Boehner Urges American People to Help Defeat Health Care

Posted March 20, 2010 at 5:00am

Updated: 11:08 a.m.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) used the weekly GOP radio address on Saturday to continue his party’s attacks on Democrats over health care reform, accusing the majority of using strong-arm tactics and imploring the American people to help defeat the effort.

The House is expected to vote Sunday afternoon on the Senate version of the bill, and Republicans had until now expressed confidence that they could block the vote.

But in his prepared remarks, Boehner said “Republicans can’t beat the bill, but the American people can,” and he urged constituents to make their voices heard. That request comes as Democrats engage in an aggressive whipping campaign to drum up support from wavering Democrats and as Capitol phone lines are jammed with constituent calls.

“Don’t let Democrats in Washington take this debate away from you. Don’t let them make this about arm-twisting and backroom deals,” Boehner said. “And don’t let President Obama get away with asking his fellow Democrats to vote for this bill to save his presidency.”

Boehner implored Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to enforce a roll-call vote, under which each Member would “have to stand before the American people and announce his or her vote.”

He called the controversial deem-and-pass procedure, expected to be used to pass the bill, “outrageous” and “an affront to the principles of representative democracy,” and he decried the bill itself as a big-government policy full of tax increases and Medicare cuts

President Barack Obama, meanwhile, has made health care reform the focus of 13 of his Saturday radio and Internet addresses since taking office, but today Obama instead urged action on the just-introduced financial regulatory reform bill. He also had harsh words for Republicans and Boehner, in particular, painting the party and the Minority Leader as beholden to special interests and unwilling to work across the aisle on financial regulatory reform.

Boehner “reportedly met with a top executive of one of America’s largest banks and made thwarting [financial] reform a key part of his party’s pitch for campaign contributions,” Obama said in his prepared remarks.

Perhaps this and a recent multimillion-dollar ad and lobbying campaign by the reform’s detractors are “why, after months of working with Democrats, Republicans walked away from this proposal,” Obama added. “I regret that and urge them to reconsider.”

In response, Michael Steel, spokesman for Boehner, accused the president of a low blow: “The President is wrong on the facts, and it should be beneath him to use the official weekly address to make inaccurate partisan attacks. The American people are asking, where are the jobs? But once again, Washington Democrats are offering partisan jabs rather than solutions.”

Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) proposed a sweeping reform of the country’s financial regulatory structure this week, and the committee is expected to take up debate on the bill Monday.

Obama called the reforms “essential” and said Dodd’s bill is a “strong foundation for reform” in line with existing House and White House proposals. Obama touted the proposed creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency to prevent predatory loan practices, tougher regulations of derivatives trading and hedge funds, and new tools to break up failing financial firms to avoid a repeat of last year’s federal bailout of banks that were “too big to fail.”

“I urge those in the Senate who support these reforms to remain strong, to resist the pressure from those who would preserve the status quo, to stand up for their constituents and our country,” Obama said. “And I promise to use every tool at my disposal to see these reforms enacted.”