December 8th, 2009
07:36 PM ET
9 months ago

Party chairmen face off over health care, jobs


Washington (CNN) – The Democratic and Republican Party chairmen called on legislators Tuesday to tone down some of the heated rhetoric emerging from the health care debate as legislation moves through the Senate.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, needs to apologize for comparing GOP critics of health care reform to opponents of the Civil Rights Act. Steele called it "an ignorant statement," in an interview on CNN's "The Situation Room."

"The reality of the country right now is, you're seeing played out in large measure the arrogance of power," Steele said, appearing with Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine. "Where Democrats feel that they can come to well of the Senate, say whatever they want to say, do whatever they do, and there's not a daggone thing you can do about it, America. 'You can't stop us.' Well, I'm here today to say you can."

Kaine countered that sharp words are coming from both sides of the aisle, pointing out that Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, recently described Medicaid as "a medical ghetto."

"That's language that probably isn't appropriate either," the DNC chair said.

Steele took aim at an administration plan, outlined Tuesday by President Obama, to help small businesses. The RNC chairman claimed that any boost the plan would give to small business will be counteracted by a growing tax burden, regulatory burden and new health care laws being enacted by Democrats. "It's not real," Steele said of the jobs plan. "That's the reality of it."

Kaine said Republicans have no plan except "to be against anything the president is for" and boasted that the stimulus package has "saved or created 1.6 million jobs." His Republican counterpart called the 1.6 million figure "imaginary."

Steele also elaborated on his plan to publish a new book in January about the Republican Party. Asked about the upcoming book, Steele said it will focus "the future of this country and our party."


Filed under: Michael Steele • Tim Kaine
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Barack reads his lies, Gov't grows, Unions Thrive and the Economy dies.

    All the Polls say that the majority of Americans don't want this Healthcare legislation resembling something only flies would be interested in having.

    Time for Republicans to do what the majority of the Americans are begging for, and that is to kill the BILL!!!

    Time to filibuster, no more amendments, just kill it.

    December 8, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  2. mjm

    "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, needs to apologize for comparing GOP critics of health care reform to opponents of the Civil Rights Act."

    Or he needs to admit it was the southern Democrats, including Byrd, that fought against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Byrd lead the filibuster for days.

    Reid needs to admit it was the Democrats in the South that fought to keep slavery.

    "Medicaid as "a medical ghetto."" That's exactly what Medicaid is. It is the lowest level of heath care for those who need it the most. It is a disaster, and they want to expand it.

    December 8, 2009 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  3. Dennis

    The only thing ignorant right now is the way the Republicans are acting, like a bunch of 5th graders. But then again you have to communicate in the language of your followers.

    December 8, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  4. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Michael Steele is the GOP's shoe shine boy and he deserves the "SHOE SHINE BOY AWARD OF THE YEAR" and the Republicans ought to respect that with no apology needed.

    December 8, 2009 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  5. Hendrik

    Republicans truly are pigs. Each time I read about them I think about McCarthy and slavery and railing against Medicare and locking up the Japanese. For some reason I think it is the GOP that are to blame.

    December 8, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  6. Steph

    I hate to tell the Republicans but the economy is improving. The DOW is well above where it was a year ago, and my 401K is growing again. The job losses are the lowest they've been in 2 years. I'm sorry to tell the GOP, but American is recovering and is beginning to thrive. I know they wanted America to fail for purely political reasons, but it just isn't playing out the way they wanted it. God Bless America! We are recovering, and we will be stronger than ever!

    December 8, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  7. Jim

    First the Republicans wreck the country and then they complain that the Democrats aren't fixing it the right way by using the same stupid ideas that wrecked it. They complain about the jobs numbers and now criticize the President's plan to create more jobs by giving tax cuts to small businesses because it will raise taxes? What exactly do they believe if they say that tax cuts will create tax burdens? When will they make some effort to be consistent and quit whining?

    December 8, 2009 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  8. aware

    Kill the Bill or so long dems in 2010 & 2012. In either case ditch the loser BO. :(

    December 8, 2009 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  9. miken3

    to be quite honest, I am an Independant voter who is completely tired of this complete and utter load of garbage that the poltical spectrum has become. I have put up with a load of the worst spin over the last 20 years but the most recent 2 years has been the absolutely worst I have ever been the unfortunate witness to. Mr. Steele and the Republicans are total losers at everything that they have tried to do, and their spin is even a total waste of time which is making them look like complete idiots. They have absoltely NO ideas of their own, NO, suggestions, NO mask of even attempting to work in a bipartisan way, NO input, NO agenda other then to themselves and their most radicals. This is a very sorry state of affairs. I and many that I associate with will be happy to see them go away completely with the religious nuts that they cling to. I support the freedom of religion, but tryinhg to force it down someones neck is WAY beynd acceptable nowadays. Get a clue, and join the civilised world and become CONTRIBUTING members of society guys and gals!

    December 8, 2009 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  10. Jobless Recovery

    Hateful & intolerant lib dems will smear anyone who disagrees with their radical agenda. They are abusing their power to cater to the extreme left & know they only have one more year to pass legislation that will impair our economy, choke us in debt, & ultimately bring about hyper inflation & the total collaspe of the dollar. No amount of media control can hide the facts that their trillion $ stimulus has had no return & did not keep unemployment below 8% as promised. Empty words....frequent & eloquent speeches but the Community Organizer is only good at campaigning....not leading an entire natiion...just the DNC.

    December 8, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  11. Perusing-through

    GOP Party Chairman Michael Steele is getting desperate. Steele knows he is on thin ice and the Republicans are ready to toss him for the slightest cause.

    December 8, 2009 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  12. mojo

    Well, just a few weeks ago Mitt Romney submitted his 10 point economic plan that had so called conservatives giddy.

    #1•Repair the stimulus. Freeze the funds that haven't yet been spent and redirect them to immediate, private sector job-creation priorities.

    #2 •Create tax incentives that promote business expansion and hiring. For example, install a robust investment tax credit, permit businesses to expense capital purchases made in 2010, and reduce payroll taxes. These will reignite construction, technology and a wide array of capital goods industries, and lead to expanded employment.

    Well what do you know... two items now being proposed by Obama, which republicans are now against after they were for it just three weeks ago.

    December 8, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  13. get me a shovel..its getting deep

    "saved or created 1.6 million jobs" WHERE? overseas? It hasn't done it here for AMERICANS...I say we get rid of the congressman and put in new workers...ones that are not corrupt! All of them in DC are! out with them all I want real change. I dont want anyone that has ever held office in there how about that kind of change!!!!

    December 8, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  14. chris

    lol Steele has nothin to come back with...

    December 8, 2009 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  15. Matt

    Obama was given good advice from the FexEx president on how to create jobs. Unfortunately he is only listening to labor unions, (if you can't do, teach.) professors (if you can't do, teach) and loonie left-wing radicals (many who seem to post on CNN).

    Obama and his policies are bad for the US economy. No wonder he is now polling at only 47% (should be lower, but lots of people don't read the news or care).

    December 8, 2009 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  16. Four and The Door

    Look what the Democrats America elected are delivering. When Plan A didn't work to create real jobs, do you know what they came back with? More of Plan A.

    Publishing false "jobs created" data on the internet and then using excuses that everyone else gave the Federal Government bad data is pathetic at best. Effective organizations are not run like that.

    December 8, 2009 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  17. MR RIGHT

    Ok lets be perfectly clear, (Obamaese for bend over) You are trying to put the country into multi trillions of unsustanable debt and pass it down through generations to fund unfufillable promises and pie in the sky experements and you want us TO TONE IT DOWN??? You are either total fools or are bent on destroying this country to build your marxist vision of the hippie communes you libs miss so much (if you can remember them).

    December 8, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  18. Jean-Paul

    The GOP is just fighting for the rich period.

    December 8, 2009 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  19. Elias Kleinbock

    I respect Tim Kaine, but he should actually respond to Steele's comments instead of throwing around accusations of "Republican talking points."
    Meh.

    December 8, 2009 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  20. Marie Laveaux

    Steele ought to know all about the arrogance of power...his party under Bush and Cheney wrote The Book on the subject. His party has no plan for anything, just criticism

    December 8, 2009 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  21. NotFooledTX

    I didn't think the republicans could possibly be more lame or ridiculous, but Mr. Steele never fails to surprise me. What a clown.

    December 8, 2009 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  22. ShiWms Phx AZ

    Let’s try to be honest here... I am still recouperating from the last 7 years of Bush n Co. I haven’t been given the chance to judge Obama. There are some who write as though this mess started when Obama was on his way in and Bush was on his way out. I have a great memory…

    It’s time for Change!

    December 8, 2009 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  23. Aaron

    Maybe if Steele would tone down his rhetoric and kept his ignorance better hidden, the legislators might tone down.

    December 9, 2009 12:16 am at 12:16 am |