The typical -- and apparently compelling -- case against the Democrats promoted by Republicans during the mid-term elections was straightforward: Democrats didn't listen to the American people's concerns about jobs and the economy and instead launched an ideological crusade to reform the health-care system. Which makes it weird that the first thing that Republicans intend to do is vote on a sure-to-fail bill to repeal health-care reform. Isn't that ignoring the American people's concerns about jobs and the economy to go off on an ideological crusade to reform the health care system?
Now, the GOP will no doubt note that they have been calling it a "job-killing health care bill" for some time now, and will argue that the symbolic repeal gesture will help free the economy from its clutches. However, given how little credit the Democrats received for passing a bill that significantly reduces the deficit, I don't think these second-order arguments will have much traction.
That's why I don't necessarily share Jon Chait's appraisal of the Democrats response, which is essentially throwing Republicans' campaign rhetoric back in their faces. Gooses, ganders, etc. That doesn't mean Democrats shouldn't stake out strong positions in favor of all the good things in the health care bill, from closing the Bush administration's Medicare donut hole to preventing insurance companies from denying care thanks to pre-existing conditions, but there's no reason for them to avoid using what's worked.
--- Tim Fernholz
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