UPDATED: 10:15 AM
Right after the United States Supreme Court upheld most of the Affordable Care Act (ACA - referred to by Republican politicians as being Obamacare), 16th District Congressman Jim Renacci (Republican - Wadsworth) issued a challenge to 13th District Congresswoman Betty Sutton (Democrat - Copley) to agree to a debate in Strongsville to a debate of the merits of the legislation.
The two, though both are incumbent congresspersons, are running against each other for the right to continue in Congress as the 16th district representative. That's because Ohio lost two seats due to a loss of population as established by the 2010 decentenial census as required by the U.S. Constitution.
The 16th District includes Jackson Township, Lawrence Township, parts of Lake Township, North Canton and dips down into Canton's 5th Ward (represented in Canton City Council by Democrat Kevin Fisher) to include The Timken Company headquarters (a rich source of campaign contributions for Congressman Renacci).
Sutton's response: The Supreme Court has made its decision, it is time to move on to other issues.
Could Sutton be making a huge political mistake in not taking Renacci on in a debate?
The SCPR thinks she might be. But undoubtedly if she is, she has her "politically motivated" reasons.
Could it be that she has not schooled herself in the deficiencies of the current in place broken system of health care insurance and the fixes thereto in order to stand toe-to-toe with Renacci as he spills out the spin provided him by the National Republican Party?
The SCPR believes that in spin against spin the Republicans win the battle to control the minds and hearts of ordinary Americans. The polls all show this.
The Democrats have developed there own spin which is "tit-for-tat" and they do not go where they ought to in order in terms of truly understanding the health care insurance problem to be able to square up against the Republicans.
Renacci must sense this about Sutton intuitively and therefore with a great deal of bravado puts her on the defensive.
Touche for him in a political gamesmanship perspective. But Americans are not served well by this kind of political posturing on both sides.
The SCPR's take own the "true" feeling about the Affordable Care Act is more mixed than its bad, bad, bad or great, great, great.
There are features like coverage of children until they are 26 under a parents policy and the ban on disqualifying applicants for insurance on the basis of preexisting condition that are not going away even if the Republicans are able to repeal Obamacare.
The Republicans will include in any repeal effort savings clauses for those two provisions at a very minimum. However, in the spin game that politicians always play, they would nonetheless claim total repeal.
It appears to The Report and other political observers across the nation that the more American learn of the ACA free of the political spin, the more they find to like about it.
Who knows? Over time it could come to: why did we oppose this law in the first place?
Renacci showed how utterly dishonest he is with himself and of course with his constituents in putting out this blurb in a recent release, to wit:
Out of the 248 responses to last week’s survey asking if the health care law should be repealed despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, 78% believe it should be repealed, 21% believe it should not and 1% were not sure.
The congressman knows full well that national polls exist that show the American public to be much more balanced than his self-serving poll numbers indicate.
And, of course, who put out the poll he now quotes? How about the "Re-elect Renacci Your Congressman Campaign Committee?
Who might self-select to bolster a pre-announced Congressman Renacci advocacy of repeal? Of course, those who have long shared the congressman's position. The more surprising point is that 21% would buck the Renacci-led tide and vote no notwithstanding the futility of thereby influencing the congressman.
Whether one supports Renacci or not in his overall qualities as a representative, all should be disappointed that the man resorts to what the SCPR thinks is a dishonest manipulation of his constituents to make it look like he is in the mainstream of his constituents take on the Affordable Care Act.
Shame on Congressman Renacci! To try and palm his self-serving poll off on the reading public is a direct insult to and contemptuous of the intelligence of the public.
Sutton can go a long ways in forcing Renacci off his talking points by educating herself (and co-incidentally the 16th District's voting public) not with Democratic National Committee talking points, but with actual studied knowledge of the problems and their fixes.
She could call him on his bluff on his proposed debate!
And if Sutton is particularly industrious and curious about getting to the heart of the matter, she might even engage him in a probing conversation.
But will she?
Not likely. It is easier for her to run and hide with the lame "we have other issues to discuss."
Yours truly being a constituent of the 16th thinks that Renacci's idea is terrific. It is sad that Sutton only thinks of it in terms of not being worth the effort of airing the issue out because she sees a political benefit to taking her Supreme Court victory and leaving it at that.
But that's what we citizens come to expect of our politicians: Republican or Democrat.
The official position of Republicans is to "repeal and replace Obamacare."
There is no doubt that Republicans will repeal the ACA if they capture the Senate, maintain control of the House of Representatives and Mitt Romney is elected president of the United States.
In a bit of political grandstanding, the Republican controlled House has scheduled a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The U.S. Senate is controlled by Democrats and therefore will not be on the Senate's agenda. So the matter is just what the SCPR has termed it to be in the first sentence of this paragraph: political grandstanding.
Exactly what most Americans like to see out of their politicians, no?
According to a report from the United States Census Bureau on the basis of the 2010 census, 49.9 million Americans have no health insurance. (LINK)
So is there any doubt that if Republicans were to successfully repeal the ACA that they have to come up with some alternative?
The Report believes that most Americans think so. Right now, it is not a question of whether or it is desirable for your friends, neighbors and relatives and, indeed, everyone to have basic medical coverage; it is a question of putting together the "best plan" in terms of getting the most bang for the federal bucks spent on health care coverage.
This is where the SCPR thinks Renacci and the Republicans could be vulnerable in a debate were Sutton to reverse course and take him on.
Instructive on the Republican plan on the "replacement" aspect of "repeal and replace," is an exchange that took place between Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) in a recent interview with FoxNews' Chris Wallace as shared by Ezra Klein (of the Washington Post) as a substitute host on the Madow Show. (LINK)
Wallace to McConnell: "In your replacement, how would you provide universal coverage?"
All McConnell was willing to do with Wallace was to say that the Republican plan is a step-by-step-by-step plan. No specifics.
"Step-by-step-by-step, or whatever, there is a Republican plan. It is contained in a amendment to HB 3962 offered by in the House in 2009.
According to this plan, the Republicsns would:
- enact tort reform in order to cut down on the malpractice suits against medical providers and thereby lowering costs on the provision of medical service which would presumably make health insurance cheaper,
- allow insurers to sell across state lines and thereby give the uninsured more insurer choices and presumably lower prices because of more competition,
- improve high risk pools so that the uninsured are able (though afflicted with a "pre-existing medical condition) would have improved opportunities to obtain insurance which outside of Obamacare would not be available.
- provide grants to states so that they can research and develop better "Medicaid" coverage alternatives.
Well, look at this chart published by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO):
If the CBO can be believed, the Republican plan brings in about 3 million of the uninsured by 2019 whereas Obama's plan brings in about 30 million.
So under the ACA, between the individual mandate that Americans who can afford to pay for insurance but choose not to (apparently, about 20 million) in fact purchase it or be "taxed?" or "penalized?" (choose your favorite way of describing the required payment) and the 30 million "unaffordables" who will be brought in via Medicaid, one arrives at a universal coverage status.
On the other hand, under the Republican plan, if implemented, 3 million of the 50 million uninsured would be covered leaving 47 million uncovered.
How is that a universal coverage plan?
Obviously, it is not. But the lack of a thoroughgoing plan is consistent with a political party that is becoming to be known as "the party of NO" so that it can ride the difficulties of the party in power to political victory.
The party of NO? Heh. Quite a different political party that yours truly was a member of for some 35 years.
Some political observers believe that the reality is that national Republicans are foot dragging at the very best (e.g. McConnell's "step-by-step-by-step), or, in a pessimistic take, on what these observers say is an opposition to universal coverage as a matter of political party philosophy. However, not wanting to appear to be casting some 47 million Americans to the winds on heath care, put forward a plan to make it seem they are moving in a universal care direction. As the graphic above shows, 3 million more covered within 7 years is hardly a convincing case.
So, once again, why isn't Sutton interested in putting Renacci on the spot in a public debate that would undoubtedly be prominently and generously covered by media (perhaps even national media)?
Her "let's move on to other issues" stance makes no sense to the SCPR.
Does she really think that Renacci is going to let her off that easy?
So she is going to let him hammer away at her with rhetorical flourishes in campaign ads and carefully structured and safe town hall meetings (which will be covered by the media) about Obamacare being, according to Republican Party talking points directives, "a job killing bill" and the like?
Well, if she is, it could be the end of a promising opportunity to stay in Congress.
Currently, according to a Cleveland Plain Dealer piece (Poll shows Rep. Betty Sutton with slight lead over Rep. Jim Renacci, July 3, 2012, Sabrina Eaton LINK), she is in the lead in this race, to wit:
The poll conducted by pollsters Normington, Petts & Associates shows Sutton ahead of Renacci by a 41 to 38 percent margin. Libertarian Jeff Blevins had 4 percent in the telephone survey of 400 likely general election voters. The poll conducted between June 26 and 28 had a 4.9 percent margin of error.The SCPR thinks that Sutton owes it the constituents of the "new" 16th Congressional District to debate Renacci on the healthcare insurance issue for the public benefit.
She might be surprised, she may herself benefit by looking Renacci's debate challenge square in the eyes a saying: "Okay pal, if that's what you want that is what you will get and I will be prepared."
Could it be that her reluctance to debate the issue is that she does not have debating skills which she thinks matches up well against Renacci?
While The Report has not seen her debate, yours truly has seen Renacci and he is nothing special!
Of course, there are other issues. There should be a series of debates. But one should be devoted to the viability of the Affordable Care Act.
What are you afraid of Betty?