Health Law's 4th Birthday Divides Democrats, Unites GOP On Message

Mar 21, 2014
Originally published on March 21, 2014 7:49 pm

With the fourth anniversary of President Obama's signing of the Affordable Care Act this weekend, if you were a Democrat boasting about the health law, you were more than likely a party official or lawmaker with a seat so safe you could publicly celebrate the occasion.

Like Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat who in 2012 beat her Republican opponent by nearly 30 points, scheduling an enrollment event at a Chicago community college Saturday and inviting the news media.

It's the kind of event not recommended for the political health of Democrats representing districts that contain many more Republicans than hers, however.

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers, and even GOP candidates not in Congress but hoping to get there, are observing the anniversary with events that underscore the long-running Republican message: The health law is causing more harm than good.

Frank Guinta, a former representative running for a House seat in New Hampshire, held a roundtable Friday, part of a series, to hear from health care providers about problems they allege the law created. His campaign Facebook page said the meeting was meant to highlight the health law's fourth anniversary over the weekend.

During this midterm election there were two distinct messaging approaches on the Democratic side: a full-throated embrace of the law from some and a more low key, barely audible and even missing message from at-risk lawmakers.

Speaking to a community health care conference in Washington, Vice President Biden spoke of the health care law as on par with Social Security and Medicare as monumental social legislation.

"And ladies and gentlemen, this is one of those experiences, and it sounds corny, that you're going to be talking about with your grandkids and great-grandkids, that you were part of putting in place," Biden said. "That's something that 20 years from now everyone's going to wonder: 'What's the big deal? What's the big deal?

" 'Doesn't everybody — didn't every country do this?' " Biden said.

Republican officials, however, at a Friday teleconference, were definitely making a big deal of the anniversary.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus couldn't stifle laughter when he said: "I think it's safe to say that Democrats are going to want to ignore this anniversary. I would be curious to know how many Democrats are out there Sunday celebrating the anniversary in their districts because they don't want to run on Obamacare in the fall?"

For what it's worth, even Democratic leaders who have repeatedly touted the health law in their public statements — like Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the House minority leader, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman — as of Friday didn't much take note of the fourth anniversary on their official websites.

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