October, 30th 2007

Column on the GOP and health care

– Liz Mair

Today, I've got a column running in The Politico on the subject of the GOP and our poor record and weak rhetoric on health care. Extract:

72 percent of those surveyed, and even 61 percent of Republicans, say they favor expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, putting them at odds with the (still) leader of the Republican Party, President Bush, who vetoed the original SCHIP expansion legislation and has threatened to veto a revised SCHIP bill passed by the House last week.

The SCHIP numbers are particularly telling, because they signal at worst a complete failure of the majority Republican position on health care to resonate with voters, and at best a complete failure of messaging on the issue, combined with obliviousness to that failure.

In the run-up to the SCHIP veto, the main arguments advanced by the White House focused on the expansion of the program being bad because it represented a move toward government-run, or “socialized,” medicine with no further explanation.

Unsurprisingly, then, since a large swath of voters actually now like the idea of government-run health care, especially when the alternative looks like letting kids suffer, the White House message fell flat leaving Democrats to reap the spoils of this particular health care battle.

Democrats, of course, also benefited from 45 Republicans in the House (44 on the original veto override vote) and 18 in the Senate siding with them on the original SCHIP expansion plan, and 44 also siding with them where the revised House SCHIP bill was concerned.

That suggests Democrats are the only party with solutions where health care is concerned.


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