The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

November 16, 2013

A lot at stake

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

Top Democrats, who need to gain 17 seats to retake the House majority, scoff that next November’s elections are far off. They say by then, the health care law will be to their advantage because it will be working well.

Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., who leads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said his party will focus the campaign on the economy, Democratic efforts to fix it and the GOP’s preference for cutting Medicare and granting tax breaks to the wealthy.

The Republican emphasis on the health care law’s problems “from a partisan perspective gins up the Republican base. But it alienates independent and moderate voters,” said Israel, who said those voters “are more interested in solutions.”

Other Democrats agree that plenty can change in a year but concede that the issue poses problems.

Martin Frost, a former Texas Democratic congressman who headed the House Democratic campaign committee, said many people still may lose their coverage because state officials have ample power over insurers. And he said the Obama administration cannot allow additional foul-ups.

“If I were still in Congress, I’d be concerned,” Frost said.

Sensing an edge, the GOP plans to cut commercials featuring Democrats’ promises that people could keep their health insurance. They are already emailing press releases to reporters attacking Democrats on the issue.

“With Obamacare proving to be a total disaster — from the botched website to the broken promises — it’s no surprise that Barber is now desperate to hide his support,” said one GOP release distributed in the district of freshman Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz.

Republicans are aiming similar attacks against Democrats challenging GOP incumbents, urging reporters to ask them their views on the health care law.

America Rising, a GOP political action committee that compiles research on opposition candidates, is collecting video of Democrats’ comments on the law. Some conservative groups are already running television spots, with Americans for Prosperity airing ads attacking Rahall and Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., while defending Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Mich., for opposing the law.

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