would "lead the effort" to repeal the measure.
On Tuesday, when asked repeatedly by reporters whether he still wants it repealed, Kirk would say only that he opposes the new taxes and Medicare cuts associated with the law.
Republican strategist Kevin Madden said the repeal message is "a call to action" that excites many conservative voters, who will be important in November. But the risk of talking only about repeal, he said, "is you only define your position by what you're against."