POLITICS
05/01/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Matthew Dowd: To Hurt Dems, GOP Should Want Health Care To Pass (VIDEO)

A longtime Republican adviser suggested on Monday that the GOP should switch tacks on health care reform -- rather than continue to vilify the process, they should push to get a bill passed and then exploit the opportunity to tie Democrats to the unpopular legislation.

In an appearance on "Good Morning America", Matthew Dowd threw a bit of countervailing logic into the heated, health care debate.

"If you are a Republican, I think they should try as hard as they can to jam it through and pass the bill," he said of the likelihood that Democratic leadership will use reconciliation to pass fixes to the Senate's health care bill.

"I think, as a Republican, that's what you want to see happen because of how unpopular this measure is. So, I don't know if [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)] has the votes. I think the problem is the moderate Democrats who voted for this bill a few months back but now the political environment has changed dramatically. I don't know if she can keep those. But Republicans would like this bill to pass because they know how unpopular it is."

Dowd's argument surely doesn't jibe with the rhetoric spouted by GOP lawmakers, who have vigorously tried to defeat health care reform and to castigate those Democrats who are floating reconciliation as an avenue for passage. But Dowd does have a point, at least from a strictly numerical standpoint -- the Senate bill is unpopular and it grows more so as the debate progresses. The White House is acutely aware of this and stands ready to launch a major campaign to promote the legislation should the bill actually pass. But they have also shied away from adding the one provision, a public option for insurance coverage, that would actually make the legislation more popular with the public while doubling down on a provision, the individual mandate, that polls quite poorly. Much of the Democratic Party, naturally, is bewildered by this strategy.

"I think the benefits of this bill, if you look at the actual specifics of the bill, aren't going to take place for many years," Dowd elaborated. "And I think the real problem for the administration is even if they pass they bill they don't want to spend months trying to sell an unpopular bill. They want to talk about the economy and jobs. That's the Catch-22 situation."

"Right now, it's all upside [for the GOP] whether the bill passes or fails."

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