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Three GOP Senators On Obamacare’s Prospects and the Role of Grassroots Opposition

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As our petition drive continues to mount towards a million —just about two-thirds of the way there and hopefully you will join if you haven’t already— you may be wondering “Why bother?” Here’s what Arizona Senator Jon Kyl told me on yesterday’s program:

HH: All right, let’s talk politics. We’ve been helping the National Center for Policy Analysis get their petition up to a million. Right now, we’re about 667,000 signatures.

JK: That’s incredible. It’s great.

HH: Does that matter? As a Senator…

JK: Absolutely!

HH: Does that matter?

JK: It matters. You bet it matters. In fact, it’s the whole ballgame here. You know, inside baseball, oh, the Obama health care deal is a done deal. And they bludgeoned all kinds of the doctors and the hospitals and the drug companies and the insurances companies, this is going to be a done deal, so you might as well come to the table and get the scraps that we’re willing to give you in exchange for going along with what we’re going to do here. And a lot of folks thought that that was the case. But little by little, as soon as it has seen the light of day, folks have realized what’s in these bills, and have said no way. We do not want our, first of all, a huge, probably at least $2 trillion dollar spending bill on top of what we’ve done already, we don’t want to go into that much debt, and especially if it’s going to effect our own insurance coverage. On Medicare, by the way, you know, Medicare is unsustainable. The administration has said that. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to do is we’re going to try to save some money in Medicare, meaning provide fewer services to seniors, and are we going to then make Medicare healthy? No. We’re going to take that “savings” and use it to cover more Americans. So there are a lot of features here that the American people don’t like, and they’re very anxious about. And the longer it hangs out, the more they see that. That then has an impact on members of Congress, whereas I think members thought at one point this was a done deal, now you see Democrats and Republicans saying not so fast, we don’t think so, because of what their constituents are telling them. So petitions, e-mails, telephone calls, letters, visits with members of Congress over the August recess, all of these things are critical to folks expressing their point of view. You have a right to do it, you need to do it, and if you do it right, I think we can stop this legislation, and reform health care in a sensible way.

The complete transcript of my conversation with Senator Kyl is here.

The point is that all three GOP senators I spoke with yesterday –Senator James Inhofe and Senator Jim DeMint in addition to Senator Kyl– believe that Obamacare can be stopped, but not without a huge pushback from the grassroots. (TheInhofe transcript is here; the DeMint transcript here.)

The key to a genuine counter-effort is communicating the fact that the president is most eager to obscure: A government option/public plan will incentivize tens of thousands of employers to dump millions of employees into the government’s health insurance program, stripping them of their current health insurance coverage which the vast majority of them value highly. Thus the president’s biggest spin among many last night was also the one he opened with –the promise that if you like your health insurance, you will keep it and it will be more stable. This is the president’s mantra and it is simply not true. He knows it and every serious observer knows it.

MSM refuses to push the president on this point, and instead —as with this Washington Post story this morning— follows the White House’s lead in attacking data that undermines the president’s bogus claim.

No matter how much the president spins however, facts are stubborn things: A government option/public plan will act as a magnet for employers who want to offload health insurance burdens on to the government. Millions of average Americans who hear the president time and again assure them that they can keep their insurance if they like it will be stunned to learn that in fact their insurance coverage will change after this bill passes. MSM is blocking for the president’s deception on this crucial issue, and it is the most shameful aspect of the cravenness of much of the MSM in these early months of the Obama presidency. The love affair with the president among the Beltway media was to be expected, and the deep bias against the center-right on other issues is hardly surprising at all, but MSM has always told itself and the public that it is on the side of the average Joe citizen. That’s a joke, and never has it been so obvious as with the MSM’s refusal to call the president on his biggest head-fake in this debate, and the one with the greatest consequence for middle class Americans. (For an essay on the president’s willingness to spin, see Scott Johnson’s post at Powerline.)

If Obamacare passes and employers do the predictable thing and push their workers into the new government plan, those workers will be angry when their coverage changes and their care declines. They’ll be right to blame the president and the Democrats, but they will also have a right to point at the MSM as a key ally of the White House in pushing through this giant bait-and-switch.


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