Losers in a brutal struggle with President Barack Obama, Republicans now hope voter anger over newly enacted health care legislation will propel them to victory in midterm elections this fall. As the Italians are custom to saying, and I'll say in this Post:
"Forget about it."
No matter the impact of health care, the economy still matters most — unemployment in particular — in a country struggling to emerge from the deepest recession in decades.
In poll after poll, it isn't even close.
A CBS/New York Times poll taken last month, when the health care debate was in a lull, showed 52 percent of those surveyed identified the economy as their top priority. Health care was a distant second at 13 percent.
The gap closed somewhat this month as Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress put more of a focus on the legislation, but not by enough to upend the public's order of priorities. A CNN/Opinion research survey in mid-March showed the economy was the top issue, at 43 percent of those polled, with health care at 23 percent.
"There is still one number that matters most on Election Day, and that is the unemployment number," said David Winston, a Republican pollster. "If unemployment is where it is now (9.7 percent nationally), people are going to be very unhappy and looking for a change. Now my question the the Dems is quite simple---will you allow the "NO" strategy Republicans to drag this most urgent issue of the economy and job creation out, much like they did for Health Care Reform, or will you stand up for the American People early on this time and say "NO" to the devisive GOP's political postering strategy of "NO, NO, NO to every conceavable legislative issue before them?
The Republican pollster went on to observe this very real hypothetical: "If it were to get to 8 percent, that would get a different result," he added. I tend to agree. So, what will you do differently this time around Dems? It would appear to me that the Health Care Reform delay tactics instituted by the Rebublican Party, and the stunning loss of the Senate seat which Massachusetts' Sen. Edward M. Kennedy held for nearly a half-century, did, however awake the sleeping giant; the Democratic Party. This is particuarly so whereas over the Weekend President Barrack Obama pushed against Republican stall tactics and filled 15 Appointments that've been held hostage for over seven months by this same GOP. Way to go!
For all the recent focus on health care, this is hardly news to Obama, his aides or other Democrats who anxiously scan economic statistics for signs of job growth that have yet to materialize.
"Starting hopefully in early April, you're going to see job growth, not job negative," said Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the head of the Democratic senatorial campaign effort.
It's a Democratic hope that has only grown stronger since January, when Republicans captured the Senate seat that Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy had held for nearly a half-century.
‘Where are the jobs?’
Underscoring their eagerness to switch issues, a few House Democrats held a news conference before Congress began its vacation at week's end to say they were looking forward to working on economic concerns when they returned.
It's also likely that both parties will try to connect the economy and health care in the minds of the voters heading into the fall campaign. Albeit, a word of warning to the Republican base and Legislators--the American people can see clearly now since the dust has settled. Be very careful in any further stall tactic on issue dear to the people. It will be remebered come the Election. Nominally speaking, the GOP and so-called Tea Party's political antics failed miserably, and to continue the same will be nothing but utter destruction to the entire party. The American people view such manuevering as nothing less than "obstructionist" in the highest form and such egregious behavior will not go un-punished.
"Americans are asking, 'Where are the jobs?' but Democrats remain focused on this job-killing government takeover of health care," House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio said as Obama's allies were pushing their legislation through Congress. Boehner's question posed "where are the jobs" are well placed. But seeing that the Republicans have vowed to say "NO" to any issue evinced by President Obama and the Democratic Party, it is axiomatic that they are the allies and advocate of "job-killing governement," not the other way around.
Democrats emphasized a Congressional Budget Office estimate that the legislation could cut red ink.
"This is ... one of the biggest deficit reduction measures in history — over $1.3 trillion (over 20 years) that will help put us on the path of fiscal responsibility," Obama told House Democrats days before they passed the measure. If for no other reason (though there are many, far and between) one would at the very least thought that the Republicans would have supported this measure for deficit reduction. Why? Because the last time I checked this is the same Party that have taunted "fiscal responsibility" in every past Election I can remember."
This is not to say that the steadfastly partisan struggle over health care won't matter in the fall, when control of Congress will be at stake. For indeed it will. The question is who will be on the right side of History--the REPEALERS or the REFORMERS? I tend to place my money on the latter.
Within hours of the legislation's passage, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said his party would campaign to "repeal and replace" Obama's prized accomplishment. And as we are all aware, the Republicans have kept their obstructionist promise. But to what avail?
GOP’s target groups
The first half of that pledge is a Republican fantasy as long as Obama is in the White House, as GOP leaders surely understand. Coming up with an alternative that his party can unify behind in the fall may or may not prove possible, or even politically desirable.
But no matter.
In political terms, the new mantra seems designed to appeal to two GOP target groups:
the anti-government tea party activists, who staged sometimes unruly demonstrations outside the Capitol a week ago and want simply to rip out the new law before it can take root.
swing voters who want improvements made to the existing health care system, but fear that the president and Democrats went too far.
Democrats argue — that lagging support for the health care legislation is the result of months of Republican distortions as far back as last summer's debunked charges that "death panels" would decide the fate of elderly Medicare recipients.
Now Democrats hope they can argue successfully that they can govern effectively, and they are promoting a series of highly popular changes that will take effect in the next six months. To this wise, I believe they are correct, and could very easily demonstrate the same so long as they 1) tackle economic concerns with positive results and stay vigilant as a Unified Party. Yes, this is doable. Just listen to the American People, not the Republican Party and they are destined to come out on top.
Small businesses will be eligible for tax credits to help them cover the cost of insurance for employees, Obama said in Iowa a few days ago, and older people with high drug costs will receive a $250 rebate from the government.
"This year, insurance companies will no longer be able to drop people's coverage when they get sick, or place lifetime limits or restrictive annual limits on the amount of care they can receive," the president added.
"This is the reform that some folks in Washington are still hollering about. And now that it's passed, they're already promising to repeal it. ... Well, I say go for it."
As noted previously, Republicans indeed appear determined to go for it.
But come the fall, they'll no doubt remember that the economy comes first. So to the American People---Republicans, Democrats and Independants---don't fall for the bamboozlement.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Here's the question of the day. Who do you think will come out on top come the fall's Election, Dems or GOP?