With national polls showing lukewarm support for the huge health care reform bill passed into law this year, incumbent Democrats on the campaign trail are downplaying their role in their party's historic achievement. Indeed, several Dems are broadcasting their votes against the bill, The New York Times tells us. Not so Patty Murray.
Senator Murray authored the part of the legislation that provides incentives for medical students to go into understaffed professions like primary care and underserved areas like rural communities.
What's more, she continues to proclaim support for an even more radical overhaul. Specifically, she wants a "public option," that is a government-run insurance system. Such a system, she says, "is the best way to lower costs long term."
Republicans, of course, have long argued just the opposite, that government health care would put us on the path to financial ruin, not to mention socialism. In fact, they make the same arguments about the bill already passed--and, believing Murray to be vulnerable in her race against Dino Rossi, they are trying to drag her down with those claims.
On Friday, after President Obama conceded in a press conference that health care reform will temporarily "increase our costs" in order to get more people covered, the National Republican Senatorial Committee issued a statement directed at Murray. Labeling the senator "embattled," it called on her to "tell Washingtonians whether, like President Obama, she was aware the Democrats' massive health care overhaul would raise Americans' health care costs." (Murray's campaign spokesperson Julie Edwards says the senator has not issued a response.)
On the same day, interviewed jointly with Murray by The Seattle Times editorial board, Rossi expanded on this theme, claiming that the Murray-backed law was going to translate into billion-dollar tax increases and lost jobs.
Murray was sticking to her contention, like Obama's, that ultimately costs will go down as the law creates a "competitive marketplace." She was referring to the "insurance exchanges" that will be set up to allow the uninsured to shop around for plans.
And she continued to stump for reform. "I think it's unarguable that the health system we had in place wasn't working for anyone," she said.