Walden: Obamacare a ‘Category 5 Political Hurricane’

House Democrats should apologize for the health care law, NRCC chair says.

WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 04:  Majority Transition Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) answers reporters' questions about the upcoming transition of power in the House of Representatives at the U.S. Captiol November 4, 2010 in Washington, DC. Walden said that his committee will put out an actual "suggestion box" and ask new and returning members for suggestions on how to make the House more effecient.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
National Journal
Alex Roarty
Nov. 15, 2013, 4:03 a.m.

The man in charge of House Re­pub­lic­ans’ cam­paign ef­forts said Fri­day that Obama­care will be the de­fin­ing is­sue of the 2014 midterms, but he de­clined to pre­dict how many seats his party will win next year.

“I be­lieve it more now than ever,” Rep. Greg Walden, chair­man of the Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Con­gres­sion­al Com­mit­tee, told re­port­ers dur­ing an event hos­ted by The Chris­ti­an Sci­ence Mon­it­or. “Now that it has be­come a cat­egory 5 polit­ic­al hur­ricane, it is not just caus­ing hav­oc in cer­tain re­gions of the coun­try, it is rip­ping apart every re­gion of the coun­try.”

On Thursday, Pres­id­ent Obama an­nounced that in­sur­ance com­pan­ies could con­tin­ue to sell ex­ist­ing plans for one year even if the policies don’t meet the law’s stand­ards. People los­ing their in­sur­ance, com­bined with the in­ab­il­ity of many con­sumers to pur­chase new health plans on mal­func­tion­ing Obama­care web­sites, have fo­mented a back­lash from the pub­lic.

Walden said House Demo­crats, like the pres­id­ent, needed to apo­lo­gize to the pub­lic for the can­celed policies. Re­gard­less, he said, voters will pun­ish them at the bal­lot box next year. “If you don’t like your Demo­crat­ic House mem­ber, you don’t have to keep him or her,” Walden joked, quot­ing a ra­dio host friend of his.

The NR­CC chair de­murred when asked if his party would win seats, but he said the GOP “clearly has the abil­ity to gain seats — a net-gain seats — in 2014.”

Demo­crats had boas­ted after last month’s gov­ern­ment shut­down that they were in a prime po­s­i­tion to gain seats in the lower cham­ber, in and of it­self an im­press­ive feat dur­ing a midterm elec­tion where the pres­id­ent’s party tra­di­tion­ally loses seats. Walden ac­know­ledged that the shut­down was not well re­ceived by the pub­lic, but said there was a key dif­fer­ence between that and Obama­care: Even­tu­ally, the gov­ern­ment was fun­ded.

“The thing about Obama­care is it con­tin­ues on,” he said.

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