By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
While some Democrats like President Obama's renewed populist attack on rate-hiking health insurance providers, Republican leaders don't think it will drive the public to support his health reform package. The reason: Many Americans believe that the president's plan will cause premiums to rise.
In Pennsylvania this week, the president lashed out at the insurers, asking his audience how high premiums have to go before Washington weighs in. But polls show that while upset with insurance cost increases, the public doesn't see the president's plan as the solution. Republicans are pressing that case. "Our message hasn't changed. Premium hikes, higher taxes, and Medicare cuts are the heart of this bill. We should be focusing on costs," says a top GOP aide.
Another leadership official suggests that the GOP is relishing the idea of a Democratic victory on healthcare, though few actually want to see the president win. "Democrats push this at their own peril. They'll be telling 73 percent of the American people who either want us to stop altogether or stop and start over that they don't give a damn what the public wants. If they jam this through on a partisan vote with reconciliation in the mix, a campaign will be launched to define every Democrat on this vote. We'll make repealing the bill the battle cry, and many, many Democrats will lose their seats in the fall. It will be a colossal disaster for them. Their base doesn't love this bill. The conservatives/tea-party folks hate it. And the independents strongly dislike it. Any Democratic consultant telling them passing it is better than not passing it should be fired," says the leadership aide.