The Note: Repeal, Then What?

Jan 19, 2011 9:15am


Republicans in the House of Representatives are set to vote today to repeal the Obama Administration-backed health care reform law, an effort that, for the time being, is likely to be largely symbolic.

While repeal of health care reform has the votes to pass in the House, it’s a different story in the Senate and, regardless, President Obama has promised to veto if it ever reached his desk.

But Republicans have this on their side: A new ABC News/Washington Post poll out this week showed that 46 percent of Americans think the law is likely to cut jobs, 54 percent think it's likely to hurt the economy, and 62 percent see it as increasing rather than decreasing the federal deficit.

Democratic leaders and advocacy groups have been pushing back hard against the Republican move to jettison the new law. President Obama weighed in with a statement touting the law’s benefits yesterday.

“I’m willing and eager to work with both Democrats and Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act,” Obama said. “But we can’t go backward.”

This morning Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid argued that the GOP’s plan would “raise prescription drug prices for seniors and let insurance companies go back to denying coverage to sick children.”

“This is nothing more than partisan grandstanding at a time when we should be working together to create jobs and strengthen the middle class,” Reid said in a statement.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, told the Note that Reid was flat out wrong.

“Sen. Reid is channeling Lewis Carroll,” Steel said. “Repealing this job-destroying bill will help small businesses, lower prescription drug prices — which are rising as a result of Washington Democrats’ backroom deal with drug companies — and allow us to put in place protections for pre-existing conditions that will actually work.”

But in a sign of how divided Americans over the issue, the same ABC News/Washington Post poll also found that fewer than four in 10 Americans — 37 percent — favor repealing all or parts of the law. The rest either support it, or want to wait and see. Just 18 percent favor repealing it altogether.

During yesterday’s debate on repeal, Republicans disputed a Congressional Budget Office estimate that found axing the health care law would hike the deficit by $230 billion. As the Hill Pete Kasperowicz   noted, “the budget battle will likely persist as House Republicans seek to make changes to the healthcare law later in the year, and is expected to complicate attempts to find agreement between the two parties on possible changes to existing law.”

MISSING FROM HEALTH CARE DEBATE: ‘JOB KILLING’: “During his Pen & Pad briefing on Jan. 4, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the phrase ‘job killing’ eight times over the course of the briefing,” ABC’s John R. Parkinson reports. “Cantor, R-Virginia, used the term earlier this month to describe everything from ‘cutting the job killing regulations,’ and ‘a job killing health care bill that spends money we don't have,’ to the Obama Administration’s ‘job killing agenda.’ While there is no evidence of a connection between gunman Jared Loughner’s motive and the political discourse in Washington, the Tragedy in Tucson has ushered in a heightened level of scrutiny to analyze the rhetoric of lawmakers. Yesterday, in his first Pen & Pad briefing since the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson, Ariz., Cantor did not utter the phrase ‘job killing’ a single time.

‘Whether it’s job-killing, job-destroying, job-crushing, job-ending, job-eliminating, job-preventing, job-limiting, job-hurting, job-excising, job-removing, job-exterminating, or job-doingawaywith – the point is clear. Too many Americans remain out of work because of laws like ObamaCare and other pursuits that create uncertainty and discourage employers from hiring,” said Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring.”

THE RETIREES. “Senator Joe Lieberman called Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday to tell him he is not running for re-election in 2012. That's actually good news for Democrats. Although the Independent Lieberman is a member of the Democratic caucus, his decision to retire makes it easier for Democrats to hang on to his Connecticut Senate seat,” ABC News’ Jonathan Karl reports.”The day's other retirement, however, is terrible news for Democrats. Senator Kent Conrad D-N.D. would have faced a tough re-election campaign, but he would have been, by far, the best chance for Democrats to hang on to the seat. North Dakota is a solidly Republican state that went for John McCain in 2008 and last year elected Republican John Hoeven to the Senate with 76 percent of the vote.”

Who’s next? Karl looks at other potential retirees in the Senate:

A NOTE ON RETIREMENT PLANNING IN CONGRESS. From ABC News Political Director Amy Walter: By this point in 2009, four Republican senators had already announced their retirements: George Voinovich (OH), Kit Bond (MO), Mel Martinez (FL) and Sam Brownback (KS). Beltway prognosticators (me included) expected Democrats to be competitive in all but Kansas. And given that Obama had carried Ohio and Florida and just barely lost Missouri, the thinking was that Democrats would pick up at least one if not two of these seats in 2012. In the end, of course, Republicans not only held all four seats, but they didn’t lose any of their open seats. They did, however, pick up two seats where there were unexpected Democratic retirements — Indiana and North Dakota.

How the rapidly changing Senate landscape favors GOP in 2012, according to analysts. ABC’s Matthew Jaffe reports:


HILLARY CLINTON ON CHENEY. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that Dick Cheney should not worry about President Obama’s “absolute commitment” to fighting terrorism: “I was certainly taken aback by it. I don't know how anyone who was in the White House, before or now, could doubt any president's absolute commitment to stopping the terrorists from attacking us,” Clinton said. More from George’s interview with Clinton on his blog:


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: ABC’s Rick Klein and Jonathan Karl will speak with Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., about the aftermath of the shooting as well as the GOP agenda on Capitol Hill. Also in the “Top Line” studios today: The National Journal’s Reid Wilson. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.


Remembering Sargent Shriver: The first Peace Corps director leaves behind a legacy of social advocacy. WATCH: ABC News obit:



AFL-CIO’S TRUMKA ON POLITICAL CLIMATE. Richard Trumka is speaking this morning at the National Press Club in Washington. According to an excerpt of his remarks prepared for delivery, he is expected to say: “Here in Washington, we live in an Alice-in-Wonderland political climate.  We have a jobs crisis that after three years is still raging, squeezing families, devastating our poorest communities and stunting the futures of young adults. Yet politicians of both parties tell us that we can — and should — do nothing.”

STATE VISIT. A full day of events at the White House surrounding the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao. The two presidents will hold a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, afterward they will hold an expanded bilateral meeting with President Hu and the Official U.S. and Official Chinese Delegations in the Cabinet Room. In the afternoon, the president will host a meeting with President Hu and business leaders from the U.S. and China in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Later in the afternoon, the two leaders — Mr. Obama and Hu — will speak to press in the East Room of the White House, holding a joint press conference. In the evening, the Obamas will welcome back President Hu for a formal state dinner at the White House. (h/t ABC News’ Sunlen Miller)

NOTED: ABC News’ Jake Tapper reports: “Obama administration sources tell ABC News that President Obama later today announced an agreement between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China to establish a “Center of Excellence” in China to promote effective nuclear security and safeguards. The Center of Excellence, to be jointly financed, will be a place where technical information can be shared, training courses can be offered, and collaborations can be promoted to ‘enhance nuclear security in China and throughout Asia,’ the White House says.”

WHO WINS THE REDISTRICTING GAME? Both Democrats and Republicans have sought to claim victory when it comes how the re-drawing of district lines benefits their party. In a column for Roll Call, Stu Rothenberg takes a look at both arguments: “My own state-by-state assessment suggests redistricting alone won’t net many more seats for the GOP than the party now has — a conclusion that seems to support [DCCC Chairman Steve] Israel. Republicans will create more GOP districts or benefit from fewer Democratic districts in North Carolina, Massachusetts and South Carolina, while Democrats should add seats or benefit from GOP losses in Illinois, Louisiana and Washington state. There will be partisan implications in other states, as well, of course. But even though Republicans aren’t likely to add 15 to 20 new seats to their existing majority, redistricting across the country could well make it considerably more difficult for Democrats to reverse the results of the 2010 elections in 2012.”



@nationaljournal: With GOP Repeal Effort, Democrats See Chance for a Do-Over on Health Care

@pwire: Michael Steele: "I know exactly how Caesar felt."

@kendramarr: Pun overloaded and it's only 9 am — Hu is in charge … Hu's on first … Guess Hu's coming to dinner …

@waltershapiroPD: For this kid glued to the TV for the 1960 JFK Convention, Sarge Shriver's death means that the adults are now gone.

@jaketapper: 7 years ago today: Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., won the Iowa caucus. (cue overplayed Dean scream.)

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