POLITICS: PennAve

In spite of health care law flaws, Nancy Pelosi predicts great success

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Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio,Obamacare,Harry Reid,Health Care,2014 Elections,Nancy Pelosi,Campaigns,PennAve

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi this week predicted that despite the troubled rollout, the health care law will eventually become a tremendously successful.

"It's going to be a glorious thing," Pelosi told reporters in a Monday conference call. "It's about life, a healthier life, liberty, the freedom to pursue our happiness. It honors the vows of our founders. A person can follow his or her passion and not be chained by a policy, so they could start a business, be self-employed, change jobs. It's a very, very exciting thing. And it's about wellness and prevention. It's about the health of America, not just the health care for Americans."

Pelosi offered copious praise for the law in response a warning by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., that the law and problems associated it might hurt vulnerable Democrats up for re-election next year.

"The Democrats right now are feeling the weight of it," Manchin said on CNN's "State of the Union." "And it needs to turn around."

A string of polls have shown the law is becoming increasingly unpopular because of the website problems, high premiums, high deductibles and limited health care choices associated with it.

Pelosi compared the law to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and said the transformative nature of the program meant it would require time to work out the initial glitches, which she said were nonetheless disappointing to the Democrats who voted to pass the law.

"We will ride this out," Pelosi said.

As for the 2014 election, Pelosi said by then, the health care law would either help Democrats on the ballot or have no impact at all.

Most voters, Pelosi said, will not be focused on health care but rater the economy.

Voters will also be paying attention to gun control and immigration reform, Pelosi added.

"There'll be other issues that weigh in discretely for people, but how successful the economy is, I think, will be the overriding issue," she said.

Democrats in recent days have moved to shift the focus away from the health care law, coordinating the party's messaging around issues of "economic fairness," that include a minimum-wage increase and the extension of federal unemployment insurance benefits, which expire on Dec. 28.

Pelosi said on the conference call that she supports a plan to extend unemployment benefits for three months, even if the $6 billion cost is added to the deficit.

"I don't necessarily subscribe to the idea that the unemployment benefits need to paid for," Pelosi said. "Workers pay into a system as they are working. We have always considered this an emergency, an emergency that springs from a downturn in the economy, and that therefore there does not need to be an offset to it."

Republicans, however, are only willing to consider extending unemployment insurance if the cost is covered by other revenue, so Democrats in the House have come up with the idea of using savings from the still-unpassed farm bill, which authorizes spending on agricultural and nutrition programs.

Pelosi said she and other Democrats, including President Obama, want the the benefits extended without using those savings.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said on the conference call she was concerned the savings in the farm bill would be derived from cuts in the food stamp program that Republicans are eager to implement.

"We are going to either take food out of the mouths of people who are already in a difficult position, or are we going to hurt people who, through no fault of their own, have lost a job and who are looking for a job," DeLauro said. "Where is the morality in all of that?"

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he will bring a bill to the floor in January authored by Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., that would extend unemployment benefits for three months without any cuts or additional revenue to pay for it.

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