A former Obama aide conceded Sunday that some Democrats will have difficulty running on the president’s signature healthcare law in November.
“I’m not going to sit here and say this is the biggest political asset the Democrats have going into the election, especially when the battlefield districts are ones Mitt Romney largely won, but ultimately Democrats are going to do what is right for their district. They’re either going to fight and show what is good about Obamacare or they’re going to show where it has defects,” Bill Burton, the former deputy White House press secretary, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Burton is also the cofounder of the Super PAC Priorities USA.
While the administration is offering an extended enrollment period for people who are still “in line,” the official enrollment deadline is still Monday.
“The law’s working,” said Democratic strategist David Plouffe.
“The politics of this are tough. They will always be tough. I think they’ll get better over time. This law is working. And I think the Republican playbook of just repeal Obamacare, repeal Obamacare, repeal Obamacare gets tougher as more and more people get health care. I think smart Republicans understand that.”
“No actual Democratic senator running for reelection sounds like David Plouffe,” noted Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol.
“They are not saying this law is working. They’re saying, ‘oh, my God, we can fix it.’ Here’s some new proposals. Senator Mark Warner, Mark Begich is out there, unveiled a whole bunch of proposals to, quote, ‘fix Obamacare’ this week.”
Sen. Angus King (I., Maine) was one of six senators who signed an op-ed proposing fixes to the law earlier this week.
“I’ve never seen the piece of legislation yet that was perfect,” King, who is not up for reelection, said on Fox News Sunday. “In fact, the United States Constitution, probably the most perfect piece of legislation ever devised by the mind of men, has been amended 27 times. I think it’s time to try to fix it. And in fact, that’s what the public wants.”
Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.) pushed back on King’s assertions.
“What Angus is offering in his legislation only nibbles around the edges. It doesn’t get to the fundamental flaws of the president’s health care law. The Democrats are unnerved. They have pushed the panic button,” Barrasso said. “It is broken. And people say can you fix it? I’ve looked at this 10 different ways. This health care law is not fixable.”
Strategists said that while Barrasso’s sentiment may be true, calling for repeal alone is not a winning tactic.
“In the real world, the real politics, the Democratic senators know that it’s a big problem for them,” Kristol said.
“If Republicans simply say get rid of it and let Democrats have the ‘keep it and fix it’ position, then—even then it’s sort of 50-50. But then I think Democrats neutralize the issue. If Republicans run on repeal and replace or really let’s say replace and repeal, it has to be done at once. You can’t just throw people out. But we are going to give you tax credits, we’re going to take care of pre-existing conditions as part of the repeal, then the polling shows that becomes very, very popular,” Kristol said.