Last week, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) set off a political storm when he said that if Republicans can defeat health care reform it would be President Obama’s “Waterloo” because it would “break him.” Since then, some Republicans have sought to distance themselves from DeMint’s view that defeating health care would yield political advantages for the GOP.
But Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) isn’t shying away from revealing his honest feelings. Appearing on Janet Parshall’s radio show yesterday, Inhofe argued that the defeat of President Clinton’s health care reform “started the demise of Bill Clinton that led to the 1994 Republican takeover of the House and the Senate.” He then added that he is now “tracking the demise” of Obama’s health care plans and it is making him “optimistic”:
INHOFE: They ought to know, they ought to know from history. This is a losing proposition for them. And for those out there who believe, that would like to have something optimistic to look at, we are plotting the demise on a week by week basis of where Bill Clinton was in 1993 and where Obama is today and his demise ratio is greater than Clinton’s was in 1993. So, he’s trying to do the same things, except more extreme.
Inhofe also appeared on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show yesterday, where he was asked if Republicans had the votes “to block health care, the radical stuff in the Senate.” Inhofe said he thought they did:
INHOFE: Oh, I think so. I really do. In fact, there’ll be a lot of Democrats. You know, I liken it to the cap and trade thing. Now that’s the one that I’ve been kind of in charge of for ten years, and we know where we are on that now. We know that if, as long as people keep talking the way they are right now, we’re going to defeat it. They only have 34 votes. They need 60 votes. I’d say health care right now is somewhere in the neighborhood of, they have maybe 45 votes. But every day, they lose votes, because people find out what it is, what it’s going to do, and what it’s not going to do. When you tell people that the mortality rate in Canada is 25% higher for breast cancer, 18% higher for prostate cancer, you know, they say why in the world would we emulate a system like that? This is life threatening. And so we have all the issues on our side on this thing, and I think, you know, I just hope the President keeps talking about it, keeps trying to rush it through. We can stall it. And that’s going to be a huge gain for those of us who want to turn this thing over in the 2010 election.
Later in his interview with Hewitt, Inhofe also revealed why the GOP strategy to “slow down” health care is really an effort to “kill it.” “If he is unsuccessful — which I anticipate and will predict he is — on getting a vote prior to the August recess, then I would say there’s no way in the world they’re going to get this done this year,” said Inhofe. “And next year would not be any easier.”
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) released this statement:
Slowly but surely the Republicans are revealing their true strategy on health care: partisans gamesmanship comes before getting something done. If Republicans believe doing nothing will ingratiate themselves with the American people, they have not learned a single lesson from the last two elections. Their do nothing approach is why health care costs have skyrocketed, and it’s why Republicans are in such a bad place today. This strategy is bad politics, but it is also a deeply troubling way to govern.