In the first television ad of his Senate campaign in Georgia, Rep. Phil Gingrey issued a pledge: If elected, he will not seek a second term unless Obamacare is repealed during his first one.
Sure, Gingrey’s 71, so maybe it’s a hollow gesture — senators nearing 80 might be a bit more wary of running for reelection. Still, it got some attention from his foes. Chief among them, Rep. Paul Broun blasted out a statement saying repeal isn’t enough; he has written legislation to replace the hated health care law.
The botched implementation of the Affordable Care Act has handed Republicans a political tool to deploy against Democrats across the country next year. But Georgia’s crowded GOP primary is demonstrating that the law also can be used in intra-party spats, as Republicans try to outdo one another with their opposition.
Indeed, that this pair of House conservatives (and physicians!) are on the same side of the health care fight isn’t getting in the way of campaign-trail maneuvering that until now had looked pretty much limited to the more traditional Republican versus Democrat variety.
In Gingrey’s TV spot, images of President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid flash across the screen as the candidate emphasizes the need to repeal Obamacare. Democrats are painted as the villains of the health care saga, but Gingrey’s promise to only serve one term if the law isn’t repealed is aimed in a different direction: at his fellow Republicans who, presumably, are unwilling to make the same promise.
“Every GOP Senate candidate says he or she wants to get rid of Obamacare, and this pledge is a way of putting some skin in the game,” Gingrey spokeswoman Jen Talaber told National Journal.
The Georgians’ jockeying is playing out in Washington too, where three days after Gingrey’s ad was released House Republicans approved a bill that would allow health insurance providers to continue selling policies that don’t meet the standards set by the Affordable Care Act. Broun voted no, saying the legislation did nothing to address Obamacare’s long-term problems. He was one of only four Republicans to vote no and, perhaps more important, the only voice of opposition among Georgia’s Senate hopefuls. Gingrey and fellow Rep. Jack Kingston, also seeking the GOP Senate nomination, voted for the measure.
Former Secretary of State Karen Handel, another contender for the GOP nod, can’t vote to repeal the law but that’s not stopping her from using its unpopularity to her own advantage. She’s running radio ads criticizing members of Congress for receiving special treatment under Obamacare. The ads don’t call out her competitors by name, but the spots ran on radio stations in all three of their districts.
Certainly, not every Republican is using Obamacare as a wedge issue in the primary. “We’re just focused on doing what we can to fight the law and provide some relief to Georgians from it,” said Kingston spokesman Chris Crawford. “I don’t think we would engage in one-upmanship when it comes to it.”
But the focus on Obamacare in the primary fight may only be a preview of the general election, when likely Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn will face a barrage of health-care-related attacks from her eventual Republican opponent. To win the nomination, that Republican first may have to survive a purity test, convincing GOP primary voters that he or she is the strongest voice in a crowd full of critics.
What We're Following See More »
In a unanimous decision, "the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it violates insider-trading laws for a corporate officer to make a “gift” of insider information to a relative, a decision that makes it easier for those who police Wall Street to bring prosecutions."
House Speaker Paul Ryan has decreed that House members "won’t receive their committee assignments until January — after they cast a public vote on the House floor for speaker. "The move has sparked behind-the-scenes grumbling from a handful of Ryan critics, who say the delay allows him and the Speaker-aligned Steering Committee to dole out committee assignments based on political loyalty rather than merit or expertise." The roll call to elect the speaker is set for Jan. 3, the first vote of the new Congress.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Monday that the government funding bill will be released on Tuesday. The bill is the last piece of legislation Congress needs to pass before leaving for the year and is expected to fund the government through the spring. The exact time date the bill would fund the government through is unclear, though it is expected to be in April or May.
As has been rumored for a week, Donald Trump will nominate Ben Carson, his former rival, to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In a statement, Trump said, "We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up."