Get rid of Bill Owens, get rid of Obamacare.
That's how Republicans are hoping to frame the Nov. 6 election between Mr. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, and challenger Matt Doheny.
Elect Mr. Doheny and get rid of Obamacare? Get rid of some popular provisions in the health-care law. That's the Democratic rebuttal.
The Supreme Court rejected their arguments in a 5-4 decision today; now, Republicans are taking their case on repealing Obamacare to the voters.
"Take Control of Our Healthcare: Don't Send Owens Back," read the most recent news release from the National Republican Congressional Campaign.
As a newly minted member of Congress, Mr. Owens one of the deciding votes in favor of President Obama's health care law.
The Supreme Court today ruled that most of Obamacare is constitutional, including the requirement that all Americans buy health insurance (though it's constructed as a tax).
The Supreme Court is just that: supreme. So there's nowhere else to go for the argument that Obamacare, with its state health exchanges, subsidies and regulations, is not constitutional. But what Republicans are hoping for is to get swept into power in Washington; they're pledging to repeal it once they get there.
Here's Matt Doheny, Mr. Owens' Republican opponent on Nov. 6: "Americans know this bill is bad for our country. We must repeal this bill and that's what I'll do to put America back to work."
And here's the rest of what the NRCC had to say: "The only way to start over is to send new leaders to Washington who will fully repeal this law and promise not to repeat the mistakes that Owens and Nancy Pelosi made in passing it.”
That's what the Obamacare decision hath wrought: the return of the Pelosi boogeywoman.
For Mr. Owens' part, he's saying that the law should be upheld, with some modifications. That includes the repeal of the medical-device excise tax that could harm companies in the eastern part of the district.
And when Mr. Doheny says he's for full repeal, he'll most certainly be asked what Obamacare should be replaced with if it's to be repealed. Some provisions of the law, outlined in this Newsday piece, are very popular. They include a requirement that you can stay on your parents' health insurance until 26. Health care companies also can't deny patients insurance because of pre-existing conditions.
“Matt Doheny wants to let insurance companies kick kids off their parents’ plans, he wants women to be charged more for healthcare just because they're women, and he wants insurance companies to be able to deny coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition," said Josh Schwerin, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "Under Matt Doheny’s plan Medicare would be drastically cut and seniors would be forced to pay more for their prescription drugs.”
Surely, the best possible outcome for Republicans would have been full repeal of the bill to get full repeal of the Bill Owens. If the Supreme Court had overturned the law, health care and Mr. Owens' decision to vote for a flawed law would have become an enormous factor in the race. But Republicans are hoping for second-best: using the continued existence of the law as an albatross to weigh down Democrats' chances.
Repeal might help excite Mitt Romney's base in his fight against President Obama; it remains to be seen whether the Affordable Care Act is as unpopular in the north country as it is in other places in our great nation. After all, voters picked Mr. Owens in 2010 after his votes, with no shortage of being reminded about them.