Governor Don Carcieri has joined Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a likely 2012 presidential candidate, in a legal challenge to the cost of President Obama's health care law. This marks Carcieri's second major foray into national health reform politics - readers will recall that, in May, he pressed Attorney General Patrick Lynch to join in a 20-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the reform. Lynch, a Democrat, refused.
The GOP challenge to health reform promises to be a defining issue in the next couple of years. Republicans clearly see a winner in the press to upend the unpopular law. But the GOP, catering in part to the Tea Party set that helped propel it to victory this fall, will have to be careful. Polling suggests the broader public, however wary of the law, is also less-than-enthusiastic about a repeal.
Indeed, it will be interesting to see whether the GOP's push manages to do what the Democrats could not during the divisive debate over health reform's passage - focus attention on the details of reform, which actually poll quite well, rather than a broader discussion over whether we are embarking on a big, scary "government takeover" of health care.