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House Speaker John Boehner in Capitol Hill's Statuary Hall after the health care law repeal vote. (AP)

Health Law Fight Gives Both Sides 2012 Campaign Fodder

Jan 20, 2011

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With the House GOP's passage Wednesday evening of legislation to repeal the health care law, that chamber's Republican majority has come about as close as it's likely to for the next two years to overturning the new law, at least comprehensively.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Senate minority leader, said he intends to get a Senate vote on the repeal law.

His path to doing so is by no means clear, however since Democrats still control that chamber's agenda. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has flatly said he won't bring the House bill up for debate.

Thus, the repeal bill's fate is probably not unlike that of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, the anti-global warming bill the then-Democratic led House passed in June 2009 which went nowhere in the Senate.

Actually, its future is probably even bleaker since the Senate's leadership actually supported the global warming bill as did President Obama.

So where does that leave us? Essentially with a ready made 2012 campaign issue for both sides. Republicans have pledged to do everything they can to rob the law of the funding it needs to be fully implemented.

As NPR's Andrea Seabrook reported Thursday on Morning Edition:

Now because this bill is unlikely to even come up on the Senate floor, Republicans say they'll find every other way possible to dismantle and defund the law, through other legislation and regular government spending bills. And this is only the beginning of theie two-year pitch to the American people that Republicans should be the ones running the government.

To Andrea's point, Republicans will be able to tell supporters that they delivered as much as they could with the power they had and that they need the Senate and White House to bring home a comprehensive repeal.

A possible problem with that is that while it's likely to play well with the conservative base which by and large hates what Republicans call Obamacare, the argument works less well with independents.

Meanwhile, every action by House Republicans at defunding will likely be greeted by House Democrats and Obama Administration officials as another chance to point to the stories of real Americans who've been helped by some part of the new law.

It gives them the chance to make arguments they didn't make last year when the law was more unpopular generally.

It also allows Democrats to make one of the more powerful arguments in American politics, that other side aims to reduce tangible benefits being received by voters and that their side is the only thing preventing it.

So at the very least, Both Republicans and Democrats were given some fresh fodder for the 2012 general election by Wednesday's action.

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