Durbin Eager to Defend Merits of Health Care Law Against Repeal Efforts

Peoria Journal-Star
March 31, 2010

The second-highest ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate said he's looking forward to a possible debate on the repeal of President Obama's new health-care law.

"I tell you what, I can't wait for this debate," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said Wednesday in Peoria.

"When the president signed this bill, it automatically that day created a tax credit for 144,000 Illinois small businesses, and if they offer health insurance and have fewer 25 employees, we're going to give them tax credit of up to 35 percent. The repealers are going to take it away," he said.

"I want small business to get a helping hand to pay for health insurance and I want Medicare to have a longer life. We added 10 years to the life of Medicare and gave $250 to every senior who has high prescription drug bills. The repealers want to take that away. That's a good debate," Durbin said, adding that he expects an interesting election in November.

Whether such a debate to repeal the new health care law, which essentially would follow party lines, will take place remains to be seen.

The Obama administration was criticized recently by Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the committee responsible for electing GOP senators this fall.

He said "the focus really should be on the misplaced priorities of the administration" and Congress' Democratic leaders.

"The No. 1 concern of the public is jobs and people losing their homes," he said. "The administration has been obsessing on this health care bill."

Asked if he advises Republican Senate candidates to call for repealing the law, Cornyn said: "Candidates are going to test the winds in their own states. ... In some places, the health care bill is more popular than others."

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which strongly opposed the health bill's passage, said Tuesday: "While some discuss repeal, the U.S. chamber believes a more effective approach is to work through all available and appropriate avenues - regulatory, legislative, legal and political - to fix the bill's flaws and minimize its harmful impacts."

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady said Tuesday that Democrats no longer can "deny that their health care plan will hurt job creation in Illinois. Tax increases for job creators and families, as well as the Medicare mandates on states to pay for it, will do nothing to help create jobs for the 12 percent of Illinoisans who remain unemployed."

In a news release, the Illinois Republican Party cited Illinois-based employers that announced higher costs associated with health care: Boeing, Illinois Tool Works, Caterpillar and John Deere.

Obama said last week he would relish a Republican bid to repeal the new law.

"My attitude is, go for it," Obama said in Iowa on Friday. "If these congressmen in Washington want to come here in Iowa and tell small-business owners that they plan to take away their tax credits and essentially raise their taxes, be my guest."