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Lawmakers Willing to Gamble on Public Anger Over Health Care

March 2010: Protests against the health care bill signed into law by President Obama, during a rally in front of the Statehouse in Providence, R.I.AP

You'll learn to like it.

That's the message from White House advisers and Democratic lawmakers to Americans opposed to the health insurance overhaul signed into law last week.

And they're willing to wager that come November, Americans will have done just that.

"As people learn what's actually in the bill, that six months from now, by election time, this is going to be a plus because the parade of horribles, particularly the worry that the average middle class person has that this is going to affect them negatively, will have vanished and they'll see that it'll affect them positively in many ways, " Sen. Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The new health care law goes into effect immediately, but many provisions won't be enacted any time soon, and while the Senate debate has ended, the public square offers a preview of the midterm campaign battle ahead.

According to a new Washington Post poll out Sunday, one in four people surveyed contacted their representative about health care during the last several months. Twenty-six percent of those surveyed said they are angry about the changes, up from 18 percent in August. On the opposite side, 15 percent said they're enthusiastic about the new law.

Overall, passage of the bill hasn't swayed public sentiment about it. Forty-six percent of those polled said they support the new law while 50 percent oppose it. The poll of 1,100 adults taken March 23-26 has a 3 percent margin of error.

But David Axelrod, President Obama's senior adviser, predicted once people get their benefits, they won't want to give them up. 

"Millions of small businesses this year will get tax credits for health insurance for their employees. Kids with pre-existing conditions will get coverage for the first time. They won't be excluded any more," Axelrod said on CNN. "If people really want to repeal those things, then go and make the case to the American people. After all, that's what elections are for."

Opponents say that's exactly what they are preparing for. Tea partiers on Saturday launched a series of rallies that began in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's hometown of Searchlight, Nev. On Sunday, Republican lawmakers warned that the law may have been debated in the halls of Congress but will be fought at home.

"This fight won't wind up being just in Washington. It's going to spread to every statehouse in the nation and we're going to have referendums on this bill through every state house in the nation," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Graham added that the law's costs won't hold up under scrutiny.

"It is a house of cards, it's a Ponzi scheme of the first order. It's going to blow up the deficit, it's going to affect every business, every family in this country, it was done by one party rule and it was a shame we had to go down this road," said Graham, who appeared with Schumer.

Already large companies have announced the costs they are getting hit with as a result of the new law. Large U.S. companies like AT&T that say they will get hit with billions of dollars in charges with the elimination of a tax deduction for drug benefits. 

But Valerie Jarrett, another of Obama's senior advisers, said the big companies will actually end up ahead.

"What they're going to have to write off is nothing compared to the enormous financial benefits to those very same companies by health insurance reform that will bring down their costs substantially," Jarrett said.

But Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said with health care, the federal government has just moved into ownership or control of 51 percent of the U.S. economy.

"Today, the federal government has taken either direct ownership or control of banks, the largest insurance company in the United States, AIG, Freddie and Fannie," she said. "The federal government now owns, Bob, over 50 percent of all home mortgages. Now the direct student loan industry. Chrysler, GM. And with the health care industry, that's an additional 18 percent of the private economy, which means government would be making decisions over our lives from cradle to the grave."

Bachmann added that the health insurance overhaul could cost the economy 5.5 million jobs.

"Just this week, we saw American businesses announce that Obamacare will cost them $14 billion. Here in Minnesota, Medtronic announced because of the new tax increases on medical devices, they could be looking at shedding an additional 1,000 jobs. Or 3-M, it will cost them potentially $90 million in the first quarter. ... That is not going to bring us back to economic health going forward but that's what you expect when you have massive tax increases, massive Medicare cuts, massive premium increases," she said.

Already, lawmakers are listening to constituents as they spend a couple weeks at home during Congress' Spring recess. Arizona Sen. John McCain announced a couple town halls meetings for this week. 

Democratic Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak held a two-hour town hall meeting on Sunday. It was supposed to be an opportunity for him to explain provisions of the law to constituents. Instead, he got an earful from voters who said the bill will bankrupt America and shred the limited government intent of the U.S. Constitution.

Fox News' Julie Kirtz contributed to this report.

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