How Post-Health-Care-Fatigue Syndrome Will Hurt GOP

| Wed Mar. 24, 2010 11:00 AM EDT

Over at PoliticsDaily.com, I have a column today that notes that Washington is now experiencing Post-Health-Care-Fatigue Syndrome, or PHCFS. And I point out there are serious political side-effects to this condition. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated to me and other columnists on Tuesday that she has little interest in pushing legislation advocated by liberal House Democrats to insert a public option into the overhauled health care insurance system. Of course, in the wake of the epic health care reform debate, an exhausted Congress appears unenthusiastic about taking on other heavy lifts—say, immigration reform—especially as the congressional elections near.

But PHCFS may pose a special challenge for those Republicans who plan to make repealing the health care reform legislation their main message for the 2010 elections:

There's no way of telling yet, but my hunch is that a lot of Americans are also exhausted by the reform tussle and may want to move on. Keeping this fight alive could serve the Republicans well among their Tea Party base, but it might turn off independent voters and others who wonder if the GOP has become a party of sore losers, who prefer re-fighting a lost battle to focusing on revving up the economy. The Republican Party is well-positioned to take advantage this fall of what will likely be months of high unemployment. Doing nothing and functioning as little more non-incumbents might serve GOP candidates well. Yet if GOPers come across as crusaders who want to revive the already-settled health care debate, voters may say, who wants to go through that again? After all, the best remedy for PHCFS is rest and resetting the agenda.

Already, the polls have turned in the Democrats' favor, with a near-majority of Americans saying the bill's passage was a positive development. And the Democrats are eager to ju-jitsu any GOP repeal campaign and accuse the Republicans of trying to undo a law that will protect Americans from insurance company abuses. Democratic Party chief Tim Kaine has been daring GOPers to go all-out for repeal: "'Bring back pre-existing conditions' is one helluva bumper sticker, if they want to use it. Alf Landon campaigned on repeal of Social Security in 1936."

There does seem to be some second-thinking going on within GOP circles about an all-out repeal strategy. Maybe the Republicans are getting tired, too.