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Morning Bell: The White House Strikes Back

An overwhelming majority of Americans (72%) dont believe President Barack Obama will keep his promise to overhaul the health care system without adding to the federal deficit, according to a study released yesterday by the Quinnipiac University. According to Gallup: Americans are being asked to approve major new health care expenditures at a time when they are not yet convinced that the last massive outlay of government money the stimulus has made an impact.

Yet the White House and their allies are trying to convince the media that the anger at townhalls across the county is being manufactured by special interests in Washington. At a press conference, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called the protests phony, holding up a swatch of Astroturf to illustrate his point. And the White House is telling supporters to punch back twice as hard at anybody who dares to question their policies. Unfortunately, some Obama supporters are taking that call literally.

At a townhall last night in St. Louis, Kenneth Gladney, 38, a local conservative activist said he was attacked by Obama supporters, one of whom used a racial slur against him before the attack. From the emergency room at St. Johns Mercy Medical Center, Gladney, who is black, told the St. Louis Dispatch: It just seems theres no freedom of speech without being attacked. In Tampa, Florida, protester Barry Osteen was pushed in the face by Democratic Club Treasurer Karen Miracle, and union members allegedly assaulted another concerned citizen. Both of the events were organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Asked about the possibility of people concerned about Obama showing up at their event, in Tampa, SEIU spokeswoman Kim Diehl told the St. Petersburg Times: Were prepared. We have strategies to deal with it if it should come up.

As this video plainly shows, one of those strategies is to lock out dissenters while letting in purple- shirted SEIU members. The desire to silence dissent on Obamacare goes all the way to the top. At a Democratic rally in Virginia last night, the President told supporters: I dont want the folks who created the mess doing a lot of talking. I want them to just get out of the way so we can clean up the mess.

Not everyone on the left has been so quick to silence the opposition. In direct contradiction to claims by Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Claire McCaskill tweeted last night: I disagree that the people showing concern over some health care proposals are manufactured Real folks, strong opinions. And Sen. Ben Cardin told Fox News: People have strong views about health care reform. The overwhelming majority of Americans want to participate. They want to know how it affects them, and what it will do with their health insurance through what it will do with their health care costs. Those are legitimate questions.

Cardin and McCaskill are dead-on. The American people have every right to be concerned about taking a leftist turn on health care. Just look at France. The Wall Street Journal reports today that the soaring costs of Frances state health insurer, Assurance Maladie, are causing complaints from patients, doctors, and nurses that care is being rationed. Exploding costs and rationed health care are the exact same concerns that Americans are voicing about Obamacare at townhalls across the country. Instead of silencing their critics, the White House should begin listening to their concerns.

Quick Hits:

• Ten moderate Senate Democrats fromcoal and manufacturing states sent a letter to President Obama on Thursday saying they would not support any climate change bill that did not protect American industries from competition from countries that did not impose similar restraints on climate-altering gases.

• In the first major test of the White Houses trade policy toward China, the Obama administration is considering imposing tariffs on some Chinese-made tires that could effectively ban them from the United States.

• Unionized UPS workers claim UPS and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are forcing them to write letters to their lawmakers in support of more stringent labor rules for arch rival FedEx.

• According to Gallup, Americans are less favorable toward immigration than they were a year ago. 50% say immigration should be decreased, up from 39% last year.

• The American economy lost 247,000 jobs in July, and the unemployment rate fell slightly, to 9.4%

 

Conn Carroll is Assistant Director, Strategic Communications for The Heritage Foundation.

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