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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs