Democrats — May 6, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Time for Dems to Stand Behind Elizabeth Colbert Busch


Let’s just remember who our opponent is in this race.

The race to win South Carolina’s 1st District Congressional seat in a special election on Tuesday is virtually a dead heat. Former Republican Governor Mark Sanford has closed in on Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch’s early lead, with at least one poll putting him one point ahead.

From what I’ve seen, Sanford has largely achieved this through attack ads and accusations. Although, honestly, I can’t believe voters aren’t shaking their heads over his talking-to-a-cardboard-cutout-of-Nancy-Pelosi stunt. I’m not even going to get into his personal transgressions.

But some Democrats aren’t exactly helping Colbert Busch’s cause, vilifying her for the comments she made about Obamacare during her debate with Sanford. I expected Republicans to pounce on it, but Democrats are piling on, too. Colbert Busch may not have chosen the best words, but what she was saying — that a huge, new federal program is going to have some initial challenges that need to be addressed — has been echoed by even the Affordable Care Act’s strongest supporters.

Here’s what Colbert Busch said, as quoted in the Wall Street Journal:

Obamacare is extremely problematic, it is expensive, it is a $500 billion [higher] cost than we originally anticipated, it’s cutting into Medicare benefits and it’s having companies lay off their employees because they are worried about the cost of it. That is extremely problematic, it needs an enormous fix.

Let’s remember that the companies who are laying off employees because of Obamacare wouldn’t be giving their employees healthcare coverage anyway, and many barely pay a living wage. It’s also important to remember that the “cuts” to Medicare are being reinvested into Medicare to ultimately expand benefits for seniors. In other words, it’s a spending shift, not a spending cut. And, if we’re going to parse every word said during the debate, let’s also pay attention to the fact that Sanford claimed not to hear Colbert Busch’s questions about his personal life or fiscal policies as Governor.

But let’s also compare the two candidates’ official positions on Obamacare. Sanford said during the debate he would defund Obamacare, while Colbert Busch has said she would work to improve it moving forward, as she outlined on her campaign website:

It’s time to be practical and not political. I believe there are good and bad provisions in the new law and that more needs to be done. I will work with patients, providers, hospitals and businesses in the 1st District to implement what works and fix what doesn’t.

I support covering everyone, without regard to pre-existing conditions or gender. I support allowing a parent to carry a child up to 26 years of age on their policy and giving Americans the security of knowing they won’t lose coverage if they change jobs or are laid off. And because of the law’s Medicare provisions, hundreds of thousands of South Carolina seniors have received free preventative care and together saved nearly $70 million dollars on the cost of prescription drugs since the law was enacted.

But we can do more. We must rein in the costs to our families, businesses and taxpayers. We can do more to root out waste and fraud, to promote preventative care, and to use electronic records to cut red tape.

I’m a staunch advocate for Obamacare and I don’t disagree with anything Colbert Busch said above. President Obama has repeatedly stated that implementing Obamacare is only the beginning, and advocates for healthcare reform wholeheartedly agree.

Colbert Busch’s comment during the debate wasn’t anti-Obamacare or anti-Democrat. It was centrist. And that may not be a bad thing, especially for a Democrat running in a traditionally Republican district.

So let’s not do what the opposition does and take a single quote out of its larger context. Let’s look at Colbert Busch’s entire platform and what she hopes to do in representing her district — whose interests and wishes she has clearly stated she’d put first.

Most important, let’s not risk giving up a seat in Congress because Democrats didn’t get behind a candidate over a single comment. I hope voters in South Carolina will do their homework and decide who will represent them based on all the facts, not just convenient sound bites.

I personally think it’s no contest. So I say: May the best woman win.

[Public domain photo credit: Chuck Kennedy | White House]