December 23, 2009


On Friday I aired a fear of mine that the Democrats would turn health care reform into an abortion style issue for the Democrats.

For years political insiders have said how abortion was a necessary evil for the Republicans, and overturning Roe v. Wade would actually cost them in the long run. The conventional thinking is that opposition to Roe is a vote getter for Republicans and once you take that away you end up with less turnout at the polls.

To keep the dream alive Republicans have always taken minor steps to help keep the dream of a Roe v. Wade-less America alive. Things like the partial birth abortion ban and reporting requirements, but they have stopped short of really pushing a full out ban on abortion.

Now it appears that health care is poised to become the same sort of issue for Democrats. While the current health care bill does a lot to expand coverage and reign in some costs, it stops short of something progressives have fought for for years – a federal plan designed to give care, not profits. That leaves Democrats with the core belief in health care reform as a key campaign issue in coming years, while still touting the success of the new legislation

The Politico is reporting on an internal memo that pretty much backs up this belief:

A new polling memo offers encouraging news to Democratic senators as they embark on a high-stakes effort to sell health reform to voters following this week’s historic votes.

In a strategy memo to be provided to Democratic senators on Tuesday, Mark Mellman, CEO of The Mellman Group, reports that public polls are giving a distorted picture of the level of opposition to health-care reform. That’s because in many of these polls, “opponents” include people who think the current proposals do not go far enough.

The thinking here is that Democratic senators will be able to turn the defeat of the public option into votes. The hardest thing to do in a mid-term election is get the voters to show up, and by rolling out the public option in campaign speeches and commercials, they can try and fire up the base and turn that energy into votes.

I am going purely on speculation, but it could have been the thinking of some Democratic leaders to leave the public option out and use that down the road as a tool for re-election. If it seems rather dirty, well it is, but it is a practice not at all uncommon to politics. Given the lack of a real push for the public option, including numerous Senators saying there was no real push, the increased “fix it later” push and President Obama’s highly dishonest statement yesterday that he “never campaigned for the public option”, my speculation is sadly becoming more of a reality.

The big question remains though – will it actually work?

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