GOP assaults health care reform on anniversary of bill signing

12:03 PM, Mar 23, 2011   |    comments
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One year after President Obama's landmark health care reforms became law, Republicans are standing in opposition to the changes as ferociously as ever.

GOP leaders, in addition to enthusiastic freshmen Republicans swept into office on a wave of health care opposition, are promising to continue to pull the reforms apart. But the larger message from Republican leaders is clear: Vote for us again in 2012, and we'll be sure to get the job done and repeal it once and for all.

House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell published an op-ed in the Cincinnati Enquirer today charging that Democrats broke their promises with respect to health care.

The op-ed recalls former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's now-infamous quote, "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy." A year later, Boehner and McConnell write, there are "many harmful unintended consequences Americans are stuck with now that 'fog of controversy' has lifted." They tear the bill apart over what they say is its impact on health care costs, the burden it places on businesses and the changes it will force some to make to their health care plans.

Boehner made the same criticisms in a video released yesterday in which he says, "If there's a constant in the story of ObamaCare, it's broken promises."

For all of the law's shortcomings, "a more fundamental promise was broken when this government takeover of health care was pushed through," Boehner said. "That day, that week, the people said one thing, and their government did another."

The speaker highlighted the GOP-led House vote to repeal the health care plan and promised more votes and hearings in the coming weeks to "take this law apart, step by step."

McConnell released his own video in which he said, "Republicans in Congress heard you," though he ignores the fact that attempts to peel back the law have been obstructed in the Senate, where Democrats are still in charge. "We need to keep making your voices heard as we fight to repeal this law and replace it with common sense reforms," he continued.

The implicit message is that Republicans need the majority in the Senate -- a goal within reach in 2012 -- as well as control of the White House in order to repeal the reforms. Potential GOP presidential contenders are backing up that message.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty released a statement today reminding voters that he joined a lawsuit calling the reform package unconstitutional. "If courts do not do so first, as President, I would support the immediate repeal of Obamacare and replace it with market-based health care reforms," he said, calling the law "one of the most flawed and misguided laws in modern history."

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, by contrast, acknowledged at the National Review Online that a full repeal "would take time," so he promised that if he were president, "on Day One I would issue an executive order paving the way for Obamacare waivers to all 50 states."

Romney's criticisms of the health care reform package have been undermined by the fact that the Obama administration said their reforms were inspired by the health reforms Romney implemented as governor.

Seemingly addressing that issue, Romney wrote, "As I have stated time and again, a one-size-fits-all national plan that raises taxes is simply not the answer. Under our federalist system, the states are 'laboratories of democracy.'"

Meanwhile, as the Republican National Committee builds up its organization in preparation for an intense 2012 election cycle, chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement, "Today is a reminder that we need to redouble our efforts over the next two years to retake the Senate and elect a Republican President so we can repeal this job-destroying law once and for all."

Republicans elected in 2010 are also making clear they heard their supporters loud and clear. New Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today calling the reforms "the greatest single assault on our freedom in my lifetime," and implying that his daughter may not have survived a serious medical problem had the health care reforms been in place earlier.

"I don't even want to think what might have happened if she had been born at a time and place where government defined the limits for most insurance policies and set precedents on what would be covered," he wrote.

Freshman Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina wrote at the website RedState today, "As ObamaCare is being repealed (and/or dismantled piece by piece), I will continue working with my colleagues in the House on common sense, patient-centered solutions to improve our healthcare system."

Stephanie Condon, CBS NEWS

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