Dems to GOP: Don’t like government health care? Then drop yours

By Sahil Kapur
Wednesday, November 24, 2010 9:27 EDT
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Congressional Democratic and liberal groups are issuing a simple ultimatum to their Republican colleagues: If you dislike government-run health insurance so much, prove it and decline the coverage provided to you.

“Put up or sit down,” said Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) to Republicans, who promise to repeal the sweeping health care law enacted in March. The congressman has introduced a bill to repeal the measure’s most popular components, such as the ban on denying coverage for pre-existing illnesses.

“This will be the big chance for Republicans to do what they’ve vowed to do,” Ackerman said, according to Mike Lillis of The Hill. “These bills will be their chance to at long last restore liberty and repeal the evil monster they’ve dubbed ‘Obamacare.’ ”

Another New York Democrat, Joseph Crowley, on Tuesday sent a letter to Republican leaders challenging them to “walk the walk” if they intend to “deny millions of Americans affordable health care.”

“You cannot enroll in the very kind of coverage that you want for yourselves, and then turn around and deny it to Americans who don’t happen to be Members of Congress,” the letter read.

Soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) refused to take up the offer, arguing that he’s entitled to embrace government-run insurance while denying the effort by Democrats to expand coverage to ordinary Americans.

“Boehner, like Speaker Pelosi, Sen. Reid and tens of millions of Americans, receives health coverage through his employer,” Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel said. “That has nothing to do with ObamaCare, which will wreck Americans’ health care and bankrupt our country.”

The Democratic-aligned union American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees and liberal group Americans United For Change have backed these efforts, Lillis reported.

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds that 53 percent of the public agrees that members of Congress against the Affordable Care Act should decline government insurance.

The effort by Democrats and advocacy groups hint that liberals are willing to challenge Republican plans to scrap the Affordable Care Act in the next Congress. With this ultimatum, Democrats may have found a winning messaging strategy on health care, something they’ve lacked since the beginning of the debate last year.

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