Dems Defend Health Votes; GOP Hoping For Repeat Of 1994 Elections
Congressional Republicans are hoping Democrats suffer the same fate in 2010 as they did after President Clinton's failed health reform bid in 1994, The New York Times reports. "That fall, Republicans swept to power, capturing nine seats in the Senate and 52 in the House. In many ways, the 1994 election has become the template both Republicans and Democrats are looking to as they set their strategies for the fall Congressional elections. Democratic campaign operatives, who are girding for big losses, began meeting quietly with party strategists involved in the 1994 contests last summer, looking for lessons on how to avoid another rout."
While that year's events seem "an imprecise way" to predict what will happen this time, "Republican voters appear highly energized by the health care bill, and that kind of voter interest typically results in significant turnout in a midterm election" (Nagourney and Connelly, 4/11).
CQ Politics: "A [Republican] senior Senate aide said the health care law was the largest example of a government takeover that has been adopted by the Obama administration but said it would not be the only issue used to illustrate the GOP message of 'government gone wild.' The health care law 'will be one more element to the big-picture message,' the aide said. 'The stimulus is like health care in that it is another example of what [Americans] don't like'" (Kucinich, 4/12).
The Associated Press/Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette: In a speech before the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence "said House Republicans would stay focused on trying to dismantle the health care law enacted last month. 'I know Democrats think that is over,' he said. 'Democrats may have had their say on the third Sunday in March, but the American people will have their say on the first Tuesday of November. House Republicans will not rest until we repeal the government takeover of health care lock, stock and barrel'" (Smith, 4/9).
The Los Angeles Times reports that Democrats defended their health reform votes while in their districts, though they return to Washington today. "With Congress in recess, members trooped home over the last two weeks to discuss what, for many, could be the most consequential vote of their careers. They explained, defended and sometimes distorted the content of the mammoth bill, now federal law, and what it means for their eager, anxious and often just plain confused constituents. One thing these lawmakers share is a conviction they were right, whatever happens politically. 'There is no greater net positive than believing in what you did,' (Calif. Republican Rep. Mary) Bono Mack said." She voted against the bill (Fiore, Baum and Barabak, 4/12).
Los Angeles Times, in a separate story: "The fierce healthcare fight appears to have drained the desire to tackle politically bruising issues such as global warming this year [b]efore the Senate takes up financial regulation, Democratic leaders - who no longer have a filibuster-proof majority - will try to break an impasse over legislation to extend unemployment benefits that stalled on the eve of Congress' spring recess. Republicans had blocked the bill, arguing that the $9-billion cost of the one-month extension of benefits - which lapsed for some 212,000 people after March 31 - should be offset by other spending cuts to avoid raising the deficit" (Hook, 4/12).
Today's KHN Morning Edition offers more news coverage of the legislative impasse surrounding COBRA and unemployment benefits.
The Wall Street Journal asks: "In Congress, tough votes have real consequences, as Rep. Bart Stupak has just reminded us. The question is: Which other lawmakers also have to worry about that harsh reality?" The Journal's answer includes Reps. Betsy Markey, of Colorado, and Ann Kirkpatrick, of Arizona; both are freshmen (4/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.