Nearly a year ago, former-President Bill Clinton visited Capitol Hill and advised congressional Democrats that the best way to secure their political futures was to pass Obamacare. Speaking to reporters afterward, Clinton said, "I think it is good politics to pass this and to pass it as soon as they can.... The worst thing to do is nothing."
At the time, some of us argued that this advice was both foolish and counterfactual. Andy Wickersham and I took a long look at the results of the 1994 election, in which the Democrats had, of course, been clobbered in the wake of trying to pass a health care overhaul that Americans didn't want. After analyzing the data, we wrote, "The conclusions are clear, and they defy the notion that the worst thing that Democrats could do is nothing." We concluded, "Democrats did indeed get slaughtered in 1994...but it wasn't because they failed to pass Hillary-care. It was because they tried." Moreover, observing that Obamacare wouldn't really go into effect until 2014 and was therefore very vulnerable to repeal, we asked congressional Democrats, "Are you willing to die charging a hill that may well be retaken in 2010 and 2012 in your absence?"
Well, it's good to see that the Democrats have finally, belatedly, come around to our thesis: that those who voted against Obamacare will be on far safer ground in November than those who voted for it. Politico now reports that at least five congressional Democrats who voted against what one of them calls "massive government health care" are running ads touting that fact. Meanwhile, Politico writes, "[I]t appears that no Democratic incumbent – in the House or in the Senate – has run a pro-reform TV ad since April, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) ran one."
If you think about it, this is really quite incredible: 279 Democrats, House and Senate included, voted for Obamacare, and not one of them has been willing to publicize that fact in a single TV spot over the past four months in the midst of a congressional campaign? Apparently, the only Democrat who's running pro-Obamacare TV ads is President Obama, and he's funding them with your money.
The question now is whether the 34 House Democrats who voted against Obamacare are willing to pledge publicly that they support repeal – and whether their GOP opponents will make them answer that question.