Thursday, 06 January 2011

Democrats Plan Defense Against GOP Healthcare Repeal Effort

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Robert GibbsIn anticipation of a full-fledged GOP attack on Obama’s signature healthcare law, congressional Democrats are in the process of planning an “all fronts” defense of the new law as new House speaker John Boehner’s scheduled January 12 vote to repeal the measure approaches.

The New York Times reports,

Senior Democratic officials said their effort would be managed by a rapid response operation modeled after the ones Mr. Obama used in his presidential campaign. That team will monitor Republican claims, send out fact-checks and deploy a team of surrogates to get their views on television.

The “all fronts” plan will also launch paid television advertisements. Likewise, Organizing for America, President Obama’s political apparatus, is planning to host phone banks and schedule events wherein they will emphasize the alleged pitfalls of repealing the law.

Hari Sevugan, spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, explains:

We will make clear to the American people that as their first order of business, Republicans have decided not to focus on jobs and deficit reduction, but on re-litigating partisan battles — that, if successful, would eliminate help for our job-creating small businesses and explode the deficit.

According to liberals, the defense of ObamaCare has been long overdue. The New York Times writes:

The president and his allies on Capitol Hill were criticized by liberals for failing to defend the health care legislation during the campaign. Democratic candidates rarely mounted a fiery defense of the law on the campaign trail. And some even ran ads against the legislation, fearful that Republicans had succeeded in turning the public against it.

House Republicans announced this week that they have scheduled a vote to repeal the healthcare law for next week. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor vows that the House will see the passage of what has been dubbed “Repealing the Job Killing Health Care Act,” adding, “The American people are expecting quick action from the Republican majority.” Though most predict that a repeal would face staunch opposition in the Senate, Cantor asserts, “The important thing right now is to make sure we send a repeal bill across the floor.”

DNC spokesman Sevugan believes that a repeal effort places a bullseye directly on Boehner’s back. “We’re not talking about benefits which you may get down the road. We are talking about taking away benefits you enjoy right now — tangible benefits with value. This puts us on offense.”

Even prior to Boehner’s transition to the House Speaker position, Organizing for America pre-empted the attack and released a mass email to Obama’s supporters urging them to speak out against any repeal effort. The email said in part,

Organizing for America is pulling together a team of organizers and volunteers to defend reform — and we need you on this team. Together, we’ll show how our progress is already improving lives across the country — and take on those who are pushing for repeal.

In addition to Organizing for America’s efforts, three cabinet secretaries — Kathleen Sebelius of Health and Human Services, Hilda Solis of Labor, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner — sent a letter to Congress insisting that a repeal would be a regressive step which would risk setting “the nation back on a path to higher costs and skyrocketing premiums, less competition and fewer consumer protections.”

How Obama plans to handle the GOP repeal efforts is unknown, but White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs claimed that the GOP’s battle for repeal is just “a bit of huff and puff” symbolism. He added that a repeal would take Americans back “to a healthcare system where insurance companies are in charge and call the shots.”

According to Gibbs, “Obviously the president is focused very much on the economy and on the job situation right now. He’s remarkably proud of the accomplishment of health care. I don’t think that the American people want to go back to a health care system where those safety nets are in doubt, and that’s what the law is.”

The New York Times reports that the nation remains divided over the healthcare law, citing surveys conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post; however, as indicated by a January 2, 2011 Rasmussen Report poll, 60 percent of Americans favor repealing the law, with a mere 36 percent opposed to repeal.

Photo: Robert Gibbs

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