Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid released the following statement in response to Minority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Boehner comments on health care reform:
“It seems lately that the Party of ‘No’ has also become a party stuck in reverse. The American people have seen this tired Republican playbook at work before and have no patience for the same old politics as usual. Whether it’s Sen. DeMint’s comments about how to ‘break’ President Obama, Michael Steele telling us to ‘slow down’ with reform efforts or William Kristol telling Republicans to ‘go for the kill,’ Republicans are beginning to reveal their true agenda.
“Delay and deny isn’t a strategy for health care reform. American can’t afford those tactics. In 2007, our economy lost more than $200 billion as a result of poor health and the shorter lifespan of uninsured individuals. America can and must do better.
“Our committee chairs are working hard to craft a bill that reduces costs, supports small businesses, protects choice, promotes prevention and stops insurance companies from using pre-existing conditions as an excuse to deny coverage. Now that we are closer than ever to achieving health care reform, leaders in Congress must look beyond the partisanship to become partners in delivering reform for the American people.”
REPUBLICANS CONTINUE TO PLAY POLITICS ON HEALTH CARE
As millions of Americans suffer without health coverage, and millions more pay skyrocketing out-of-pocket costs, Republicans continue to play politics with health care. It’s time for Republicans to stop focusing on defeating health care reform and start working with Democrats to provide Americans with quality, affordable health care.
GOP LEADERS CONTINUE TO PUT POLITICS OVER POLICY
DeMint: Delay is the Way on Health Care. “’I can almost guarantee you this thing won’t pass before August, and if we can hold it back until we go home for a month’s break in August,’ members of Congress will hear from ‘outraged’ constituents, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint said on the call, which was organized by the group Conservatives for Patients Rights. ‘Senators and Congressmen will come back in September afraid to vote against the American people,’ DeMint predicted…” [Ben Smith, Politico, 7/17/09]
DeMint: Health Care is “D-Day for Freedom in America,” Will be Obama’s “Waterloo.” On a conference call, Senator Jim DeMint said, “This health care issue is D-Day for freedom in America. If we lose this, we’ll probably have half of our economy in some way controlled by the federal government. We can’t allow that to happen. And on the other side of it, if we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him. And we will show that we can – along with the American people – begin to push those freedom solutions that work in every area of our society.” [Ben Smith, Politico, 7/20/09, audio available here]
DeMint: Just Let the Health Care Markets Work. On the Senate floor, South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint urged the Senate to just let the health care market work: “We can give every American access to affordable health insurance plans if we get out of the way and allow the market to work.” [Congressional Record, 7/20/09]
Steele: Obama Health Care Plan is Socialism. “Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele today charged that President Barack Obama’s health care plan was akin to socialism and would dramatically hurt the U.S. economy. ‘Yes. Next question,’ Steele quipped when asked by if the president’s plan represents socialism today during a Q-and-A session following a speech on health care at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.” [Washington Wire, Wall Street Journal, 7/20/09]
Steele: Health Care Efforts Must “Slow Down.” In an appearance at the National Press Club, Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele urged President Obama and Congress to “slow down” the progress on health care. “’So slow down, Mr. President. We can’t afford to get health care wrong. Your experiment proposes too much, too soon, too fast. Your experiment with our health care could change everything we like about our health care, and our economy as well,’ he said.” [Washington Wire, Wall Street Journal, 7/20/09]
Kristol: “Go for the Kill.” Writing on the Weekly Standard blog William Kristol, one of the leaders of the conservative moment, had this advice for republicans: “With Obamacare on the ropes, there will be a temptation for opponents to let up on their criticism, and to try to appear constructive, or at least responsible. There will be a tendency to want to let the Democrats’ plans sink of their own weight, to emphasize that the critics have been pushing sound reform ideas all along and suggest it’s not too late for a bipartisan compromise over the next couple of weeks or months. My advice, for what it’s worth: Resist the temptation. This is no time to pull punches. Go for the kill.” [The Blog, Weekly Standard, 7/20/09]
RNC Consultant: If GOP Can Slow Health Care Down, “We Can Defeat It.” “’We need to bring new language to this debate,’ Republican message man Alex Castellanos wrote in a memo to fellow GOP strategists this month. ‘If we paint the house the same color, no one will notice anything has changed: We will still be the same, outdated Republicans who have no new ideas and oppose everything.’ Castellanos, a consultant to the Republican National Committee, offered poll-tested language that the party could use to kill President Obama’s health-care legislation in Congress. ‘If we slow this sausage-making process down, we can defeat it,’ he reasoned.” [Dana Milbank column, Washington Post, 7/21/09]
Repeat After Me: Steele Says Exactly What Consultants Tell Him to on Health Care. “RNC Chairman Michael Steele must have liked what he read. When he gave a speech at the National Press Club on Monday, he all but read aloud from Castellanos’s memo. ‘Slow down, Mr. President: We can’t afford to get health care wrong,’ said the memo. ‘Slow down, Mr. President: We can’t afford to get health care wrong,’ said the chairman. Memo: ‘The old, top-down Washington-centered system the Democrats propose will empower Washington to restrict the cures and treatments your doctor can prescribe for you.’ Steele: ‘The old top-down Washington-centered system the Democrats propose is designed to grow Washington’s power to restrict the cures and treatments your doctor can prescribe for you.’ Memo: ‘President Obama is experimenting with America, too much, too soon, and too fast.’ Steele: ‘The Barack Obama experiment with America is a risk our country can’t afford — it’s too much, too fast, too soon.’ In the back of the room sat the ventriloquist, admiring his work.” [Dana Milbank column, Washington Post, 7/21/09]
Steele: “Sticking to the Words” of the Consultant’s Script. “The chairman did better sticking to the words of Castellanos, who modestly described his role as that of a horse driven by Steele. ‘We are excited to join the growing number of Americans supporting the patient-centered health-care reform movement,’ said the memo, ‘with patients and doctors in control.’ ‘Republicans stand with the growing number of Americans supporting the patient-centered health-care reform movement,’ said the chairman, ‘with patients and doctors in control.’ ‘This is 20 percent of our economy,’ said the memo. ‘This is one-sixth of our economy,’ said the chairman. ‘If we screw this up, it could last for generations,’ said the memo. ‘If we screw this up, it could last a generation,’ said the chairman. ‘This should scare the living daylights out of all of us,’ said the memo. ‘All of us should be scared to death,’ said the chairman. As a voice-throwing act, Castellanos and Steele were quite a duo. But if Castellanos is the ventriloquist, what does that make Steele?” [Dana Milbank column, Washington Post, 7/21/09]
DeMint: Must Give “Freedom a Chance to Work in Health Care.” On the senate floor, Senator Jim DeMint said, “We need to go back to the basics, including some of what I have mentioned already, that would reform health care and make private health insurance work better, make it more affordable, and get it into the hands of more Americans. Why should we give up on freedom and move to a government plan when we haven’t even given freedom a chance to work in health care?” [Congressional Record, 7/20/09]