Political Battle Lines Set Over Obamacare

Republicans, Democrats line up their talking points over the health care law.

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It's the battle of the caricatures: the gang that can't shoot straight versus the fat cats who want to abandon the less fortunate.

These are the emerging fault lines in the PR war over President Obama's health care law, as the Democrats and the Republicans hammer each other day after day over the issue.

A dispute between House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., last weekend made the point. Ellmers, in the weekly Republican Party address to the nation on Saturday, said the Affordable Care Act is part of a "war on women."

Ellmers pointed out that many individuals' health insurance policies have been canceled under Obamacare, and she said this shows that "the Obama administration is essentially saying it knows what's best for you and your family. Not only that, they are making you pay more – usually much more – and in many cases, taking away the doctor you've been seeing for years."

[READ: Midsize Firms Embrace Health Reforms of Their Own Ahead of Obamacare]

Ellmers' remarks about a war on women came a few days after media reports that the Republican party has been giving GOP incumbents advice on how to campaign against women challengers without making offensive or embarrassing comments.

This prompted Pelosi to issue a scathing statement to reporters that: "This pathetic attempt to undermine the Affordable Care Act is a profound insult to the intelligence of women across this country. Women will not be fooled by a political party that's so out of touch that it needs to offer classes on how to communicate with half of the American population.

"Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies cannot charge women more than men for health insurance coverage, and hundreds of thousands of women are now enjoying access to preventive care, like breast and cervical screenings. The question before House Republicans is why they're trying so desperately to take these benefits away from women?"

Overall, Obama admits the rollout of the Affordable Care Act has been a mess. And he has apologized for his misleading statements in the past that Americans who like their insurance can keep it under Obamacare. That turned out to be false for many policy holders.

[BROWSE: Political Cartoons on Obamacare]

But Obama says the goals of the law remain worthwhile – to broaden health insurance coverage to include millions who don't have it, to reduce costs and to expand options for the public. He says the administration will do whatever it takes to make the law work as effectively and efficiently as possible, and says reform, not repeal, is the answer.

Republicans in Congress have opposed the law from the start and say the severe problems with the law so far show that the federal government does poorly when it tries to meddle too much in the economy or take on an issue as complicated as the health care system. Obama and his team just aren't up to the task, GOP leaders say.

To bolster his campaign to raise sagging public approval of Obamacare, the president is bringing Capitol Hill veteran Phil Schiliro back to the White House to coordinate improvements in the program and to rally political support. Schiliro is a former White House liaison to Congress for President Obama and spent many years as a congressional aide.


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  • Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House. He can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com and followed on Facebook and Twitter.