CONGRESS WATCH: Kirk and Dold Endorse Latest Republican Efforts to Undo Obamacare


By Laurence D. Schiller

The last Congress Watch column reviewed the GOP budget passed on a party-line vote a month ago and pointed out how 10th District Congressman Bob Dold and Illinois Senator Mark Kirk have conveniently passed over the draconian cuts made to social programs while telling their constituents that they did no such thing. (“Congress Watch:  Dold and Kirk Vote To Gut Medicare and Other Health and Social Programs, Increase Defense Spending, and Lower Taxes on the Wealthiest Americans,” Tenth News, May 2015.)

In a May 18th newsletter to constituents, Kirk defended his vote by stressing the cold black-and-white numbers of the budget rather than the pain it was going to cause. Apparently to Mark Kirk, balancing the budget on the backs of the middle class and working poor is just fine, as long as military spending isn’t cut. Paul Ryan couldn’t have stated it better.

Kirk also wrote of the budget: “It stands as a referendum against President Obama’s budget by laying out a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

Kirk’s glossary is as wrong as his facts.  A referendum is a direct vote by the electorate on a single political question.  That’s pretty much the opposite of a party-line budget vote in Congress.  The closest thing we’ve had to a referendum on Obamacare was the 2012 presidential election, which Obama won by millions of votes.  And polls show that if there were a national referendum on Obamacare today, approval of the Affordable Care Act would be overwhelming.

And note how Kirk repeats the tired line that the GOP has a plan to replace the ACA.  Yet no one, not Kirk, nor any one of the now nearly dozen declared Republican presidential candidates, has presented any alternative plan.  Certainly there’s nothing of the sort in the Republican budget Kirk supports.  Nor is any proposal to replace Obamacare on the agenda of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Like Kirk, Congressman Bob Dold, who already has voted to repeal the ACA some 30 times, refuses to quit his assault on this law. Most recently, Dold voted for HR 30, perversely called the “Save American Workers Act.”  It’s an anti-worker piece of legislation that increases the number of hours that employees must work to be covered by employer group health plans from 30 to 40 per week.

Like most in the Republican Party, Mark Kirk and Bob Dold do not believe that Americans have a right to affordable health insurance or affordable healthcare. And in the wake of the Supreme Court’s June 25 decision rejecting the most recent challenge to the ACA, neither Mark Kirk nor Bob Dold has even suggested that he intends to abandon efforts to repeal or gut the law. Don’t we in the 10th District have a right to better representation in Congress?

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