The debate over repealing the health care law that will unfold this week on the House floor is politics at its rawest. But you don't have to take our word for it.
"I hope a lot of you lose, and I hope I win," said Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings about his colleagues on the other side of the aisle shortly before the House Rules Committee voted to move the Republican repeal measure to the House floor.
Hastings's nakedly political take on November's elections was received with light-hearted chuckles in the committee room, but the underlying sentiment remains. This week's debate is about winning and losing in November. It has nothing to do with policy making. So here's a look at the campaign style-arguments you can expect on the House floor.
What the Democrats Argue
• What If Repeal Is Costly?
House Republicans will vote on repeal before the Congressional Budget Office estimates its cost. Democrats are hoping to paint Republicans as fiscally irresponsible by showing that they're voting on something before they know how it will impact the country's fiscal house. And if repeal is judged by the non-partisan budget office as putting the government in the red, then Republicans would be guilty of deepening the debt. "In January of 2011, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that repealing the law would cost in excess of $200 billion added to the deficit. I just think ... it's incredibly irresponsible to go forward," said Rep. Robert Andrews, a Democrat from New Jersey.
• Republicans Don't Have a Plan
Democratic lawmakers weren't shy about taking credit for the law, which they say solves important problems with health care. If Republicans repeal the law, they have no solutions for solving Americans' health care problems. "There's never been a plan proposed by the Republicans," said Rep. Sander Levin the ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee.
• Let's Talk About Jobs Instead
On the heels of the Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer's job speech on Monday, Democrats are arguing that health care reform is settled law and that the political the debate should pivot to creating jobs. "I appreciate the chairman of the Rules Committee saying we're gonna give you lots of time on this, but you know what? I don't want lots of time. I want lots of time on a jobs bill. You stalled and stalled and stalled on the transportation bill. That should have been passed months ago. We should be spending hours tomorrow debating the president's jobs proposals, or your jobs proposals," said Rep. Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, on Monday.
What the Republicans Argue
• The Law Makes Things Worse
"The status quo is unacceptable. There's no doubt about it. ... The problem is that the president's law has made things worse," said Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Tom Price. For example, Price said, the bill's cost estimates have already increased; it created the Independent Payment Advisory Board (memorably, called "death panels" during the debate in 2010), and changed Medicare. Republicans are betting that Americans won't like what the law puts in place.
• This Is About Personal Freedom
Rep. Virginia Foxx, who asked her colleagues to reread George Orwell's 1984, boiled the issue down to freedom. "The American people gain from the repeal of this. The difference between liberals in this country and conservatives is the issue of freedom. You and your colleagues want the government to control every aspect of our lives. We do not believe in that," she said.
• There Are Better Ways to Skin the Cat
Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier tried to appeal to the policy wonks in the crowd during Monday's committee hearing, arguing in favor of a five-pronged approach (laid out here, beginning at minute 25) to solving issues with health care. On Dreier's list: the expansion of medical savings accounts, the implementation of association health plans, and tort reform.
Homespun anecdotes from members' districts about how much their constituents either love or hate the law.