WOULD REPUBLICANS FORGO THEIR OWN HEATH CARE BENEFITS?…. Rep.-elect Andy Harris (R-Md.) caused a bit of a stir last week. The conservative incoming freshman, after running on a platform opposed to health care reform, declared that he wanted his taxpayer subsidized coverage — and he wanted it immediately.

It’s never received a whole lot of attention, but members of Congress enjoy an attractive benefits package, including extensive options and taxpayer-subsidized insurance. In light of the Harris flap, a growing number of Democrats are asking a reasonable question: why don’t anti-health care Republicans put their coverage where their mouths are?

Congressional Republicans who assailed the Democrats’ healthcare law in the run-up to the midterm elections are facing pressure to decline government-provided coverage when they take office. […]

On Tuesday, Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to GOP leaders signed by 60 Democrats arguing that critics of a government-backed coverage expansion should “walk that walk” and also refuse their federally subsidized coverage.

“If your conference wants to deny millions of Americans affordable health care, your members should walk that walk,” Crowley wrote in a letter to Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “You cannot enroll in the very kind of coverage that you want for yourselves, and then turn around and deny it to Americans who don’t happen to be Members of Congress.”

Outside groups are getting in on the act. The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), a union that is among the biggest financial backers of Democrats, on Tuesday released a statement calling on lawmakers who campaigned on repeal to put their money where their mouths are.

“If they enroll in the taxpayer-funded healthcare system provided to members of Congress, they deserve to be denounced as hypocrites,” AFSCME President Gerald McEntee said. “If you campaigned for repeal, you should go without taxpayer-funded coverage first.”

A handful of incoming House Republicans have accepted the challenge and vowed to refuse congressional health care benefits, but this, in turn, only increases the pressure on the rest of the caucus.

Making matters slightly worse for the GOP, a new survey from Public Policy Polling found a majority of respondents believe Republicans who ran against health care reform should, as a sign of consistency, refuse government coverage. The sentiment was especially strong among Republicans.

The GOP leadership has already said this is a non-starter, and that members will not be asked or expected to give up coverage for them and their families, but it’s a safe bet the outline of 2012 attack ads are already coming together.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.