LEWISTON, Idaho — House Republicans took a massive political risk this week: They passed unpopular legislation to reform and replace the Affordable Care Act with no sense of how much it would cost or how many Americans it would (or won’t) cover. Or whether the Senate will even act on it.
What Republicans desperately need now is an aggressive messaging effort aimed at explaining to a wary public why the American Health Care Act will actually make their lives better.
Raul Labrador did the exact opposite of all that at a town hall meeting in Lewiston, Idaho, on Friday.
“Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care,” the Republican congressman from Idaho said in response to a statement by a woman that the “lack of health care was essentially asking people to die,” according to local CBS station KLEW.
If you didn’t hear that line before now, never fear: You’ll be hearing it A LOT more in Democratic campaign ads over the next 18 months or so.
Labrador, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, won’t likely lose re-election in ruby red Idaho. But what he did Friday was give Democrats a ready-made attack line against every vulnerable House Republican who voted for (or even against) the AHCA.
Labrador’s quote affirms absolutely everything that Democrats have been arguing about Republicans since the fight over the GOP health care plan began: That they are out of touch with the average person and simply don’t understand (or don’t care) about the real-world implications of their policy proposals.
And, worse yet: It was captured on video, meaning that it can be played (and seen) over and over again from now all the way until November 2018. (Already, Labrador’s comments have become national news, being run on a loop on cable TV.)
House Republicans badly need a disciplined message effort if they want to turn the public’s view of the AHCA around. Labrador started that effort off on the exact wrong foot on Friday.
Raul Labrador, for ensuring you’ll be in a whole lot of Democratic attack ads over the next year and a half, you had the worst week in Washington, Congrats, or something.