Slap to Obama: GOP House votes to kill health law
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) — Pressing an election-year point, Republicans pushed yet another bill through the House on Wednesday to repeal the nation’s two-year-old health care law, a maneuver that forced Democrats to choose between President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement and a public that is persistently skeptical of its value.
The vote was 244-185, with five Democrats defectors siding with Republicans.
By Republican count, the vote marked the 33rd time in 18 months the tea party-infused GOP majority has tried to eliminate, defund or otherwise scale back the program — opponents scornfully call it “Obamacare” — since the GOP took control of the House.
Repeal this year by Congress is doomed, since the Democratic-controlled Senate will never agree.
But Illinois Rep. Peter Roskam said before joining other Republicans in Wednesday’s House vote: “Here’s the good news. The voters get the last word in November. Stay tuned.”
Nor was the vote in the House the only act of political theater during the day as campaign concerns increasingly crowded out bipartisan attempts at law-making in the Capitol.
One day after a campaigning Obama called on Congress to pass his proposal to extend tax cuts on all but the highest wage earners, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky offered to allow an immediate vote. “I can’t see why Democrats wouldn’t want to give him the chance” to sign the bill, he said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., countered by blocking an immediate vote. “We’ll get to the tax issues. That way we’ll be able to talk in more detail about Governor Romney’s taxes,” he said in a reference to Democratic campaign attacks on the GOP presidential candidate’s overseas investment, the relatively low rate of income tax he is required to pay and his refusal thus far to release personal tax returns dating before 2010.
The health care debate roiled the campaign for the White House as well as Congress.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney drew boos from his largely black audience at the NAACP convention when he vowed to wipe out Obama’s overhaul.
In the House, Republicans assailed the law as a job-killing threat to the economic recovery, but Democrats said repeal would eliminate consumer protections that already have affected millions.
“The intent of the president’s health care law was to lower costs and to help create jobs. ... Instead, it is making our economy worse, driving up costs and making it harder for small businesses to hire,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. He cited a study by a business group that estimated one of the bill’s taxes would cost up to 249,000 jobs, and a different estimate a second tax would “put as many as 47,100 in jeopardy.”