It's time for another healthcare blitz. President Obama and Democratic leaders have begun a fresh campaign to persuade voters that the healthcare bill passed by the House Sunday night will make life better for everyday Americans. The objective is to limit Democratic losses in this November's midterm elections. Polls indicate that the majority party may take heavy losses in the House and Senate and that the healthcare measure is extremely unpopular with many people. [See a slide show of what is (and isn't) in the healthcare bill.]
Obama signed the bill, which passed the Senate earlier, on Tuesday, and planned to travel to Iowa City, Iowa, Thursday to argue his case.
There is another battle ahead—to win Senate passage of a "reconciliation" measure making fixes in the main legislation in order to address the concerns of many House members. But for now, the Democrats are jubilant. "After nearly 100 years of talk and frustration, after decades of trying, and a year of sustained effort and debate," Obama told reporters Sunday night, "the United States Congress finally declared that America's workers and America's families and America's small businesses deserve the security of knowing that, in this country, neither illness nor accident should endanger the dreams they've worked a lifetime to achieve."
Obama added that the vote shows that government "still works for the people." This notion, in fact, will be a pillar of the Democrats' message. And administration officials are already underscoring what White House counselor David Axelrod says are the "virtues" of the new healthcare plan. They include tax breaks for small businesses and expanding health insurance to millions who are now uninsured.
Republicans are fiercely attacking the plan. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the GOP presidential nominee in 2008, told ABC's Good Morning America that the bill is "terribly wrong for America and Americans." McCain added: "With all the euphoria going on inside the beltway—champagne toasting and all of that—outside of the beltway, the American people are very angry. And they don't like this. And we are going to try to repeal this. And we are going to have a very spirited campaign coming up between now and November. And there will be a very heavy price to pay for it."
Frank Donatelli, chairman of the GOPAC conservative political action committee and former White House political director for President Ronald Reagan, said, "Obamacare is the most irresponsible piece of legislation ever passed by Congress. In one vote, Democrats have fatally weakened Medicare and Medicaid, created a new but unsustainable healthcare entitlement, raised a host of new taxes, and exploded the deficit even beyond the annual trillion-dollar deficits this administration is currently running."
- See a slide show of 10 things that are (and aren't) in the healthcare bill.
- See photos from the final week of the healthcare debate.