When Obamacare finally passed the House, 34 Democrats voted no. Thirty-one of those Democrats are now running for reelection, and, not surprisingly, many of them are highlighting their opposition to the bill.
Some, such as Jason Altmire in Pennsylvania, Bobby Bright in Alabama, Glenn Nye in Virginia, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in South Dakota, Frank Kratovil in Maryland, and Glenn Nye in Virginia are actually running television ads touting their “no” votes. The bill “cost too much,” says a Nye spot. It was a “massive government takeover of health care,” according to Bright. It “wasn’t right for South Dakota,” argues Herseth Sandlin.
All of which is true. Still, one might ask: Are these Democrats really serious about opposing Obamacare, or are they just seeking political cover?
There are currently two discharge petitions in the House that would force a floor vote on repealing Obamacare. The first, sponsored by Rep. Stephen King (R., Iowa) is the most straightforward, simply repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in its entirety. A second, from Rep. Wally Herger (R., Calif.) would both repeal Obamacare and replace it with a collection of alternative proposals. All but six Republicans have signed one or the other of the petitions.
Not a single one of those 31 Democrats has signed either of those petitions.
Nothing that has come out since the bill passed back in March has made it look better. If Glenn Nye voted against it because he thought it cost too much back when it was scored as costing $950 billion, what does he think now that independent estimates suggest it may cost as much as $2.7 trillion over its first ten years of full implementation? Obamacare certainly isn’t less of a government takeover now that we know fewer and fewer Americans will be able to keep their current insurance plans. And the bill didn’t get any better for South Dakota now that we can see insurance premiums shooting through the roof.
Of course, signing a discharge petition is considered something akin to treason by the party leadership. Nancy Pelosi would be displeased. But these are candidates who are claiming to be “independent” and “standing up to Washington.” Shouldn’t they be asked to put their signatures where their mouths are?
Republicans are not completely off the hook, either. Among the six Republicans who have not signed either discharge petition are senatorial candidates Mark Kirk in Illinois and Mike Castle in Delaware. This is particularly surprising in the case of Kirk, who once vowed to “lead the effort” to repeal the health-care law.
Meanwhile, over in the Senate, a bill by Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) to repeal Obamacare has attracted only 21 cosponsors, meaning that 19 Republican senators have not yet committed to repeal. Among the scofflaws are Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and Republican conference chairman Lamar Alexander.