An all out effort to get President Barack Obama’s health care proposal through Congress by September is beginning, with the proposal facing tough challenges in both the Senate and House. A House vote could come this week in advance of Congress’ August recess, but the future of Senate legislation is in doubt.
Northeast Missouri Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO-9), a Republican, sees the conflict in the House as disagreement among Democrats.
"The liberals are concerned because they want a government option – they absolutely, positively don’t want a private option," said Luetkemeyer in an interview with the Missourinet. "The moderates are concerned because they’re worried about how we’re going to pay for it and they also are not sure about the public option. And the conservatives are really concerned about how we’re going to pay for it and they want to make sure there is a private option left on the table."
Luetkemeyer and his Republican colleagues have been accused of opposing Democratic health care reform efforts in a bid to hand President Obama a political defeat.
"If you define defeat as taking this bad bill and making it completely over into a bill that’s acceptable to us – Yeah," said Luetkemeyer. "If you define defeat as taking this bill and completely defeating it and not having anything in substitute of that – No."
Luetkemeyer believes the goal of President Obama and liberal Democrats is to change the health care system in such a way as to guarantee that private insurance cannot compete.
"I think that choice by the people is important," said Luetkemeyer. "But when you choose between the government program and a private program there is no choice because what they’re doing is undercutting the private program by subsidizing the federal program and, therefore, enticing everybody away from the private program and eventually bankrupting it."
The push is on for a House vote before the August recess. Luetkemeyer says the rush is designed to get out in front of criticism that many Democrats can expect when they return home to their districts across the country.
"If we go home for the August recess and the American people have a chance to look this bill over and see how bad it is they’re all going to tell their Congressmen, ‘Do not vote for this thing,’" said Luetkemeyer. "And that’s what he (President Obama) is trying to avoid. He’s trying to avoid the people being able to see what’s really happening here. To me, that’s the opposite of what should be going on. We should be able to get the support of the people behind this measure so it’s something everybody wants."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has already said his chamber will not vote on health care legislation before the fall.