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Pelosi Drops Schumer’s Health Care Slogan ‘Make America Sick Again’

Democratic Rep.: That s**t doesn't work

Chuck Schumer, left, and Nancy Pelosi / Getty Images
• March 13, 2017 2:21 pm

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House Democrats have dropped Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D., N.Y.) slogan "Make America Sick Again" as they fight Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare by trying to make the law a defining issue of the 2018 midterm elections.

Schumer first created and previewed the "Make America Sick Again" phrase in early January to counter Republicans vying to replace the Affordable Care Act. The slogan was a spoof of President Donald Trump's famous campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again."

While the slogan quickly petered out, Schumer's Democratic colleagues in the House, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), continued to use the slogan until early last week. But a spokesman for Pelosi confirmed to Politico on Sunday that House Democrats have now chosen to stop using the phrase.

"That shit doesn't work," Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke (Texas) said bluntly. "If I were only listening to Nancy Pelosi, all I would be telling you is the Republicans only want to make America sick again. I mean that's great in San Francisco."

But "it's not what I think, it's not how I speak, and it’s not what I'm hearing from my constituents," added O'Rourke, who Politico noted may challenge Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) next year.

"Make America Sick Again" is not the only Schumer phrase that Pelosi and other House Democrats have rejected regarding health care policy. The Senate's top Democrat has been pushing the term "Trumpcare" to describe the House Republican plan announced last week to replace Obamacare, which Trump supports.

The White House reportedly dislikes the term Trumpcare, which is meant to pejoratively attach the president's name to the bill similar to how Republicans used the term "Obamacare."

House Democrats, however, "have made a conscious decision to avoid the term, reasoning that Trump's supporters may rally around it," Politico reported, citing a Democratic official.

The fight over messaging has been key as Democrats look to save Obamacare and kill Republican efforts to repeal it.

Schumer told Politico that the politics of health care for Democrats have now changed.

"It was easy [for Republicans] to be critical of Obamacare when you thought it would stay in place. Now that the chance of repeal is real, people are much more worried," Schumer said. "We are on offense and united; they are on defense and divided–the opposite of what people would have predicted a month or two ago."

The fight over Obamacare could have major implications for the 2018 midterm elections, when Democrats will be defending 25 Senate seats compared to just nine for Republicans, who currently control the chamber with 52 seats.

Democratic Party officials say in private that they could see big gains in 2018 because of backlash against Republicans for trying to repeal Obamacare.

However, a recent poll found that nearly six out of 10 voters do not agree with the statement: "If Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act, it will make America sick again."

House Republicans introduced last week the American Health Care Act, their plan to repeal Obamacare. Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) support the bill, while some conservative lawmakers and groups have said the plan needs major changes before they can endorse it.