During the Supreme Court’s oral arguments on the president’s health care law, Justice Antonin Scalia asked a good question: If Washington can control something as personal as our health care, what can’t it control? The question gets at the fundamental reason the health care law is so unpopular: It takes something — health care — that’s traditionally been left to individuals and families, and places it in the hands of unelected bureaucrats. It is no wonder Justice Anthony Kennedy called the law “unprecedented” in its scope and influence over the lives of Americans.
This has led many Democrats to run away from their past support for the president and his health care law. Nowhere is this more evident than in the race to replace retiring North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad.
Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, who markets herself as an “independent voice” for North Dakota, is running at a Usain Bolt-like speed away from the president’s health care law. Heitkamp’s website doesn’t even allude to her support for the law; it is gone like a piece of North Dakota wheat in the wind.
The group American Future Fund has taken notice and has a new ad tying Heitkamp to the law:
The president’s health care law is extremely unpopular in North Dakota, in part because it hurts the state’s seniors by cutting Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B by “$1.05 trillion over the first 10 years and $4.95 trillion over the first 20 years.” That’s why North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple signed SB 2309, a bill that directs the state’s legislature to “consider enacting any measure necessary to prevent the enforcement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.”
It’s understandable that someone running as an independent voice would want to distance herself from one of the most partisan and unpopular bills in decades. But groups like the American Future Fund and others are not going to let Heitkamp hide from her past positions. It is important that the voters of North Dakota know what Heidi Heitkamp stands for.
Thomas Grier writes on constitutional law, campaigns and elections, and pro-growth policy. He holds degrees from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and Arizona State University. He lives in Arizona with his beautiful wife and two amazing children. Follow Thomas on Twitter.
Correction: An earlier version of this article suggested that Heitkamp is running for Senator Jon Tester’s seat. In fact, Tester represents Montana.