posted at 4:01 pm on January 4, 2017 by John Sexton
They can’t stop repeal and they know it, but Democrats hope to profit from the GOP’s upending of Obamacare anyway. President Obama held a 90-minute meeting on Capitol Hill Wednesday during which he encouraged Democrats to blame everything on the GOP. From the Hill:
“I think the president made a strong point that the individual provisions of the Affordable Care Act are popular and that we know we’re right on policy and we have to be able to get this message out to the American people,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said following the meeting.
Democrats coalesced around the sharper political message Wednesday that if Republicans repeal the law, they’ll be responsible for any negative consequences that might follow.
Over at Politico, authors Jennifer Haberkorn and Rachana Pradhan have a more in-depth story on what Democrats are planning to do. They know this is a battle they can’t win because they simply don’t have the votes to stop Republicans, assuming they stick together. But they can do their best to make repeal painful for the GOP and hope that works out well for them in future elections:
The goal is to make a very big noise that might, possibly, sway a handful of GOP votes in the Senate — and if not, to delay the process for as long as possible and inflict as much political pain on the GOP as they can…
Democrats also plan to take advantage of a special procedure called reconciliation which Republicans are using to repeal the law, which means the Senate will have to vote on an unlimited number of amendments. Democrats intend to use that process to delay repeal and force Republicans to take tough votes.
“They’re going to try to rush this through so fast that the American publican can’t see what they did,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “It’s in our interest to make this process go long enough so that people can see what a debacle this is.”
Meanwhile, progressive groups allied with Democrats are threatening Republican Senators who are up for reelection in 2018 with “seven-figure” ad campaigns. Of course similar campaigns didn’t work out too well for Democrats in 2016. Also, the map in 2018 is much more favorable to Republicans than Democrats. That’s an advantage Democrats are seeking to blunt with this approach to Obamacare repeal.
The biggest problem Democrats have is that there is only so much oxygen in the room. They can certainly delay Obamacare repeal and attack cabinet appointments and threaten to filibuster Trump’s SCOTUS pick, but at some point all of the negatives will blur together and interfere with one another. And when Democrats lose most or all of these fights (which they will) and the world does not immediately end, their credibility is going to take a hit as well.