Activists are kicking off a pledge initiative to ensure politicians promising to "repeal and replace" healthcare reform actually follow through and vote to pull the plug on Obamacare.
To encourage candidates to keep their promises even after K-street lobbyists come calling, two nonprofit groups — Independent Women's Voice and American Majority Action — launched a "repeal pledge" drive on Sept. 21.
More than 60 candidates, and about 30,000 voters, already have signed onto it.
The pledge is similar to the famous taxpayer contract promoted by Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform. It asks politicians and voters to commit to a specific anti-Obamacare platform.
Elements of the pledge include commitments to:
- Vote for any legislation that seeks to repeal the healthcare bill, HR 3590.
- Vote for all discharge petitions that would bring repeal measures to the floor for a vote despite opposition from party leaders.
- Vote for any measure that would lead to Obamacare's "defunding, deauthorization, and repeal."
- Support measures that negate only parts of the bill, such as its mandates, its provisions restricting doctor choice and access, and those provisions that "violate individual freedom and privacy, reduce healthy competition, increase costs, or raise taxes."
The entire pledge can be read at TheRepealPledge.com.
Polls show repeal is popular with the American public. A recent Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll, for example, showed 51 percent of voters favor repeal.
Talk-radio giant Rush Limbaugh is among those lauding the repeal effort. On his Sept. 28 program he told listeners: "They’re working hard at this site to get candidates to sign it as well, just to try to get some feet held to the fire on this rather than just a bunch of words.”
National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru recently recommended the pledge as well, writing, "All candidates who say they oppose Obamacare should take the pledge — or be pressed to explain why they won’t."
There have been growing reports of healthcare-industry lobbyists pouring money into GOP coffers, presumably to hold their place in line when it comes to manipulating any legislative reforms sought in the new Congress.
"It would be understandable, if the Republicans seem to be coming into a new majority, that there would be vested interests that want them to not touch pieces of [the Obamacare] legislation," Heather Richardson Higgins, president and CEO of Independent Women's Voice, tells Newsmax.
"For example the insurance companies, which hated the public option, [and] loved the idea of an individual mandate. So maybe they have a vested interest," she says. "And we all know that pharma was very much on the side of trying to get this legislation passed."
Higgins and other opponents of President Obama's healthcare legislation want to lock in commitments before the election.
They know it will be difficult enough to stop the implementation of the legislation while Obama is in office — especially with some lobbyists probably fighting the repeal effort every step of the way.
"If all one does is vote to repeal it, that will be vetoed," Higgins tells Newsmax. "And then in effect the law will continue to be implemented, with all the harms that it potentially entails . . . whether you're talking about 1099s for businesses, the elimination and severe restrictions on health savings accounts, the implementation of the individual mandates, the 16,000 new IRS agents — it goes on and on."
The purpose of the pledge, Higgins says, is to ensure that the opposition to ObamaCare is more than just symbolic.
The important thing, she reasons, is to make every effort "to slow it, dismantle it, and eventually, once one has the presidency or the capacity to override the veto, either one, then to fully repeal it."
Higgins tells Newsmax that every member of Congress has received the pledge, adding: "Now maybe they're all just really busy. But there are many of them who have not signed whom one would have thought would have signed. And that's a concern."
She adds: "Since our pledge is not one that is going to cut deals with different interest groups, but simply says, 'Go back to where we were and try again.' That might explain why some members are reluctant to sign it."
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