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David Plouffe 'glad the Republicans called it Obamacare'

March 25, 2012|By David Lauter
  • Carlene Cahill of Petersburg, Va., holds up a set of signs she made during a Tea Party Patriots' "Road to Repeal Rally" on a rainy day in Washington, D.C.
Carlene Cahill of Petersburg, Va., holds up a set of signs she made during… (Allison Shelly / Getty Images )

Reporting from Washington — White House senior adviser David Plouffe stepped up the administration’s public embrace of its healthcare law, saying he would “guarantee” that by the end of the decade “we’re going to be glad the Republicans called it Obamacare.”

In the meantime, however, Plouffe was quick to draft an unwilling ally in the fight to defend the law, saying on two television interview shows that Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and likely Republican presidential nominee, was the “godfather” of Obama’s plan. “His experts” who helped draft Massachusetts' health law “were involved” in planning the Obama law, and the Massachusetts law “was a model” for Obama, Plouffe said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The Massachusetts healthcare law has been a nettlesome problem for Romney. It was one of the major achievements of his tenure as governor – one that he used to tout. But the state law included a requirement that individuals buy insurance, much like the individual mandate in the Obama law. That idea, which originated as a Republican proposal, has since become toxic among GOP voters. Romney’s opponents say he will be unable to attack Obama on the healthcare issue because of his record, and clearly the Obama campaign will try to make that prediction come true.

Romney repeatedly has said that he did not intend his state’s law to be applied nationwide, although back when the law was popular, he seemed to say otherwise.

Until recently, White House officials and the Obama campaign had avoided talking much about the healthcare law, which remains unpopular with large swaths of the population. But with the Supreme Court about to hold three days of arguments on the law’s validity, the spotlight is back on the issue. Obama’s aides have responded by launching a much more visible defense, including a campaign on social media to highlight the stories of people who have been helped by the law. They’ve also grabbed the term “Obamacare,” which Republicans coined as a pejorative, and have begun wielding it as a compliment.

In his interviews on NBC and ABC’s “This Week” program, Plouffe set out the gist of the administration’s case – that the American people have not yet been able to fully evaluate the law because its main provisions don’t take effect until 2014 but that already it has helped several million people. He cited three areas frequently raised by Obama’s team: the law’s requirement that all health plans provide free preventive care, including mammograms for women; the rule allowing parents to keep children in their early 20s on their health plans; and reduced prices for some drugs for senior citizens.

Although polls show that a large percentage of Americans back repealing the law, Plouffe insisted that most Americans “don’t want to re-fight” the political battle. Once the law goes into effect, people will find that it does not resemble the picture that Republican opponents have painted, he said.

Plouffe also outlined some of the main lines of attack that Democrats plan to use against Romney should he become the Republican nominee, saying that he was offering “the same policies that led to the Great Recession.”  If elected, Romney would push “huge tax cuts” for the wealthiest Americans and seek to outlaw abortion, he said. He also accused Romney of trying to oppose Obama’s efforts to end the war in Iraq.

By November, those criticisms would be “seared in the public consciousness,” he said on NBC.

In his ABC interview, Plouffe slapped down another Republican hopeful, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, for his response to Obama’s comments on the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the black teenager shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida last month.

Obama said Friday that if he had a son, the child “would look like Trayvon.” Gingrich accused Obama of playing up the racial aspects of the case, saying “it’s not a question of who the young man looked like” and adding that the president’s position “in a sense is disgraceful.”

“Reprehensible,” Plouffe responded.

“Speaker Gingrich is clearly in the last throes of his political career,” he said. “You can make a decision whether to go out with some shred of dignity or say these irresponsible, reckless things. And he’s clearly chosen the latter.”

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Original source: David Plouffe 'glad the Republicans called it Obamacare'

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