Jonathan Cohn makes the point I wanted to make after seeing Sen. Russ Feingold’s (D-WI) campaign ad touting the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Recognizing that the long drawn out process of passing reform allowed Republicans to define the law as a grandmother killing, job shrinking, cost raising monstrosity and ignore some its more popular provisions, Feingold unwraps the latter from the whole and develops (what could become) a fairly powerful model for selling reform. From the ad:
Senator Feingold has always been on our side, fighting the insurance companies.
But Ron Johnson won’t even get in the ring for us.
Russ fought insurance companies to stop insurance companies from denying Wisconsin children health care due to pre-existing conditions.
Mr. Johnson would put insurance companies back in control. … Letting them raise premiums and increase our costs whenever they want.
Ron Johnson: Hands off my health care.
Hands off my health care.
[Feingold speaking] I’m Russ Feingold and I approve this message because you deserve a senator who’s on your side.
This is smart for several reasons. Not only does the public overwhelming support things like investing in preventive care, denying coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions and eliminating annual and lifetime coverage limits, but the GOP also voted against these policies when the bill came up before proposing to repeal them and replace them with similar (although inferior) ideas in their own health care plans. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) even took credit for the preventive coverage provisions in the law! Could you imagine some of these ads?
Of course Feingold is having this conversation in the context of an economic downturn, growing uninsurance and increasing health care costs — all of which is dutifully chronicled and then blamed on the health law. It’s difficult to argue that breaking up the bill into little pieces will turn around public opinion but at least it reiterates the law’s most popular provisions and allows Democrats to defend the law rather than run away from it.