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Posted at 3:17 PM ET, 11/24/2010

Three ways Democrats are going back on the offense over health-care reform

By Ezra Klein

In the past two days, there have been three stories suggesting ways Democrats might go back on the offensive in health-care reform.

The first was the McClatchy poll showing that the majority of voters want the bill left alone or expanded. That lends itself as much to a defensive strategy, in which Democrats fight repeal, as to an offensive strategy, where Democrats force Republicans to take difficult votes on the sort of populist, anti-insurer policies that were sacrificed to get Ben Nelson aboard the bill. Given that no legislation forcing insurers to spend 90 cents of every premium dollar on actual medical care is going to pass, you might see Democrats dare Republicans to vote against it -- and many other items like it.

Speaking of difficult votes, Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) has announced his intention to introduce six different bills repealing various consumer protections in the law. The package is called the Health Insurance Protects America -- Can't Repeal IT Act, which gets shortened to, yes, "HIPA-CRIT." Are Republicans really comfortable voting against the prohibition on discriminating against preexisting conditions, or the coverage for dependents up to age 26? As John Boehner has promised to allow open amendments in the House, and Democrats still control the Senate, you may see a lot of these targeted repeal bills emerging in the coming months, as Democrats realize that their Republican colleagues are split between a base that wants repeal no matter the cost and a public that doesn't.

That split is behind this survey from Public Policy Polling showing that Republican voters wants their congressmen to decline the health-care insurance they're offered as federal employees (Democrats, interestingly, disagree). This all started last week, when Rep. Andy Harris, an incoming Republican who supports health-care repeal, pronounced himself astonished that his federal benefits wouldn't kick in for a full month. Democrats quickly pounced on the gap between Harris's deep concern for his family's benefits and his disregard for the country's 50 million uninsured. Now it turns out that the GOP's voters agree with the Democrats on this one, and Republicans who ran as outsiders are going to find themselves in the unwelcome position of deciding whether to keep the mantle of the insurgent or seem like they're hypocritically accepting government benefits the moment they get to Washington.

None of these three are game-changers, of course. But Republicans are about to go from sniping on the sidelines while Democrats make the unpopular compromises necessary to get things done to getting sniped at from the sidelines while they make the unpopular compromises necessary to get things done -- or, given that the GOP doesn't control the presidency or the Senate, necessary to show they're base that they're trying. They're not going to enjoy it.

By Ezra Klein  | November 24, 2010; 3:17 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Comments

I'm not sure why progressive-liberals have such a hard time understanding such a simple concept.

As an employee of the federal government, of course incoming congressman and congresswomen should be added to government-provided benefits. It's because they are FREAKIN EMPLOYEES!!! The other 50 million uninsured (an intentionally over-inflated number, by the way) are NOT employees of the federal government, so why would/should the federal government pay for their health care?

It's so simple, yet progressives just can't seem to get their head around the fact it's not hypocrisy to oppose the federal mandates of wealth re-distribution that is Obamacare and at the same time accept the benefits provided by your new employer.

Posted by: dbw1 | November 24, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

@dbw1: If members of Congress are truly "employees" like you and I are, then do they have to call in sick at work? Do they get an annual review? Are they susceptible to layoffs?

They enjoy a special status that is different than the average federal employee. I don't know many employees that can give themselves raises — do you?

And to get back to the original topic, you asked why the federal government should pay for the health care of non-government employees. Nothing in the recently-passed health care law does that. It simply requires that Americans purchase insurance.

However, if you are so dead-set against government-paid health care for anyone that's not an employee, let's find an elderly person and tell them we're revoking their Medicare, shall we? Let's find a vet who's serviced this country and yank his Tricare and VA benefits.

I guess you're right — it really is such a simple concept.

Posted by: bmartinez2 | November 24, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, You've turned into the king of polling all of a sudden. Health care has never been all that big of an issue to the overall general public as you (and the Congress) have made it out to be. Remember exit polling from the 2008 election showed that only 8% thought HCR was a big issue.

It's not going to be repealed, either in whole or in part, but in about 10 years when the bills come due, we will wish big sections of it had been.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 24, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

" If members of Congress are truly "employees" like you and I are, then do they have to call in sick at work? Do they get an annual review? Are they susceptible to layoffs?"

You mean these things called 'elections'?

Posted by: krazen1211 | November 24, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse

"However, if you are so dead-set against government-paid health care for anyone that's not an employee, let's find an elderly person and tell them we're revoking their Medicare, shall we? Let's find a vet who's serviced this country and yank his Tricare and VA benefits."


No, that's why I suggest finding a person on Medicaid and telling them we're revoking their Medicaid.

Liberals don't actually care about the poor in reality, just the abstract.

Posted by: krazen1211 | November 24, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

What is @dwb1 talking about? The poll shows that liberals/progressives (Democrats) think Republican Congressmen should take their health benefits as part of their job. It's the Republicans in the poll who think Representatives shouldn't get health care for doing their job. Stop blaming us for what your fellow travelers think.

For that matter, we haven't forgotten that true conservatives don't want private employers offering health care as a benefit anyway. Sorry you didn't notice, maybe next you should read your Presidential candidate's proposals.

Posted by: Hopeful9 | November 24, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

I have posted this already here before You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price check http://ow.ly/3akSX .If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy about it and believe me you are not going to loose anything!

Posted by: reikojones | November 25, 2010 6:29 AM | Report abuse

After 35 years of FEBP (federal Health Care), I kept it into retirement. I now have Medicare as Primary and BCBS as secondary. I truly wish all Americans could have the same health care I have. I have heard so much from the older teabaggers say 'Don't take my health care' and say they do not want to share with the rest of Americans a real Health care. I say, we all pay for HC for all in one way or another. If one has no insurance they go for Emergency care and cost all of us 10, or more, times what it would cost with insurance. We are allowing the insurance poor to dictate our insurance cost. Spread the cost through out the land and we will all be healthy and that is what is needed. I do not want to be around people who are not healthy neither should you. Democrats: Please increase the 'Healthy American Act' make me proud to be a liberal . Don't give the wrong side the right to dictate to us. We are the correct way, SO DO IT .

Posted by: theemailman | November 25, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

"As an employee of the federal government, of course incoming congressman and congresswomen should be added to government-provided benefits. It's because they are FREAKIN EMPLOYEES!!"

Err, actually no. I'm sorry that you faill to see (Or choose to ignore) the difference between constitutional officers and federal employees. Federal employees don't get to set the salary and benefits for their own position, which Congress gets to do(in fact, they do for every federal employee and constitutional officer. Why, it seems that the federal government works for them!).

What's more, federal employees are bound by the Hatch Act limiting their political activities, they are require to undergo a background investigation before being allowed access classified materials and but for a few exceptions (FBI agents, military officers, etc), have civil service protection against losing their job. Obviously, in all those cases, Congressmen and Senators are unlike actual federal employees.

Oh yes, as constitutional officers, Members of Congress still get paid during a government shutdown, most federal employees do not.

Posted by: beowulf_ | November 26, 2010 12:54 AM | Report abuse

If only the media would report on this instead of constantly repeating the conventional wisdom that this is a center-right country. They base this on the fact that more people call themselves conservative. Yet polls repeatedly show that a majority public agrees with most Democratic positions on issues - including abortion. Journalists are repeatedly surprised by these kinds of polls then return to repeating the same silly meme.

To keep ignoring this important fact is journalistic malpractice and helps to unfairly empower conservatives. People are given the impression that being on the left means being a socialist when, in fact, very few Democrats actually advocate for true socialist programs. For example in a truly socialized health care system doctors work for the government as they do in Britain and the government pays all the bills. When was the last time any Democratic politician advocated for that? Advocating for allowing people to opt into a government run payment system like the public option is portrayed as an extreme left wing position, even though a lot of Americans like the idea of having the option to buy into Medicare.

This is the kind of distortion of reality that Republicans love - and manufacture with the help of propaganda spinmeisters like Frank Luntz. That so many in the media so willing goes along with it is a dereliction of their duty to ensure that our democracy has an informed citizenry.

Posted by: BernieO | November 26, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

you can be sure the Democrats will do what is wrong, just because. the Republicans are just evil, that's nothing new. But Democrats have some special gift for Effing themselves over, some kind of inherent gift.

never underestimate the Democrats stupidity and cravenness. The Republican are by nature evil. the Democrats find a way to make Republicans look blameless.

Now what is the Republican "problem" here. something about health care where they shot themselves in the foot. the Democrats will find a way to not only take responsibility for the Republicans stupidity, but also find a way to make Democrats appear even more stupid and evil than Republican behavior could ever hope for.

Ask not what you can do for your country. lol

fitting words for Crooks

Posted by: Beleck31 | November 26, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

First, show me the ads the Democrats ran for re-election bragging about HCR. (Don't sweat it; there were none.)

Then, show me the ads the Republicans ran bragging about their (unsuccessful) attempts to defeat it. (It's easy, they were blasting at full volume in every district.)

Now, count the votes.

Rinse, repeat.

You cannot win elections by counting coup and embarrassing the Republicans; they have no shame and they have their own TV spin network.

Posted by: pmcgann | November 26, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

It's so simple, yet progressives just can't seem to get their head around the fact.....
Posted by: dbw1 | November 24, 2010 4:09 PM |
-------
It' so simple to read the article and get your head around the fact that it is the REPUBLICANS that are calling for them to give up the HC benefits.

"That split is behind this survey from Public Policy Polling showing that Republican voters wants their congressmen to decline the health-care insurance they're offered as federal employees (Democrats, interestingly, disagree)."

Posted by: JRM2 | November 26, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

The only "choice" and "freedom" that you are having taken away is the right to not have to pay in some way for your own health care.

Posted by: JRM2 | November 26, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Below: All Government Run Health Care.
______________________

Medi-Care: Government Run Health Care

If You Hate Government Run Health Care ? Why Don't you have Your Grand Ma & Grand Pa Get Off [Medi-Care]

Medi-Caid: Government Financed-State Financed Health Care.

Countless number of Americans Per State is n [Medi-Caid] Federal & State Government Ran Health Care.

SCHIP: A Bi-Partisan [Republican-Democrat Bill] To Insure America's Poor Children [Health Care]

VA Hospital: Government Run Health Care.

DOD Defense: Government Run Health Care.

Senate & Congress: All Have Government Run Health Care.

Federal Employees: All Have Government Run Health Care...

Question: Is The U.S. Federal Government a Communist-Socialist Nation ?

Answer: No-They Clearly Are Not.
____________________

You Republican Tea Party- Nit-Wits Should All Move to Eastern Europe & Truly See & Live a True Socialist System, Because Clearly You hav'nt the Slightest Idea, as to what is a Communist-Socialist Nation.


Posted by: omaarsblade | November 27, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

Ron Paul:"President Obama is Not a Socialist-He's a Corporatist"


Ron Paul States:"The question has been raised about whether or not our president is a socialist,"

Paul said. "I am sure there are some people here who believe it. But in the technical sense, in the economic definition of a what a socialist is, no, he's not a socialist."

"He's a corporatist," Paul continued. "And unfortunately we have corporatists inside the Republican party and that means you take care of corporations and corporations take over and run the country."


Paul said examples of President Obama's "Corporatism" were evident in the heath care reform bill he signed into law last month. He said the mandate in the bill put the power over health care in the hands of corporations rather than private citizens. But he said the bill wasn't the only place where corporatism is creeping into Washington.

Posted by: omaarsblade | November 27, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

While Ackerman's tactic is cute - he should be careful of what he wishes for - the way things are going the nutjobs on the right just might take the bait... along with a few bitter Blue Dogs in his own caucus.

Don't make overtures to undo good law and solid public policies. Why not just stand strong for the law as it is and do something bold like trying to EXPAND IT rather than wasting time on a battle that has been fought an won?

Posted by: pk2031 | November 27, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Anyone who thinks the feds won't be paying for healthcare for a huge new segment of the population just can't see the forest for the trees. The feds will subsidize the health insurance for people making up to $80,000 a year. Of course, the only money the feds actually have is that which they take from taxpayers or borrow from the Chinese....actually, both. When you realize that 32 million people are going to be added to insurance roles and that most of them will not be added by virtue of their employment or their own money, you will have it figured out. After your wallet has been hoovered for the benefit of others.

Posted by: buggerianpaisley1 | November 29, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

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