White House Plans to Assail As ‘Politics’ Another GOP Senator’s Remarks About Health Care Reform Fight

By Lee Speigel

Jul 23, 2009 9:18pm

White House officials say that they have been given more ammunition from yet another Republican senator to make the point that much of the opposition against President Obama's health care reform push is political, about power and not principle.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., this week talked with two talk radio hosts about President Obama's health care reform push as a way for the Republicans to win back seats in the House and Senate, as happened in the 1994 Republican Revolution after former President Bill Clinton's health care reform efforts.

Earlier this week, President Obama seized upon remarks made by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, about opposing the administration's health care reform efforts.

"If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo, it will break him and we will show that we can along with the American people, begin to push those freedom solutions that work in every area of our society," DeMint said on a conference call last week.

"Just the other day," the president said this week, "one Republican senator said — and I'm quoting him now — 'If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo.  It will break him.'"

Continued the president: "Think about that.  This isn't about me.  This isn't about politics.  This is about a health care system that is breaking America's families, breaking America's businesses, and breaking America's economy."

The president continued to make that point, using DeMint's comments, in his prime time presidential press conference, in interviews, and in an email through his political committee to raise funds and rally the Democratic troops.

Asked for a response via twitter, DeMint tweeted to me "The President attacks me and even Democrat critics of his healthcare takeover because his plan can't pass on the merits."

Whether or not President Obama will personally mention Inhofe's remarks is as of now unclear, but other White House officials surely will, sources say.

Inhofe told conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt that "as long as people keep talking the way they are right now, we’re going to defeat" health care reform in the Senate.

Democrats "only have 34 votes," Inhofe said, "They need 60 votes. I’d say health care right now is somewhere in the neighborhood of, they have maybe 45 votes. But every day, they lose votes, 'cause people find out what it is, what it’s going to do, and what it’s not going to do. When you tell people that the mortality rate in Canada is 25% higher for breast cancer, 18% higher for prostate cancer, you know, they say 'Why in the world would we emulate a system like that?' This is life threatening. And so we have all the issues on our side on this thing, and I think, you know, I just hope the President keeps talking about it, keeps trying to rush it through, we can stall it. And that’s going to be a huge gain for those of us who want to turn this thing over in the 2010 elections."

Inhofe said if President Obama failed to get a Senate vote before the August recess, "I would say there’s no way in the world they’re going to get this done this year. And next year would not be any easier. But I just, frankly, for political reasons, I kind of like the idea of keeping this thing alive. Look what it did for us in 1994."

Inhofe also told talk radio host Janet Parshall that "we went through this thing in 1993 with Hillary health care and surely he should remember that and that started the demise of Bill Clinton that led to the 1994 Republican takeover of the House and the Senate. Well, surely Obama is watching that and realizing that the popularity — or unpopularity — of his socialized medicine exceeds where Hillary health care was in 1993."

Continued Inhofe, "they ought to know, they ought to know from history that this is a losing proposition for them. And for those out there who believe, that would like to have something optimistic to look at, we are plotting the demise on a, on a week by week basis of where Bill Clinton was in 1993 and where Obama is today and his demise, his demise ratio is greater than Clinton’s was in 1993."

Inhofe said the GOP had been given "so many things to use" politically against the Obama administration, including health care, cap and trade, and the administration's plans for detainees.

The Inhofe comments were originally noted by the liberal group ThinkProgress.

Some Republicans distanced themselves from DeMint's comments, including Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., who said on a conference call that he "didn’t like particularly the way that Sen. DeMint said it…I think he was way off-base in his attack on the president."

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, told Politico of DeMint's comments, "I don’t think that’s a good way to look at it. We are certainly at a crossroads for health care reform, but the reason that we are is that there’s a real sense of hesitancy by the American people to buy into what’s been proferred by the White House and Speaker Pelosi."

- jpt

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus