The Hill: Alexander: Dems face 'political wipeout' if they push 'act of political arrogance'

Posted on March 14, 2010

Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) said Democrats face a "political wipeout" if they pass the healthcare bill.

"I think it's a political kamikaze mission to insist on this," Alexander said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday.

Alexander said passage of the bill would be "an act of political arrogance" that Americans haven't seen since Watergate. He predicted "an instant spontaneous campaign to repeal" the bill and that its passage would "change the leadership in this country."

Republicans on several Sunday talk shows said the healthcare bill will be a major issue in the congressional elections this November. They pointed to polls showing more Americans against the bill than for it. According to the average of surveys, 48 percent oppose the bill while 44 percent support it.

"If they pass this thing, I think they lose the House of Representatives this fall," said Karl Rove, the former adviser to President George W. Bush, on Fox.



"I think we have a chance at winning Republican control of the House," Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on CNN. "It's a steep climb but it's doable."

Democrats and the Obama administration said the healthcare bill, which will expand coverage to 31 million Americans and block insurance companies from refusing to cover people with pre-existing conditions, is needed to rein in skyrocketing healthcare costs.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said lawmakers who back the bill will pass it because it's the right policy, not out of political considerations.

"We've got to get a hold of this problem; we've got to do something about the spending," he said on CBS' Face the Nation. 

On CNN, White House senior adviser David Axelrod criticized Republicans for saying Democrats would take a beating in midterm elections if they force the bill through.

"Mitch McConnell, John Boehner have been generous in giving advice to Democrats about how careless this vote is," Axelrod said wryly.

The independent Congressional Budget Office predicts the bill would cost nearly $900 billion but would be fully paid for and cut deficits by more than $100 billion over the next decade.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said the bill was necessary to rein in insurance premiums and health insurers' unpopular practices. She attacked the group representing insurers, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), for "carpet-bombing" the Democratic healthcare proposals with critical television advertisements.

AHIP President Karen Ignagni called Democratic attacks on insurers a "vilification campaign" that distracts from ways to reduce costs.

Ignagni argued that soaring premiums are being driven not by insurance policies but by the underlying cost of healthcare and a bad economy causing people to drop coverage, which increases costs for others.