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« Obama Hits The Road As Internal Strife Threatens Reform | Blog Home Page | As Obama Visits Missouri, Senate Candidate Heads To DC »

Is GOP Better Served If Health Care Passes Or Fails?

The two committees responsible for electing Republicans to the House and Senate indicated yesterday that GOP candidates will be well served by running on health care reform, which Democrats are still attempting to get to President Obama's desk. Yet an interesting question has arisen -- would Republicans be better off if the legislation passes or fails?

Publicly, the National Republican Congressional Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee say passing the plan would be disastrous for Democrats. However, both are also making efforts to stop it.

In a memo to House candidates, NRCC Executive Director Johnny DeStefano wrote that challengers can affect the outcome of health care in Congress right now by warning their Democratic opponent that their vote will not be forgotten.

"Regardless of how your opponent voted in the past, you can make a major impact on his or her political calculations by reminding these Democrats that a 'YES' vote on the Senate-passed bill will guarantee them an all-out, full-throated blitz from your campaign and national Republicans throughout the spring, summer, and fall," wrote DeStefano.

Likewise, NRSC Chairman John Cornyn told reporters yesterday that Democrats would be wise to give up on the party's current reform plan, if they know what's good for them in November.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "are being told that it's better to pass something" than nothing, said Cornyn. "But if they pass this bill, this is going to be the issue in November 2010. If they don't pass it and move on to something else, they at least have a fighting chance."

Pelosi and Reid "seem to have no regard for their members' electoral prospects," Cornyn added.

Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg said today on MSNBC's "Daily Rundown" that the Democrats' best move would be to pass the bill, and explain to Americans exactly what's in it and why they should like it. Republicans won back Congress in 1994 shortly after Democrats ended their health care reform efforts.

"In 1994, it was the end of September -- six weeks before the election -- that they gave up on health care," he said. "So it was late in the process, they failed on it, they didn't explain it, the president did not give a major speech saying what it is."

Asked why Republicans wouldn't just let the Democrats vote on the bill if they're certain it will hurt the party in November, Cornyn dismissed it, saying: "There's politics and then there's policy."

The same dynamic is true in the NRCC memo, which calls for Republican challengers to help defeat health care reform while simultaneously noting that any Democrat who votes for it will pay for that vote in the election.

"We are on the road to victory," DeStefano concludes. "Now we must work together to capitalize on the monumental opportunity to stand with the American people and prevent an historic disaster."