November 20th, 2009
11:34 AM ET
13 years ago

Democrats slam GOP as party of 'fear' in health care debate

Washington (CNN) - Traditional Senate decorum yielded to brass-knuckle politicking in the health care debate Friday as top congressional Democrats sought to close party ranks before a key procedural vote this weekend.

Senate Democrats slammed their Republican colleagues as leaders of a counterproductive party of fear caught in an obstructionist mindset dating back to the New Deal. Republicans, in turn, ripped Democrats for pushing a bill that conservatives claim will force millions of Americans to drop insurance plans they like while jacking up premiums and doing nothing to slow spiraling medical costs.

The harsh rhetoric served as a backdrop for a rare Saturday night Senate
vote on whether to formally proceed with floor debate on Senate Majority Leader

Harry Reid's sweeping $848 billion health care bill.

If Republicans stay unified in opposition to the bill, Reid will need the support of all 58 Senate Democrats along with independent Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut to reach the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster.

Three key Democratic moderates - Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska - have refused to publicly indicate if they'll back Reid. Each has expressed concern about the cost and scope of the legislation.

Filed under: GOP • Senate Democrats
soundoff (234 Responses)
  1. Pragmatic

    The republicans had their opportunity, starting in 2000, with huge majorities in both houses + the President.

    They didn't even attempt health care reform, immigration reform, the tax code or SS reform,

    Now, we are supposed to take their ideas seriously? The party whose alternative budget was 19 pages – with no numbers?

    November 20, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  2. Doug

    I am a democrat who will be punished again by being taxed as a penalty from the IRS. So much for supporting President Obama who has switched his position on this issue from the campaign. My question is why did he say this would not happen?

    November 20, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  3. Jim

    The sad part is that the GOP probably has some good ideas that could make this bill better. Unfortunately they have decided that they want nothing to do with anything this President proposes.

    If world peace were declared, the GOP would slam this president by saying the defense industry would lose jobs.

    Whethere you like the bill or not, its a shame that the GOP has decided to put politics ahead of the American people.

    November 20, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. seebofubar

    Thank God the Republicans are spreading fear about this abomination of a bill. No one in their right mind, except thoes who don't believe in taking responsibility for their own life (democrats), would vote for this bill. Fear is not enough...we need panic.

    November 20, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  5. simp

    RAL before you start making comments like the one you made, learn how to spell first and then learn how to make a complete sentence.

    November 20, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  6. Wants Progress not Regression

    The Republican leadership seems to believe the only solution is to guide this country into a "Dark Ages" of American culture, whether domestic or global. We should be moving forward and devising ways to enhance all of our citizens' lives rather than instill fear and hatred, and that only rejection of concepts and forward looking ideas leading to regression is our salvation.

    November 20, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  7. Why do Republican'ts hate America so much?

    Good! Mark my words all of you right-wing-birther-bagger-nut-jobs . . . . when health insurance reform gets passed (and it IS going to get passed) the poll numbers of the President are going to go way up again! And when the economy starts to get better and unemployment starts to go down, in large part because health insurance costs to small business is one of the biggest problems for the economy in general and small business in particular, the President's poll numbers are going to SKY-ROCKET! Republican'ts are a dying breed! You people are on the wrong side of history on this one!

    November 20, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  8. Vet worried about our country

    A health care bill, added on top of all the reform and deficit, is what will drive this country into fiscal insolvency. Look at the headlines over the past few days $98B in fraud payments, mostly in the Medicare/Medicaid program…some areas 30% fraud of the expenditures…now we are going to increase that availability by $890B. I agree with the respondent that stated clean up our Government first and stop all the wasted expenditures. Reform the insurance, HMOs, and lawsuits…when does adding middlemen and lawyers ever improve a system and decrease cost? These agencies collectively probably make more than the doctors. Although every person is created equally in God’s eyes, it is not everyone’s responsibility to provide for those who don’t provide for themselves. I agree with reality commenter that this will force low income families to choose between food and health insurance…if they choose food, the government can fine them. Government should not demand how you spend your money. To save 50,000 at a cost of $890B and driving the country into insolvency doesn’t sound realistic. As for this commenter, I have a friend that had an aneurysm and is now on cobra and unemployed, but his family & friends are assisting him and assuring he is receiving the proper care. Tell me how a 15 min visit by the neurosurgeon to check his status equates to $2,000 charge for the day by the hospital. Healthcare Costs needs reformed, not spending money to the insurance agencies to cover everyone.

    November 20, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  9. Bren

    Here is what I find hilarious.............

    Based on Gallup, Rasmussen, ABC polls--–Independents plan on voting for the Republicans in 2010--by 49% to 30%!!!

    I wonder how much higher this number will get by the time the elections get here??

    The Democrats do NOT win elections without the approval/support of the Independents!!!

    November 20, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. Jon

    I fear unconstitutional legislation.

    The only thing that will destroy America is americans like pelosi, reid, and obama. They are actively tearing us down from the inside.

    Give me back my constitution, and America will correct itself.

    November 20, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  11. Bren

    "If Republicans stay unified in opposition to the bill, Reid will need the support of all 58 Senate Democrats along with independent Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut to reach the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster."


    The Republicans will stay unified--–and Lieberman said that he would vote WITH the Republicans for the filibuster.

    This could definitely be a problem for the Dems!!!

    November 20, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. seebofubar

    Hey Lacrossmom, you seem to be the poster child for all liberal democrats who want all of us who actually work hard for a living and prosper to pay the way for all of you lazy liberals. I'll bet the hardest thing that you do every day is to stick your hand out and beg for money.

    November 20, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  13. BestProfitCompany = WAR

    You know why rethuglicans like to use fear? Besides being a great motivation tool. Rethuglicans believe Americans are cowards! That's right, they use fear to control the cowards of this country. Only cowards are afraid of terrorist! Only cowards get down to the level of the terrorist by not providing American values to the capture terrorist. Only cowards belong to the rethuglican party.

    November 20, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  14. Marie in California

    The GOP is the only one speaking the truth these days. The health care bill is the social equivalent of an will ultimately kill the country.

    No wonder I'm now a "recovering Democrat!"

    November 20, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  15. Slappin the bass

    Washington really does think we're a bunch of idiots. $848 Billion in the left hand – but don't look at the other $400+ Billion that they're moving around in the other hand for special interests that will get pushed thru as separate bills or pushed back on the states.

    Democrats and Republicans – WISE UP do you really think that most of these jokers in Washington are working for you? Really?

    November 20, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  16. walleye

    I am certain that when this bill passes and helps all Americans the GOP will try to take credit for it. This is the same bunch that tried to block some of the programs that FDR pushed 70 years ago and are still benefiting our nation. This is the same bunch that tried to block Medicare back in the 60's. In the meantime it has served our seniors quite well. Dont think that costs to everyone wont go up, but we have no choice. We have provided assistance to the entire world and rarely got any thanks. Its about time we assisted OUR OWN. Stop wasting time and get this bill moving.

    November 20, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  17. A_Nonny_Mouse

    Dems are calling Repubs the "counterproductive party of fear caught in an obstructionist mindset..." ?

    I'm an Independent and I'm afraid of this bill. You bet I'm afraid. Want a few clues why?

    EVERYTHING the government gets its paws into goes WAY over budget.

    The USA currently has TRILLIONS of dollars of debt. Now our "deep thinkers" want to add another trillion or so to that. (Come on, you folks who believe Congress can cut $400 billion "waste and fraud" from Medicare/Medicaid; if they could have found and eliminated it, they WOULD have already. What our "compassionate" government is going to do: cut benefits for millions of seniors and poor people in order to provide coverage for about 20 million people not currently covered, most of whom COULD go out and buy insurance if they really thought it was important.)

    Our debt is financed by Treasuries. Other countries are backing away from buying them. The only thing our government has left in its arsenal is to flood the market with less-valuable money: ie, create inflation.

    This country is in DEEP financial doo-doo. Now is not –repeat NOT!!– the time to be piling more costs onto our mountain of debt.

    A final thought– all these "healthcare reform bills", in both House and Senate, depend on oversight by "special panels" which have absolute authority. Currently, if your HMO or other insurer denies coverage for whatever ails you, you can ask for a hearing to reconsider that denial. That won't be possible under the new plan. The nameless, faceless wonders on these panels (who may or may not have a medical degree) will determine if your doctor's proposed treatment program for you is necessary and cost-effective based upon criteria THEY select. Their decision will override your doctor's choices.

    November 20, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  18. Mojo

    The "we can't afford it right now" argument .....

    Republicans used it in 1994... Insurance premiums went up 50% between 94 and 2001. Between 2001 and the present, insurance premiums went up another 89%. This affects business, employers, individuals, and the government.

    The government has a 240 billion dollar liability (subsidy) to health insurance companies to subsidize these premiums.

    By 2016, premiums are expected to double (again). We need reform now.

    November 20, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  19. Navy Vet

    Get Smart, The Social Security cost of living adjustment is tied to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).

    The Democrats didn't vote to not provide a cost of living increase, it has been the law since 1975 to follow a formula tied to the consumer price index. Educate yourself before you go blaming Obama or the Dems because it suits your political ideology.

    Also, snce when is reducing inefficiency a bad thing? Reducing the redundancy and inefficiency in Medicae will reduce the cost without reducing the benefits.

    Education is not elitism, you may want to get some

    November 20, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  20. GG

    I don't usually comment on other peoples comments but the comment by Greg from SF is just plain ignorant; he obviously has never studied or has little understanding of history to make the statement "republicans are consistently on the wrong side of history.

    Were republicans on the wrong side of history during the civil war? The democratic party completely opposed the war against the south, the emancipation of the slaves, etc. More recently was Ronald Reagan on the wrong side of history? The democrats consistently opposed his strategy of confronting the USSR – who was on the wrong side there?

    If you just take the issue of entitlement programs as Greg does – maybe the republicans were right to oppose these programs from the start because their scope (and cost) have morphed far beyond the problems they were created for. This is exactly what many of us fear on the health care bill(s) – that they are just the starting point of the democrats long term plans to completely control our health care.

    November 20, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  21. Jeff

    Obstructionalist has such a bad connotation. I for one appreciate the ends, if not the means, of them preventing this bill from going through. The focus has not been where it should be – reducing overall costs, but rather on shifting the costs away from the users, which will accomplish nothing more than an entitlement mentality and a lack of cost control, as the ones with potential to control are unaware of the real costs.

    November 20, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  22. Grundoon

    Anybody else notice that for the GOP money is no object when it come to what they want to spend money on? It's only when the democrats are trying to push policy they won't keep their yap traps shut about costs. The GOP did nothing to stop the Bush Administration's spending frenzy and now they are talking about costs. Shut up already.

    November 20, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  23. WrongKindofChange

    If the Republicans are the party of "fear" then the democrats are the party of "lies, cheating, and corruption."

    November 20, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  24. D.

    Democrats should slam themselves for being the party of "Spend" and "Be irresponsible". They took over congress long ago and look where we are. They add spendings like I take showers!

    November 20, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  25. The Real Repblican Motto: "In Fear We Trust"

    That's all they have. It's their go-to play.

    Their screeching pundits are blasting full-out mendacious paranoid conspiracy theories 24-7 on AM radio and Fox. It works for them. Their motis operandi is screw policy and the truth, just scare the hell out of the shallow and ignorant fringe they literally live off of.

    November 20, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
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