Republicans in Washington see the stunning upset victory of Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts as a wake-up call against Washington’s arrogance and a definitive end to President Obama’s top-down makeover of the nation’s healthcare system.
Speaking with House Republican leaders on Wednesday morning, House Minority Leader John Boehner called Brown’s victory the culmination of a “political rebellion that’s been brewing in America” since the town hall meetings that erupted last summer to protest Obamacare.
“It manifested itself in August at town hall meetings around the country," Boehner said. "We saw it manifest itself in what happened in Virginia and New Jersey back in November. And we saw it manifest itself again last night in Massachusetts, when the people of Massachusetts stood up and said, ‘enough is enough.’”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R,-Ky., described the Massachusetts election as a referendum on whether the government should take over one-sixth of the economy.
“I think we heard a large and resounding message yesterday in one of the most, if arguably not the most, liberal state in America,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday they will continue to push healthcare reform through Congress regardless of the election results in Massachusetts, either by refusing to seat Sen.-elect Scott Brown or by splitting up the massive Obamacare legislation into smaller parts.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Wednesday that the White House still expects to pass a healthcare bill this year. “There are different ways to do this,” he said, insisting that Brown’s victory was not a referendum on the president’s healthcare plans.
“It’s that kind of arrogance that has the American people about ready to pull their hair out,” Boehner said. “Our team is committed to killing this bill, to scrapping this bill, and starting all over.”
One sign of how dramatically the political winds have shifted is an effort in the Senate to raise the ceiling on the national debt. Reid had been seeking to persuade his own party to raise the debt limit by another $1 trillion, but he dropped the effort by Wednesday morning because he couldn’t get the votes.
A top Republican Senate aide warned that Brown’s victory “isn’t a reason for us to be high-fiving each other. It was a vote for us to get back to work.”
The Republican leadership has introduced “common-sense reforms to make our current system work better,” Boehner said. Those proposals are available at healthcare.gop.gov.
“The number one concern of the American people is the cost of healthcare,” he said.
The Republican proposals would not just lower the cost but also expand access to healthcare. “We can win this fight,” Boehner said.
Republican leaders say they are working on a platform for the congressional elections this November somewhat akin to the “Contract with America” that led them to victory in 1994. Exactly what form such an election agenda will take, and how it will be crafted, remain to be decided.
Boehner has indicated that he wants to see popular input into the Republican election proposals, something that Britain’s Conservative Party has been doing in recent weeks by inviting activists to weigh in with questions and suggestions on education and social reforms.
“People are tired of the arrogance of Washington, so we have to reach out and let the public take part” in crafting an election agenda for November, he said
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