In his opening remarks on the Senate floor this morning, Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell jumped on yesterday’s devestating CNN poll that showed 61 percent of Americans oppose the Senate health care bill, to accuse Democrats of ignoring public opinion.
“What I keep hearing on the other side is no reference to what the American people think,” McConnell said. “I hear these arguments about making history. Well, I think ignoring the public is not a great way to make history.”
In addition to finding that 61 percent of the public opposes the bill, the poll also found that just 36 percent supported it. In response to other questions, 79 percent of respondents in the poll said they thought the bill would increase the deficit, and 85 percent said it would raise their taxes.
“We’re looking for one courageous member of the other side of the aisle, just one,” McConnell said, “to stand up and say he or she is not going to ignore the overwhelming opinions of the American people. He or she will not be so arrogant as to assume that we have the right answer here, and 61 percent of the American people somehow, don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in his opening remarks, said that he expected to hold two votes today related to the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending package that arrived from the House.
A deal has not yet been struck on when to hold votes on a number of health care related amendments.
Among the amendments being considered is one by Sen. Byron Dorgan to allow for reimportation of prescription drugs, which has attracted bipartisan support, but according to the Hill, has been delayed because of a deal between the White House and the pharmaceutical industry.
Republicans are also offering several tax-related amendments. One, by Sen. Mike Crapo, would make sure that the health care bill keeps with President Obama’s campaign pledge by stripping out all the taxes that would hit those making under $250,000 per year. Another, being offered by Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchinson and John Thune, would make sure that no taxes start being assessed until the benefits from the bill start being doled out.
Neither amendment will pass, because they each would unravel the existing legislation. Democrats need to raise taxes to pay for the bill, and the middle-class tax hike in the form of an insurance mandate is central to their plan. Also, taxes couldn’t be delayed until benefits start, because it would mess up the accounting gimmicks Democrats are using to achieve a more favorable score from the Congressional Budget Office. Under the current legislation, the government would begin collecting taxes in 2010, but the new benefits wouldn’t be offered until 2014 — that allowed Democrats to claim that the bill cost less than $900 billion under the CBO’s 2010 to 2019 budget window, and that it would lower the deficit. Changing this dynamic could lead to a CBO analysis saying the bill cost trillions, and would increase the deficit.
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