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GOP's 'playbook' to deny Americans health care

By Steve Israel
updated 5:08 PM EST, Fri November 22, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Steve Israel: With "playbook" aimed at killing Obamacare, GOP offers politics, not ideas
  • He says GOP offers sabotage; Democrats will fix Obamacare, get health care to Americans
  • He says report shows Obamacare already working; health care spending way down
  • Israel: Count on GOP to root for failure on range of issues; Dems to seek solutions for Americans

Editor's note: Steve Israel is a Democratic representative from New York and chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

(CNN) -- New Yorkers have two ways of looking at a problem. You can ask, "What went wrong, and who do we blame?" or you can roll up your sleeves and ask, "What went wrong, and how do we fix it?"

If anyone in America had any question about which question congressional Republicans would ask, we now have an answer: House Republicans engineered a 17-page playbook detailing how to sabotage and repeal the Affordable Care Act so they can score political points. In this lengthy manual, however, Republicans didn't offer a single idea for solutions, for helping constituents enroll in health care or understand their benefits. Rather, the entire handbook is a tactical guide to tearing down the law.

Republicans have no playbook to create jobs, they have no playbook to build infrastructure, they have no playbook to pass immigration reform, they have no playbook to pass a budget -- and they have no playbook to propose a better health care system.

Steve Israel
Steve Israel

Their only playbook is to take us back to a system that didn't work, that led hardworking people into bankruptcy and gave insurance companies unchecked power to deny care and drop coverage. Democrats, on the other hand, are going to relentlessly remind Americans that one party is willing to fix the Affordable Care Act and that one party -- the Republican Party -- wants to repeal the law and put insurance companies back in charge.

Because when Americans see Republicans in Congress sharing an anecdote or holding a hearing, they can know it is designed to do one thing: Take the country back to the dark days when our health care system didn't work.

As a Democrat who represents countless families who need the reforms from the Affordable Care Act, there's no question in my mind that the problems that have emerged as the health care exchanges have rolled out need to be fixed, and soon, so that the act works for the American people. One thing is clear: We can't go back to a broken system that doesn't cover a woman because she had breast cancer or one in which a 24-year-old is kicked off his parents' insurance.

Rep. Yoho: GOP playbook needs solutions
Priebus: We're obsessed with Obamacare

When Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans feign concern over the problems with the law or the glitches with implementation, they have no credibility.

The law is already measurably helping Americans and the American economy. A report this week from the Council on Economic Advisers said that health care inflation is at the lowest rate in a generation and that health care spending has risen by the lowest rate of growth ever recorded, improvements brought about, in part, by the law. And this is to say nothing of the vital consumer protections the law has brought about.

When the dust clears, the American people will see one basic principle: Democrats are striving to improve the law, and Republicans are striving to sabotage it, rooting for failure and refusing to offer any ideas of their own about how to improve the system.

The debate over health care is a microcosm of the broader debate between Democrats and Republicans about the big issues facing our country, whether it's ending the Medicare guarantee or making sure corporations pay their fair share. In the coming months, we'll see the divide between the parties on full display, as Republicans yet again hurtle the country toward more shutdown showdowns and fiscal brinksmanship this winter.

Make no mistake: As Republicans show that their priority is to protect special interests, destroy the Affordable Care Act and side with insurance companies, Democrats will stand on the side of hardworking families. House Democrats will continue to work to offer commonsense solutions to the American people so that health care works, middle-class families can get ahead and the dysfunction in Washington stops jeopardizing the prosperity of this great nation.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Steve Israel.

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