Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) offered a more measured appraisal of ObamaCare’s success than many of his Democratic colleagues on Wednesday.
He also said Democrats have no control over whether the tide turns on the law.
His comments come as many party leaders are declaring victory on the Affordable Care Act, following better-than-expected enrollments — 7.1 million Americans signed up by the end of the open enrollment period this week.
“The debate over repealing this law is over,” President Obama said to a standing ovation in the Rose Garden on Tuesday, when announcing the enrollment figures.
Obama added: “This law is doing what it’s supposed to do. It’s working. It’s helping people from coast to coast.
And Israel's comments run counter to declarations from other party leaders that Democrats could run and win on the law this cycle.
His caution is likely informed, in part, by the fact that most polling indicates Americans are still split on the law, with the most recent survey, out from Quinnipiac University on Wednesday morning, showing 55 percent opposed to the law with 41 percent in favor. A Washington Post/ABC News poll out this week showed a much closer split on the law with registered voters, with 48 percent supporting it and 50 percent opposed.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday took a similarly cautious tone on whether the law would be a political advantage for Democrats, though she called the 7.1 million figure “heartwarming for those of us who worked so hard” to pass the law.
“We’re not running on healthcare, but we’re not running away from it,” Pelosi said.
But Israel did double down on Democrats’ offensive message on the law, that Republican efforts to repeal it hurt the middle class. He said that message resonates particularly well with independent voters.
“Independents are turned off with this obsession, relentless obsession with repeal, repeal, repeal,” he said, adding it’s “turning off independents and turning them to us.”
He said Democrats will “hold [Republicans] responsible with a robust offense on what repeal means” for Americans, pointing to various benefits of the law Democrats say would disappear if Republicans had their way, like the provision that bars insurers from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.