DNC Chair Hails Obama, Health Care Reform

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine on "Face the Nation," Sunday, March 28, 2010. Democrat Chris Usher/CBS

On Sunday, former governor of Virginia and Chairman of the Democratic National Committee Tim Kaine told "Face the Nation" anchor Bob Schieffer that he thought the current GOP strategy of trying to repeal the new health care law was unwise.

"I don't think it will happen," he said. "I don't think Americans are angry people. I think Americans are upbeat, optimistic, can-do people. We're in a tough time. They want to see government that's working to obtain results. I don't think they want to see somebody who is calling the president anti-American, or a member of the Senate who says the main goal of health care should be to break the president."

He added, "This is about people and the problems they're experiencing. [Republicans] may want to push forward on a repeal of health care to tell small businesses you're not going to get tax credits to pay for insurance, to tell families you now can't keep children on your policy until you're 26, to tell folks that you're now subject to these abuses of the insurance industry. I think [Republicans would] be unwise to do it. I think the American public will reject it."

When asked about the tone of rhetoric surrounding the health care debate, Kaine said that both sides needed to be more civil with one another.


"One of the great things about this country is we can disagree in significant ways about important matters," said Kaine. "But we can do it in civil and appropriate ways. So when I saw the anger level last week, I wrote a letter to Chairman Steele and just said hey, let's do something good. Let's join together and issue a statement calling on Americans to be civil but also on our elected officials to model the right behavior. And it was interesting what happened. The RNC considered my request for four or five hours. They then called the office back to say they wouldn't sign on to the statement. And one minute later, they released a press statement just blasting the DNC that they sent around."

He added, "This week you saw the republicans say we're not going to cooperate with the president between now and the end of the year. The democrats are not saying we're not to cooperate. We're going to keep reaching out on everything and hopefully find common ground. The other side has just adopted a strategy of complete obstruction."

Kaine said that as DNC Chairman, he planned to publicly defend Democrats who voted for the health care bill.

"One of my jobs as party chair is I want to be on TV thanking our members and praising them for doing an important thing for the American public," he said. "Yes, we are out there vigorously promoting our members who did a very important thing for American families by enacting this reform which will provide a path to coverage, will provide security for those with insurance."

Kaine said that Democrats have talking points to discuss with constituents over the Easter recess just as Republicans have talking points for their members.

"We're planning on doing a lot of events this week to thank members, to support them. And to put out the real facts." He said that Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) claims the health care bill is a government takeover of health care, but is actually a curb on insurance companies.

"You know, we don't want insurance companies to be able to take people off their policies when they get sick or turn you down when you try to get a new job because of a pre-existing condition," said Kaine. "I don't know why the Republicans want to put insurance companies back in a position where they have this kind of whip hand over the American public. We want the doctors and the patients to make the decisions."

Finally, he said he thought that Republicans weren't taking enough action denouncing some of the violence and heated language that has taken place since President Obama signed the health care bill.

"When you, as some of the members do say, that this is Armageddon, you know, the biblical war at the end of the world, the battlefield where it takes place, you're sending a message to folks. When you're saying that you want to target members and you have a map of the United States and you put a gun site on members' districts, when the elected leadership feels comfortable yelling out 'You lie' or 'baby killer,' they're stoking anger. They need to stop it."
  • David Riedel

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