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

Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurd President Urges World Community to Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid