House Democrats own ObamaCare and they'll run on it aggressively ahead of November's elections, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday.
"The fact is that the Affordable Care Act [ACA] is our bill," he said during a press briefing in the Capitol. "We think it's good for America. We supported it, and we still do. … And I urge my members to go out and embrace it.
"Now we can ... shuck and jive and, you know, bob and weave and duck and hide," he added, "[but] I don't think that works."
Republicans are hoping the troubles that have plagued President Obama's healthcare reform law – particularly the botched rollout of the administration's online insurance menu – will pay dividends at the polls, and they've focused intently on the law as a Democratic liability with voters.
GOP leaders were energized by this month's special election victory in Florida, where Republican David Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink in a contest where her support for the healthcare law became a central issue.
“If you’re a Democrat in one of those crossover seats, I’d be panicked this morning, because their playbook they’ve given [Democrats] is to run on ObamaCare," Rep. Greg Walden (Ore.), head of the National Republican Congressional Committee said after Jolly's win. "Go support the president and go support ObamaCare, and they tried that out and it failed."
Hoyer on Tuesday downplayed the ACA's influence on the Florida race, noting that the seat in question had been held by the Republicans for almost 60 years. However, it's a swing district President Obama carried twice.
"They spent some ... $5 million in Florida on the Affordable Care Act and Alex Sink, a district they'd held for ... 58 years," he said of the conservative groups that poured money into the race. "And they won it by 1.8 percent. [It] doesn't seem to me like that had an overwhelming devastating effect on the election. Period.
"At worst I think it'll be a neutral [factor]," he added. "At worst."
Hoyer's comments echo those of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who recently marked the four-year anniversary of the ACA by predicting it will be a Democratic asset on the campaign trail this year.
“You have to ask them, the member, but I believe that it’s a winner,” Pelosi said last Thursday.
Hoyer said that, for Democrats, the worst is over, and that public support for the law will only increase as more and more people see the benefits.
"I don't think that the Affordable Care Act is the coup de grâce that the Republicans this it is. As people join up, as people experience it, as people see the advantages that they're getting, are going to say, 'Well, this is a pretty good deal,'" he said.
"My proposition is: It's ours. We think it's good. We need to sell it," he added. "If you feel guilty, people are going to think you are guilty."