House Republicans Tar Moderate Democrats With Liberal Healthcare Votes

Votes in favor of healthcare might hurt more moderate Democrats.

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By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Showing new signs of life after the embarrassing debacle in New York's 23rd Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions and the National Republican Congressional Committee are already pounding some senior Democrats whose vote in favor of Nancy Pelosi's healthcare package may make then vulnerable at the next election.

In new ads designed to run in North Dakota, Arkansas and South Carolina, the committee is raising the issue of the votes Democrats Earl Pomeroy, Vic Snyder and John Spratt cast in favor of Pelosicare by using the words of fellow Democrats who voted against it:

"The worst things we could do during a recession is raise taxes - and this bill does just that." —Rep. Dan Boren, Democrat of Oklahoma

"... this big of a price tag in today's economic climate... " —Rep. Travis Childers, Democrat of Mississippi

"... there is too much new spending in this bill..." —Rep. Chet Edwards, Democrat of Texas

"... this bill will not reduce long-term costs." —Rep Bobby Bright, Democrat of Alabama

"Democrats are getting a taste of what next fall is going to feel like when they are going down to defeat thanks in part to the statements made by their liberal colleagues," NRCC spokesman Ken Spain said.

As a strategy, this is not so much about pitting Democrats in Congress against their colleagues as it is to drive a wedge between moderate Democrats and independent voters in key districts. The NRCC is, in effect, trying to make the moderates "own" the liberal agenda being pushed by Pelosi and the House leadership. It's worked before, as political scientists Merle and Earl Black document in their book The Rise of Southern Republicans. By linking moderate Democrats in suburban districts to the Democrats national—and liberal—agenda the NRCC hopes to nationalize the election—which is how the GOP built its last Congressional majority.

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