- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Besides blasting Republicans, the Democratic National Committee is attacking insurance companies in its latest TV ads to promote

President Obama’s health care overhaul, accusing the industry of shamefully putting profits above Americans’ health.

The ad drubs insurers for bumping up the cost of premiums and co-pays “faster than your paycheck,” and accuses them of dictating decisions on treatment that are “denying you coverage while their profits soar.”

As the health care debate sizzles into late summer, the Democratic Party - knocked to its heels by sagging public support - is pushing back with national and targeted television ads aimed at dismissing Republican Party rhetoric.

Democratic leaders are hitting the Republican Party as the party of “do nothing,” criticizing Republicans for offering no viable alternative to fix the most expensive health care system in the world that leaves an estimated 45 million Americans uninsured.

In a national cable television advertisement running this month titled “The cost of doing nothing,” the DNC says families, small businesses and the economy will suffer without immediate and comprehensive health care reform.

“Republicans prefer the status quo, so we thought it important to highlight the cost of doing nothing,” said DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan said. “They’re offering nothing, and we thought that was a very important distinction to make.”

Tom Miller, a health care expert with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, calls the Democrat’s strategy “tactical desperation.”

“It suggests a position of weakness rather than strength,” he said.

Mr. Miller adds that the administration and Democrats are hoping to deflect criticism of a flawed health care plan by singling out the insurance industry because it’s an “entity that polls worse than the current congressional health legislation.”

For the Republicans part, no national television or radio campaign is planned for the coming weeks to attack the Democrats’ proposal. Instead, the Republican National Committee is hoping to capitalize on the Democrats’ waning public support by airing attack radio ads in the districts of four conservative House Democrats who support the legislation.

“Our campaign (this month) has been totally targeted,” said RNC spokeswoman Gail Gitcho. She said the ad buy cost about $1 million.

While polls show public support for the administration’s health care plan has dropped in recent months, there remains significant interest in reforming the nation’s health care system on some level.

A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey taken Aug. 1-2 shows that 48 percent of voters rate the U.S. health care system as good or excellent - an increase of 13 percentage points from a similar poll taken in May. A year ago, just 29 percent of likely voters rated the system in such positive terms.

The latest Rasmussen survey also shows that just 19 percent of respondents rate the nation’s health care system as poor. The poll also shows that 80 percent of those with insurance rate their own coverage as good or excellent - up from 70 percent in May.

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