Tue, Mar 09, 2010 - Page 7 News List

Top Republican says Obama faces hefty healthcare poll hit

AFP , WASHINGTON

The top US Senate Republican predicted on Sunday that US President Barack Obama would pay a hefty price in upcoming mid-term elections if he forces his healthcare reforms through Congress.

Mitch McConnell warned Democrats, fearful of big losses in November from their majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, not to ram through reforms fiercely opposed by the Republicans.

“What the American people would like us to do is not make this gargantuan mistake,” McConnell told ABC television, portraying the reforms as costly for Americans in the short-term.

“The benefits don’t kick in for four years. Just looking at the politics of it, there’s nothing but pain for the next four years. Why in the world would they think that would be popular?” he asked.

Obama has piled pressure on Democratic lawmakers to sign on to his latest strategy, which calls for the House to abandon the legislation it approved in November and pass the Senate’s version, coupled with “fixes” to that bill.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a fresh call on Sunday to quickly pass the bill, pointing to a Goldman Sachs report that found competition drying up and profits rising among private health insurers.

“We know what doing nothing looks like, and it looks pretty scary,” Sebelius told NBC’s Meet the Press program, stressing that 15,000 Americans lose insurance every day and tens of millions have no coverage at all.

The health secretary said she expected there would ultimately be enough votes in Congress to pass the bill.

“Let’s get the job done, let’s finish what’s been talked about for the past year,” Sebelius said later on ABC.

Democratic congressional aides have said they hope to pass a final bill before the start of a two-week Easter recess at the end of the day on March 26.

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