Steele on Senate Dems: ‘They Can’t Pass the Bill’

Dec 14, 2009 4:22pm

ABC News’ Teddy Davis reports: Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele said Monday that President Obama’s health-care overhaul is struggling to get through the United States Senate because of opposition from his fellow Democrats. “While Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid talk about the Republicans stalling, as I’ve said repeatedly, ‘You have the votes, pass the bill,’” said RNC chairman Michael Steele. “But there seems to be a problem with that: they can’t pass the bill. “And the fact that with a 60-40 advantage in the Senate you are looking to Republicans to blame, or to provide you with the vote you need, tells me that there is something desperately wrong with the bill when you can’t get your own people to vote for it.” Steele’s remarks, which were made during an afternoon press conference at RNC headquarters on Capitol Hill, came as Democrats were still grappling with Sen. Joe Lieberman’s, I-Conn., weekend announcement that he won’t be able to support giving Americans 55 or older the right to buy into Medicare, the program which is currently limited to Americans 65 and older. Lieberman’s rejection of a compromise worked out by liberal and moderate Democratic senators cast new doubt on whether the president’s party in the Senate will be able to unify its disparate factions around a single health-care plan. The purpose of Steele’s press conference was to announce that the RNC is launching a “Listen to Me” campaign which includes a six-figure nationwide radio ad and the deployment of RNC staffers to six states which are home to moderate Democratic senators. The targeted Democrats are Sens. Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Jim Webb and Mark Warner of Virginia, Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. The RNC is hoping that the political, press, and coalition operatives that it deploys can generate local pressure which will persuade these moderate Democrats to buck their own party and deny President Obama his chief domestic priority. “Those town halls were about something. Folks coming to Washington on Sept. 12 was about something,” said Steele, referring to the Glenn Beck-promoted TEA Party which was held on the national mall earlier this year. “They want their leadership to listen to them.” In addition to launching the “Listen to Me” campaign, Steele pointed to the Obama administration’s recent emphasis on bureaucratic improvisation to argue that the RNC was right to use the word “experiment” to describe the president’s health-care plan. The small-scale experiments contained in Obama’s health-care plan were discussed favorably in last week’s issue of the New Yorker magazine before coming under criticism in a Monday editorial which ran in The Wall Street Journal. “When you have Peter Orszag, the president’s budget director, admitting, ‘we don’t know enough to produce results right away’ with respect to this health-care bill. ‘The key is to encourage continuous improvement through pilot programs and demonstration projects. Cost containment will actually take years to decades to address,’” said Steele. “Now, I labeled this from the very beginning as an experiment, if that doesn’t sound like an experiment, I don’t know what does,” said Steele, referring to Orszag’s recent remarks. “The real story is not just about Left Wing ideology or some Frankensten-ish experiment on a health-care system,” Steele continued. “The real story is about a party consumed by their own monopoly on power here in town.”

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