Repealing Obamacare, and the Senate

Mike Needham

1/17/2011 12:01:00 AM - Mike Needham

Prognosticators are rarely held accountable in Washington, but Senate Democrats may want to consider holding Chuck Schumer accountable for his analysis of the benefits of Obamacare. Last March, Sen. Schumer smugly predicted, “by November those who voted for healthcare will find it an asset and those who voted against it will find it a liability.”

Well, November has come and gone and it is safe to say the 65 House Democrats who lost their seats in 2010 might quibble with Schumer’s prediction. Indeed, the weight of Obamacare hung like an albatross around the necks of these defeated Representatives. And the wreckage is likely not over.

This week, the House will again vote on Obamacare – this time, to repeal it. After this vote, House members will have no where left to hide on the question of repealing Obamacare. The upside – if there is one – for the far-left is only 13 of the 34 House Democrats who courageously voted against the federal government’s hostile takeover of our health care system remain. And yet, many of them are now waffling on their position.

Take Pennsylvania Democrat Tim Holden. Holden voted against the bill, he said, because he felt strongly “it was not in the interest of my constituency.” Yet, last year, he refused to join 173 of his colleagues in signing a bipartisan discharge petition, which would have forced then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi to allow a vote on repealing this legislation which Holden claimed to be against. Why the disconnect?

Until now, the political heat for obfuscation on Obamacare has largely been directed to members of the House. On Wednesday, the true position of every member of the House will be bright as day. Then, the House will roll up its sleeves to do the critical work of defunding and delaying the implementation of this costly legislation while the battle over repeal moves to the U.S. Senate.

Senator Claire McCaskill, for example, will face the voters of Missouri in less than two years. This is a state in which 71 percent of voters voted to block the Obamacare individual mandate from being implemented. Moreover, Missouri’s House voted last week overwhelmingly to urge their Attorney General to join the multistate lawsuit against Obamacare.

It is clear where Missouri’s voters stand on Obamacare. Unfortunately, it is not clear where McCaskill stands.

Granted, she has already voted against repeal once. Last March, Sen. David Vitter offered an amendment to repeal Obamacare and McCaskill sided with the far-left in voting against repeal. But since then, she has sought to whitewash her vote by coming out against the individual mandate. Well, which is it Senator?

According to election guru Larry Sabato, McCaskill is “very vulnerable” in 2012. Obfuscation and hedging on one of the most important issues facing our country can’t help.

And what about Sen. Jim Webb? Webb, also up for reelection in 2012, said President Obama did “a really terrible job” on health care. He also hails from Virginia, which is leading the charge on one of the two major lawsuits against Obamacare. Over the next two years, he will have multiple opportunities to repeal a bill that the President did a “terrible job” on. Will he have the courage to back up his words?

And the Senator from Montana, Jon Tester is also changing his tune. Last year, when Obamacare passed, he thought it was “a good bill,” which would “stop this broken health care system.” Today, he calls it a “work in progress. “

21 Senate Democrats are up for reelection in 2012, along with the two Independents. Each of those 23 Senators will have to explain to their constituents whether they favor the new taxes, higher premiums, lack of options and special-interest favors that are part of Obamacare.

Obamacare was front-and-center in the tsunami election that brought Republicans to power in the House. Repeated votes in the Senate over the next two years will leave Senators with no place to hide. Those up for reelection will face a choice: Vote for Repeal or Vote to be Replaced.