The Note: Health Care Reform Turns One, And Not Everyone Is Celebrating

Mar 23, 2011 8:44am


If paper is the traditional first anniversary gift, Republicans have come through in a big way for President Obama as they acknowledge the one-year mark of the country’s health care reform law today.

Starting from the top, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., penned an Op-Ed in the Cincinnati Enquirer today in which they ticked off a list of what they say are the Obama administration’s broken promises on health care.

“These broken promises” the lawmakers write, “illustrate why so many Americans continue to support a full repeal — which the new Republican-led House has passed — followed by common-sense reforms that will actually lower costs, improve care, and protect jobs.” The House Speaker also hit many of the same themes in a new Web video he released today:

“Today marks one year since Obamacare started hurting job creation,” freshman Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted this morning, “If we do not repeal and replace, the worst is yet to come.”

White House officials, of course, are just as eager to tout the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius will speak to the National Association of Community Health Centers in Washington, DC today — she has been traveling the country to talk about how reform has helped Americans.

And health care advocacy groups like Health Care for America Now will host events in 33 states to, as they say, “raise awareness of the law’s new consumer protections and benefits that are holding insurance companies accountable and lowering costs for millions of families.”

According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans ranked health care third in a list of problems they worry about “a great deal” — well behind fiscal issues. The economy ranked number one (71 percent), followed by federal spending and the budget deficit (64 percent) and then “availability and affordability” of health care (58 percent).

Even more interesting: Republicans don’t list health care among their top five concerns. Democrats, on the other hand, list health care as their number one issue (69 percent) while independents list it as their number three most important issue (58 percent).

And as we know, the battle over health care reform is not only taking place in the court of public opinion but in courts of law as well. As ABC News’ Arian DeVogue notes, three federal judges have upheld the law, and two federal judges have struck down its key provision, the individual mandate.  (One of them declared the whole law unconstitutional.) Legal experts predict that if, as expected, there is a split on the appellate court level, the Supreme Court is likely to get the case sometime next term with a decision around June of 2012.

So what will all of this mean as the presidential campaign season heats up? This election is still about the economy. That’s how the president will be judged. Both sides have to worry about trying to campaign on an issue that is important, but not the most important out there for voters.

That, of course, is not stopping any of the potential 2012 contenders from weighing in today.

“President Obama signed into law the Federal government takeover of health care, one of the most flawed and misguided laws in modern history,” former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who launched a presidential exploratory committee this week, said in a statement. “Obamacare takes our health care system in the wrong direction, failing to reduce costs and improve quality.”

And in the National Review, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney writes that if elected he would sign an executive order to roll health care reform back — immediately. Romney continues to endure criticism (and praise from Obama) for helping to pass a very similar law during his term as governor.

“What works in one state may not be the answer for another,” Romney wrote. “Of course, the ultimate goal is to repeal Obamacare and replace it with free-market reforms that promote competition and lower health-care costs. But since an outright repeal would take time, an executive order is the first step in returning power to the states.”

EXCLUSIVE: HILLARY CLINTON ON LIBYA. People close to Libya’s embattled leader Moammar Gadhafi are reaching out to allies around the world exploring their “options,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer yesterday, and the U.S. government has gotten unconfirmed reports that at least one of Gadhafi’s sons has been killed. “We’ve heard about other people close to him reaching out to people that they know around the world — Africa, the Middle East, Europe, North America, beyond — saying what do we do? How do we get out of this? What happens next?” Clinton said in an exclusive interview. “I’m not aware that he personally has reached out, but I do know that people allegedly on his behalf have been reaching out.” As coalition airstrikes attacked Gadhafi’s military assets for another day, Clinton expressed optimism about an early handover, saying the United States would transfer leadership to another country within days. She downplayed concerns about a fracture in the coalition. “It will be days. Whether it’s by Saturday or not depends on the evaluation made by our military commanders along with our allies and partners,” she said. ABC’s Huma Khan has more details on Clinton’s comments:  

LIBYA TIMELINE. ABC’s Martha Raddatz reports this morning that the Obama administration is now focused on “an orderly transfer to NATO over the weekend,” according to a senior U.S. official. And here’s what President Obama said in an interview with Univision yesterday: “The exit strategy will be executed this week, in the sense that we will be pulling back from our much more active efforts to shape the environment. We will still be in a support role. We will be supplying jamming, intelligence and other assets unique to us.”


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE.” ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter Anchor talk to former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu who recently finished a term as chairman of the New Hampshire GOP. Also on the program, Jim O’Sullivan from the National Journal. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.


“TOP LINE” REPLAY: STEVEN COOK. A Middle East expert with the Council on Foreign relations, Cook weighed in on what he said was the lack of clear vision from the White House in launching airstrikes against Libya. “Well, we don’t know too much about the rebellion … we really don’t know too much about this opposition,” Cook said on “Top Line.” yesterday. “We have essentially intervened in a civil war. What we are trying to do through the implementation of the no-fly zone is essentially level the field so that the revolutionary forces will have somewhat of a fighting chance against Gadhafi’s much superior military forces.”



TRUMP TO IOWA IN JUNE. Let the 2012 flirting continue. The Iowa Republican Party announced today that Donald Trump will headline the Party’s annual Lincoln Dinner on Friday, June 10 in Des Moines. It will be Trump’s first visit to Iowa this caucus season. “Mr. Trump’s speech at CPAC earlier this year caught the attention of many political observers and as the ‘First in the Nation’ caucus state, we extended an invite to allow Mr. Trump to introduce himself to Iowa Republicans,” Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn said in a statement. “We are excited to have Mr. Trump share his vision for a better America through his experiences as an individual who has made a career as an entrepreneur and job creator.” This means that Trump will be making stops in both Iowa and New Hampshire in June — the same month he said he’ll make a decision on whether to run. More of the backstory on how Trump’ s Iowa appearance came together from the Des Moines Register’s Tom Beaumont:

WALKING THE ROMNEY-BROWN TIGHTROPE.  The Boston Globe’s Glen Johnson takes a behind-the-scenes look at the trio of advisers pitching in with likely presidential candidate Mitt Romney as well as Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown: “[Eric] Fehrnstrom and business partners Peter Flaherty and Beth Myers not only served Romney as governor of Massachusetts; they were top staffers for his unsuccessful campaign for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. They then branched out on their own, formed the Massachusetts-based Shawmut Group, and directed Brown’s upset win in the 2010 Massachusetts US Senate special election. Now, the trio is assisting Romney as he plots a second presidential campaign and Brown as he seeks re-election to his first full Senate term. The men’s political fates could be decided the same day, Nov. 6, 2012, but the candidates and their advisers will face a challenge until then working in such close proximity to each other. … And should Romney run, Fehrnstrom, Myers, and Flaherty are not expected to be paid staff members again but consultants. Fehrnstrom, for example, doesn’t plan to be on Romney’s plane again as traveling press secretary; rather, he intends to work from the home office and focus on message development and television commercials.”   

GOP DOMINATING SENATE RECRUITMENT RACE. “In the recruiting battle for 2012 Senate candidates, Republicans are winning by a landslide,” noted Politico’s David Catanese. “Just three months into the election cycle, the GOP has locked down heavyweight candidates in seven key Senate races, with top contenders seriously thinking about running in two others. Democrats, on the other hand, are still without a major candidate in Massachusetts and Nevada — two states that present the best opportunities to pick up a seat. And there’s no official word yet on whether Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine will run in a third key race — the open Senate seat in Virginia. “Even the DNC chairman is struggling with whether to run. The fact that it’s difficult for even him to make a decision is a reflection of the environment out there,” said Jon Lerner, a strategist who has worked for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.”

OBAMA VETO THREATS ON THE RISE. “President Obama this year has threatened to veto nearly as many bills as he did in 2009 and 2010 combined,” The Hill’s Christina Marcos writes. “Obama has issued six veto threats in 2011, four of them this month. Working with a Democratic House and Senate over the last couple of years, Obama issued eight during the entire 111th Congress. With Republicans now controlling the House, Obama’s veto threats have picked up considerably. All of the bills Obama has targeted this year have come from the lower chamber. With the Senate in Democratic hands, it’s unlikely Obama will end up vetoing many bills in the 112th Congress. More than 400 House-passed bills died in the Senate in 2010.  In the last Congress, the president expressed “concerns” with many pieces of legislation and only vetoed two relatively low-profile bills.” (h/t ABC’s Amy Bingham)



@yochiNJ: Just landed in #Cairo with SecDef Gates. I’m on my way to#Tahrir Square with a few colleagues to see what’s left at such a historic site

@jaketapper: Secy Gates: “this command and control business is complicated. We haven’t done something like this, kind of on the fly before.”

@RumsfeldOffice: “The mission must determine the coalition; the coalition ought not determine the mission.” #rumsfeldrule #Libya

@MarquardtA: Wreckage far more picked apart than y’day. Still stinks of gas.#Libya

@TheFix: Terrific piece by WaPo’s Jason Horowitz on Media Matters media training camp.

@carr2n: The royal wedding will be on iTunes. Let’s just keep it there, people.



* Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Ron Paul will give a speech at to the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators annual “Homeschool Day at the Capitol” in Des Moines, Iowa.

* Newt Gingrich will tour the Open Door Mission in Houston, TX at 3 p.m.

* Sarah Palin will speak at the Naples Town Hall in Naples, Florida as a part of their Distinguished Speakers Series.

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