In a recent survey of twelve battleground districts for The Hill, Democratic pollster Mark Penn found that 56 percent of voters want the new health-care law repealed. “Undecided voters wanted the healthcare law repealed by 49 percent to 27 percent,” said Penn.
The poll strongly suggests that Republican candidates for Congress should get to the right of their Democratic opponents on the law and then highlight the difference. In cases where Republicans are running against Democratic incumbents who voted against the law, that means pledging to repeal it — and challenging the Democrat to do the same.
The most ironclad pledge I’ve seen out there is the one that Independent Women’s Voice and American Majority Action are jointly promoting. The version of the pledge applicable to incumbent members of Congress reads as follows:
I pledge to vote for all bills which seek to REPEAL the health care bill, HR 3590, signed into law on March 23, 2010.
To that end, I do now and will in the next Congress endorse and vote for all measures, including discharge petitions, leading to its defunding, deauthorization, and repeal.
I shall do so whether those measures are taken for the whole of the bill or those component parts that impose mandates, restrict patient and doctor choice and access, violate individual freedom and privacy, reduce healthy competition, increase costs, or raise taxes.
If the Democratic candidate takes the pledge, then the Republican has (a) done some good and (b) made himself look like a leader and the Democrat like a follower. If the Democrat refuses to take the pledge, he has exposed his stated opposition to Obamacare as a pretense. Either way, it’s a win for conservatives.
I’m largely supportive of the House Republicans’ Pledge to America (which includes a commitment to work for the repeal of Obamacare). But this repeal pledge has the potential to do more good for Republicans and, more important, for conservatism. All candidates who say they oppose Obamacare should take the pledge — or be pressed to explain why they won’t.
– Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor at National Review.