Dems seek upper hand with healthcare attack

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is seeking the upper hand on healthcare issues by re-igniting a line of attack that accuses Republicans of voting to keep taxpayer-funded lifetime healthcare for themselves. 

Born in the summer of 2012, the attack suggests that Republican opponents of ObamaCare are seeking to recapture a set of generous congressional healthcare benefits that were lost under the law. 

The charge takes center stage in a new online ad campaign that also blames the GOP for last year's government shutdown. The effort is targeting 11 House Republicans. 

GOP lawmakers "shut down the government but voted to keep taxpayer-funded healthcare for life," the online ad states. 

Underscoring the ad's theme, DCCC spokesman Josh Schwerin accused Republicans of putting "perks ahead of American taxpayers" in a statement.

Calling the attack false, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) pointed to language in the House GOP budget that bars retired members from receiving free healthcare for life.

"This sad attack from the party that brought you ObamaCare is not only demonstrably false but yet another tired distraction," said NRCC spokesman Daniel Scarpinato in a statement.

Scarpinato also argued that Dems were trying to shift attention away from the Obama administration's new climate regulations.

The campaign is evidence that Democrats are willing to play offense on certain healthcare issues ahead of November. 

Last fall, Republicans controlled the narrative on healthcare as ObamaCare's rollout encountered serious setbacks, but the party has become less focused on the issue in the last month. 

Both parties are in a tricky position with regard to the Affordable Care Act. 

The law remains largely unpopular with the public, and vulnerable Democrats cannot fully embrace it without political fallout. Notably, the DCCC's online campaign alludes to ObamaCare but does not mention the law, a sign of the risks involved. 

Republicans' position became weaker this spring, however, after a wave of good news for ObamaCare forced the GOP to abandon several key talking points against the law.