A year ago Friday, Democrats sarcastically serenaded Republicans with chants of “Nah nah nah nah, hey hey, goodbye” as the GOP shoved legislation through the House scuttling the Obamacare health care law.
Now, Democrats battling to capture House and Senate control in November’s elections are trying to weaponize that roll call, in which 217 Republicans voted yes. In Michigan, Arkansas and elsewhere, Democrats are hammering Republicans for voting to replace the increasingly popular statute with a bill Congress’ own budget experts said would have boosted premiums and the ranks of the uninsured.
“Voters are very upset with the actions Republicans took” trying to repeal Obama’s law, said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who heads Senate Democrats’ campaign committee. “This is an issue that we’re seeing at the top of voters’ minds, and this is across all states.”
To sharpen the effect, many ads couple the health care vote with last December’s passage of a GOP tax cut, which disproportionately helped businesses and wealthy Americans. A spot by a liberal group hits Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Mich., for supporting both, saying, “Representing Michigan should mean representing the middle class.”
Republican strategists offer mixed views on the issue’s impact. Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent, among only 20 Republicans who voted against the House repeal bill, said GOP candidates will be vulnerable because of the bill’s impact and because President Donald Trump privately labeled the GOP measure “mean” a month after it passed.
“That ad more or less writes itself,” Dent said of the inevitable Democratic campaign spots.
Georgia Democratic hopeful Bobby Kaple, seeking the nomination for an Atlanta-area district, says “Thank God for Obamacare” in his spot showing his two young children, born premature but healthy after expensive medical bills.
In Arkansas, cancer survivor Clarke Tucker says he’ll “stand up to anyone who tries to take your health insurance” as he competes for the Democratic nomination for a seat surrounding Little Rock.
“Health care is on their mind every day, and I understand that,” Tucker said of area voters in an interview.
Democrats are also using the issue in their battle for the Senate, where Republican proposals to scrap Obama’s law flopped last summer, dooming the effort.