Democratic Strategist: GOP Overplaying Hand on Obamacare

Public wants law changed, not repealed, strategist says.

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Majority Republicans in the House of Representatives "have badly overplayed their hand" by attempting time after time to repeal or dismantle President Obama's health care law, says prominent Democratic pollster Geoff Garin.

Garin has conducted focus groups around the country recently to assess voter sentiment on Obamacare, and he found that voters consider the GOP to be obstructionist and overly negative. This perception of Republican intransigence has created "an opportunity for Democrats to play offense rather than defense," Garin says. "The bottom line is that people do not want to repeal [the health care law, which remains in effect]. ... People feel we should be fixing and improving what's there, not repealing it."

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Garin, a veteran political consultant who advises many Democratic congressional candidates, adds: " Some Republicans don't want to do constituent service around it [the health care law]. People feel that's outrageous."

Garin concedes, however, that many Americans still have only a vague idea of what the new law will do.

House Speaker John Boehner takes questions as Congress prepares to leave for a five-week recess, which Republicans may use to criticize the president's health care law in their home districts.

The latest Gallup Poll tends to back up what Garin says about harsh public views of the GOP. "It may be summer," says a Gallup spokesman, "but Americans are not all smiles and sunshine, at least when it comes to their ratings of Washington leaders. Gallup's August polling finds Americans' scant approval of Congress remaining low at 14 percent this month, while their satisfaction with the direction of the country slipped six points to 22 percent, the lowest since March."

But Obama is taking his hits from the public, too. Gallup found that Obama's job approval rating declined from 47 percent to 44 percent between June and August.


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  • Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for and "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at and on Facebook and Twitter.