News / USA

Stakes High in US Health Care Battle

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

The U.S. Congress appears headed for a final battle over health-care reform legislation in the next several days, and the political stakes for President Barack Obama, his Democratic allies and opposition Republicans are enormous.

Click to Listen:

Download/Play Audio File


Health-care reform has been President Barack Obama's top domestic priority, and the president is making an energetic final push for support, including a recent visit to Ohio.

"I do not know about the politics, but I know what is the right thing to do," Obama said.  "And so I am calling on Congress to pass these reforms and I am going to sign them into law.  I want some courage!  I want us to do the right thing, Ohio, and with your help we are going to make it happen!"

Public support for the Democratic health-care plan has eroded during the past several months, and Mr. Obama must now rely on Democrats alone to get the legislation through Congress.

Political experts see passage of health care as a crucial political test for Mr. Obama in advance of congressional midterm elections in November.

Tom DeFrank is a veteran journalist and political analyst with the New York Daily News and a regular guest on VOA's 'Issues in the News' program.

"He has some sort of health care bill close to having enough Democratic votes to sign on, and he also understands that he has to show that he can lead, that he can govern, that he can get something done," DeFrank noted.  "He needs a new accomplishment and he needs to be able to say, I got health care.  So once again, he is raising the stakes."

Congressional Democrats also have a lot riding on passage of a health care bill.  Many liberal Democratic voters have become disillusioned with the compromises made in Congress, and they will be sorely disappointed if the health care effort fails.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to rally liberal and moderate Democrats in Congress to support this final attempt at passing health care.

"This legislation not only makes history, but it will make progress for America's working families," she said.

The stakes are also enormous for congressional Republicans.  Republicans were in disarray following the 2008 elections that produced a Democrat in the White House and a strengthening of Democratic control of both houses of Congress.

Republicans oppose the health care effort on principle, arguing that it represents too much government intervention in the health care system and will bankrupt the country with its high cost.

Republicans have seen their standing in the polls improve as their opposition to health care has intensified.

Indiana Republican Congressman Mike Pence spoke to a crowd outside the U.S. Capitol that had gathered to rally against the Democratic health-care bill.

"I say, Mr. President, Madame Speaker, the American people know what is in the bill.  We just do not want it!", he said.

Pence was cheered on not only by Republicans, but by grassroots conservatives and Libertarians who are supporters of the so-called Tea Party movement.

The anti-tax, anti-big government Tea Party movement takes inspiration from the anti-tax protesters just before the American Revolution who threw tea into Boston Harbor to protest British taxes.

Tea Party sympathizers oppose government interference in health care and in other areas of the economy, and they fear the Democratic-led Congress is spending too much and increasing the national debt.

Julie Heckman is a Tea Party supporter from Maryland who attended the rally against the Democrat's health-care bill.

"I feel so strongly that this country is headed, fiscally, in a horrible direction, and for the first time in my adult life, we have a Congress that will not listen to the people, and we are fed up and we want them to listen to us," she said.

The Tea Party movement is also drawing support from some political independents who say they are disappointed that President Obama has not pursued the kind of moderate, bipartisan agenda he talked about during the presidential campaign.

The combination of energized Republicans and Tea Party activists, plus disappointed independent voters spells big political trouble for Democrats trying to hold control of Congress in the November elections.

Larry Sabato directs the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

"In the House of Representatives, it is really a question of whether Obama's Democrats are going to lose 15 seats or 25 seats or the 40 seats necessary for the Republicans to take over," noted Sabato.

Republicans are hoping for a replay of the 1994 midterm elections, when they won control of both the House and Senate in large part because of public opposition to the health-care-reform plan put forward by another Democrat in the White House, Bill Clinton.

You May Like

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid