WASHINGTON (AP) — A defiant House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi declared firmly Thursday that the health care law looms as a political winner for her party this fall, despite ceaseless Republican attacks and palpable nervousness among some of her rank and file who fear their re-election may be in jeopardy because of it.
“We just couldn’t be prouder” of the legislation, Pelosi told a news conference where she said the law already has resulted in “better coverage, more affordable, better quality” insurance for nearly 12 million people.
The California Democrat’s appearance was timed for the fourth anniversary of the bill’s signing by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010, an occurrence that few other congressional Democrats seem inclined to herald at a time when party strategists seek a strategy to blunt criticism from Republicans and their allies.
The first test of their strategy ended inauspiciously for Democrats in Florida recently, where Republicans won a special election for a House seat after a costly campaign in which the health care law played a heavy role in television advertising.
Pelosi has said the defeat was due more to the make-up of a district long in Republican hands. Other Democrats speaking privately concede the health care law played a role. Opinion surveys indicate the public generally wants to improve the law rather than repeal it, and party strategists are urging lawmakers to take credit for its benefits at the same time they emphasize their desire to change portions of it.
Some Republicans seemed delighted that Pelosi had chosen to trumpet an issue the GOP seeks to put front and center in the campaign. In remarks released even before she spoke, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said, “Obamacare has led to higher premiums, fewer choices and enormous complications even for people who already had insurance. It’s forced painful choices for people who could barely get by as it was.”