News / USA

Stakes High in US Health Care Battle

Multimedia

Audio

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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs