By MICHAEL FALCONE and AMY WALTER
Although there’s zero chance that the Senate will pass — or the president will sign — the Republicans’ proposed repeal of health care reform legislation into law, that doesn’t mean it’s an inconsequential vote.
As our own ABC News/Washington Post poll showed in December, opposition to health care reform outstripped support by a 52 percent to 43 percent margin. However opponents of the law are divided on the question of what to do about it: 30 percent would repeal parts of the law, while about as many, 29 percent, favor repealing all of it. http://abcn.ws/fzBDCX
For Democrats, of course, the hope is that by 2012 certain provisions of the law — like a ban on pre-existing conditions — will be popular enough that this vote to repeal them will be strikingly unpopular.
The advantage for incoming House Speaker John Boehner: he gets to reward his Tea Party base with an early and decisive vote. And, unlike Democrats who saw the issue of health care drag on for months, Boehner can now pivot his party’s focus on the issues that voters are the most concerned about: jobs and the economy
“Obamacare is a job killer for businesses small and large, and the top priority for House Republicans is going to be to cut spending and grow the economy and jobs,” said Brad Dayspring, spokesman for incoming Majority Leader Eric Cantor. “ObamaCare failed to lower costs as the President promised that it would and does not allow people to keep the care they currently have if they like it. That is why the House will repeal it next week.”
Democrats have been quick to push back. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is blasting out “Hypocrisy Alerts” in the districts of freshmen lawmakers who have not yet said if they will accept Congressional health care.
From the DCCC’s memo: “House Republican candidates affiliated with the Tea Party ran strongly against ‘government health care.’ … Despite their campaign rhetoric and public opinion, most incoming Republican Freshman will not say whether they will accept government health care. Their silence can only mean one thing: Republican Freshman will hypocritically take government funded health care even though they ran campaigns against it.”
BOTTOM LINE: Republicans posted the text of the bill last night, allowing them to have their first procedural vote on health care repeal on Friday (remember their pledge to post all bills for 72 hours before voting on them.) Vote on the repeal bill itself will follow on Wednesday January 12. (Read the bill here: http://bit.ly/gRHOIv)
ABC’s Jonathan Karl reports for “World News” http://abcn.ws/eKid8v and “Good Morning America” on how new members of Congress are preparing to flex their political muscle and on GOP efforts to repeal the health care law. http://abcn.ws/euZjli
THE FRESHMEN. ABC News’ Diane Sawyer will sit down with ten members of the largest class of Republican freshman in 80 years this week for an interview set to air January 5 on a special edition of “World News. Sawyer will talk to freshmen Representatives and Senators about their vision for the country and how they plan to follow through on the promises that brought them to Washington.
Members participating include: Sen. Rand Paul (KY), Sen. Michael Lee (UT), Rep. Mo Brooks (AL-05), Rep. Paul Gosar (AZ-01), Rep. Michael Grimm (NY-13), Rep. Frank Guinta (NH-01), Rep. Vicky Hartzler (MO-04), Rep. Tim Huelskamp (KS-01), Rep. Marlin Stutzman (IN-03), Rep. Scott Tipton (CO-03). An extended version of the interview will be posted on ABCNews.com.
BEHIND THE SCENES. ABC News partnered with a handful of incoming members, Republicans and Democrats, to document their journeys to Capitol Hill and the emotional moments along the way. Here’s a behind-the-scenes glimpse at Rep.-Elect Frank Guinta of New Hampshire, who is among the youngest newcomers to Congress, Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, Rep.-Elect Paul Gosar of Arizona, Rep.-Elect Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington State, and (“pizza guy”) Rep.-Elect Bobby Schilling of Ilinois. (h/t ABC’s Devin Dwyer, Gregory Simmons and John Parkinson.) http://abcn.ws/eWmsLH
WHITE HOUSE SHAKEUP? A senior White House official tells ABC News that President Obama has spoken with former Clinton Commerce Secretary Bill Daley about possibly coming here to be the new White House chief of staff, our Jake Tapper reports. Tapper notes that the president still needs to talk to the interim chief of staff, senior adviser Pete Rouse, about his plans as well as press secretary Robert Gibbs. But the first order of business may be picking a new director of the National Economic Council: Treasury official Gene Sperling may have the edge over investment banker Roger Altman. http://abcn.ws/gWpb69
ON THE ISSUES: More intel from Tapper on the White House issue agenda: Expect to hear more from the president on a competitiveness agenda. You will also seen aggressive outreach to incoming Speaker John Boehner on education reform. Boehner helped write the No Child Left Behind law, but the president will push back against House Republican efforts to repeal the law.
President Obama said he hopes Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell “will realize that there will be plenty of time to campaign for 2012 in 2012,” according to a pool report of the president’s remarks to the press aboard Air Force One last night. Obama said he expects Republicans to “to play to their base for a certain period of time,” but hopes to build on lame-duck success to build the economy and create jobs, Politico’s Carol E. Lee reports.
LAST DAY IN PARADISE. “The Obama family had a full last day in Hawaii after nearly a two week vacation,” ABC News’ Yunji de Nies and Sunlen Miller report. “On Monday, the family hit the gym, the beach, got shave ice, visited the President’s grandfather’s grave, visited the zoo, and dined out. ‘Ready to go home yet, Mr. President?’ a reporter in the pool shouted. After the president was asked a second time, one of the kids in the group yelled, ‘No!’” The First Family is expected to land at Andrews Air Force Base after 10 a.m. this morning. http://abcn.ws/i0aSud
THE ‘MIGHTY NINE.’ They call themselves ‘the Mighty Nine.’ Which is half true – there are, in fact, nine of them,” The Washington Post’s David A. Fahrenthold notes. “But “’mighty’ is definitely the wrong word for the nine lonely Democrats who will be sworn in as House members on Wednesday. They defied last fall’s Republican landslide – winning mainly in strong Democratic districts – to become the smallest freshman class either party has put forth since at least 1915. They include former statehouse leaders, a lieutenant governor, a big-city mayor. Now, at the high point of their careers, they must adjust to life as Capitol Hill’s lowest of the low.” http://wapo.st/hSOe9z
@chucktodd: Issa seems be second only to Boehner among House GOPers right now in nabbing headlines.
BITTNER MOVING ON: Senator Joe Manchin has named former DGA spokeswoman Emily Bittner as his DC-based communications director, according to an announcement from his office. “Emily is uniquely qualified for this work: She grew up in West Virginia, she is sharp, hard-working, and she understands how to communicate a commonsense approach to government,” Senator Manchin said. “I have deep respect for Senator Manchin’s commitment to the people of West Virginia and our country,” Bittner said. “It’s a true privilege to help him serve the people of a state that I called home for so long.”
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