Friday, September 10, 2010

Embattled Democrats tout their opposition to Obama's agenda

'They're betting that between now and November, you're going to come down with amnesia," President Obama told a Milwaukee crowd on Monday, vilifying the Republicans who "helped devastate our middle class." But it seems as if the real case of amnesia—or maybe post-traumatic stress disorder—has struck the Democrats, who are now doing everything they can to help voters forget ObamaCare.

This is a remarkable turn of events for Mr. Obama's major domestic achievement that was also supposed to be a political winner. Facing a grim November, Democrats are now running on another quarter-baked stimulus plan and the specter of John Boehner's perpetual tan, instead of the bill they spent more than a year debating and hailed as the liberal triumph of the century. Democrats now barely mention ObamaCare on the trail—unless they're trashing it.

In Milwaukee, the President made a few desultory mentions of "health care that will be there when you get sick." And in Cleveland Wednesday, his list of the iniquities from which he saved the country included "health insurance reform that stops insurance companies from jacking up your premiums at will."

But what about all the grandiose ambitions of universal coverage? What about bending the cost curve? The parade of horribles that would occur if Congress failed to act? "Our deficit will grow. More families will go bankrupt. More businesses will close. More Americans will lose their coverage when they are sick and need it most. And more will die as a result," as Mr. Obama put it in a speech to Congress a year ago.

The only politicians who today are finding any redeeming electoral value in ObamaCare are Republicans running on reform alternatives and the Democrats who voted against it. In South Dakota, four-term Democrat Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is running ads that tout her vote against "the trillion-dollar health-care plan." Mrs. Herseth Sandlin won in 2008 with 68% of the vote but now is in a dead heat against GOP challenger Kristi Noem.

Idaho freshman Walt Minnick says in one TV spot that "I've had to say no far more than I've said yes. I've said no to more government spending, no to President Obama's big health-care plan," because "standing up to what's wrong in Washington is right for Idaho." Pennsylvania's Jason Altmire, class of 2006, features constituents who say things like, "You saw when he voted against health care" and, "He's not afraid to stand up to the President."

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