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Memo from Conservative Activists Warns Against Obama Reform Plans

By Dan Eggen
A group of veteran conservative activists have added their voices to the fight against President Obama's health-care reform efforts, writing in a memo released today that Democratic plans will "bankrupt the country and exacerbate unemployment during these difficult times."

The brief, single-page memo is the latest in a series of talking-points documents to emerge as part of the GOP's intensifying attacks on proposed reforms to the health-care system, which many conservatives have begun referring to derisively as "Obamacare."

The missive is signed by a dozen longtime voices in the conservative movement, including Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist, National Taxpayers Union head Duane Parde and former Reagan budget director James C. Miller III.

The memo focuses primarily on economic arguments, asserting that the overall reform plan will be "a job killer" that will "put America on the brink of economic meltdown" and end up "burdening our children and grandchildren with extra debt."

"It is imperative that rationally-minded Republicans and center-right Democrats join together to bring sanity to this debate," the authors write.

The memo's release follows a prime-time press conference on Wednesday night by Obama, who sought to reassure Americans that they could keep their current health plans if they wished and that the costs of doing nothing are far worse. Obama also said he would not sign health-care reform legislation that adds to the federal deficit.

Seeing opportunity in Obama's sagging poll numbers and increasing nervousness among Americans, Republicans have stepped up their efforts this week to derail the Democratic push. One memo from GOP consultant Alex Castellanos making the rounds this month urges Republicans to cast Obama's reform effort as a risky experiment that "will further bankrupt the country with trillions more in deficit spending" that will "put government in charge of the doctors you can see and the types of treatment you can receive."

The new memo from Norquist and others sounds similar themes, and also seeks to tie health-care reforms to the uneven results so far from Obama's $787 billion stimulus package. The memo is being sent to conservative activists around the country, and will be followed by a letter to members of Congress next week, according to Greg Mueller of CRC Public Relations in Alexandria, Va.

A copy of the memo follows:

James C. Miller III, former Reagan Budget Director
Duane Parde, President, National Taxpayers Union
Tom Winter, Editor in Chief, Human Events
Tom Schatz, President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform
David McIntosh, former U.S. Representative, Indiana
Kenneth Blackwell, former Treasurer, State of Ohio
Alfred Regnery, Publisher, American Spectator
Brent Bozell, President, Media Research Center
Richard Viguerie, Chairman,
Jim Martin, President, 60 Plus Association
Marion Edwyn Harrison, President, Free Congress Foundation


RE: The Obama-Pelosi-Reid healthcare reform bill, if passed, would have catastrophic effects on the economy due to its squeeze on employers and its addition to the already alarming federal deficit.

It is imperative that rationally-minded Republicans and center-right Democrats join together to bring sanity to this debate. Don't allow the government to bankrupt the country and exacerbate unemployment during these difficult economic times while at the same time burdening our children and grandchildren with extra debt. Call your Congressmen and Senators and let them know that we cannot afford to kill jobs with another expensive and reckless bill.

ISSUE IN BRIEF: Out of all the projects from Obama's spending spree, the healthcare bill would be the most massive spending bill yet. Moreover, it would be the largest tax increase in American history, while still adding to our nation's record debt. By adding the cost of this irresponsible health care bill to the mix, we will have created a deficit of at least $1.8 trillion, which will bury our children and grandchildren in red ink for decades to come. The bill basically does two things to the nation's health care system:

A. Increases the cost of care to consumers, and
B. Reduces the quality of care for patients

The bill would be a job killer and put America on the brink of economic meltdown.

1. The bill would add a 1% income tax to all individuals earning over $280,000, 1.5% for individuals over $400,000. For those making over $800,000, the bill would increase taxes by a startling 5.4%.

2. When combined with state, local, and Medicare taxes, in 39 out of the 50 states there would be income taxes of over 50% for top earners.

3. This bill creates a pay-or-play tax, whereby those without acceptable healthcare coverage would pay a tax of 2.5% of their income.

4. Government would tax employers 8% of the average wages for employees for all time when the employer was not offering health insurance coverage, with an exception for companies with a payroll under $250,000. This tax gives direct incentives for employers not to hire workers in a time when unemployment has risen to nearly 10%. This tax would destroy jobs.

5. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that healthcare reform would add over $1 trillion in additional spending over 10 years. In this era of record deficits, we cannot afford to burden future generations with even more debt.

6. CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf stated on July 16th that the future costs of healthcare will increase over time if the bill is passed in spite of the Administration contending that the plan would cut costs.

7. Congress is already interfering with business and raising taxes at an alarming rate: the House's recently passed cap and trade bill will have the effect of taxing businesses and adding to unemployment, while penalizing American families over $175 per year in higher energy prices.

8. Previous legislation, such as the American Recovery and Re-Investment Act (The Stimulus Package) has not yielded the results as promised as unemployment has risen by 2% in the months since its passage.

By Web Politics Editor  |  July 23, 2009; 12:55 PM ET
Categories:  Health Care  
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This country is already bankrupted,We were left with this mess because nothing was done before this time. Now is the time to get this done. No excuses will I and others except. If you are so conversative, why have you let this go on for this long...or was it becaue you are soooo conservative. Get off the fence make a decision before it trickle down to your family.

Posted by: Panthress1 | July 24, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

In a country where free speech is a hallmark, yes conservative activists have a right to give a warning.

But as Bill Bennet, former Education Secretary said recently in reference to Reagan, and how he used his political capital, power is based on one question: who won the election? Now it is Barack Obama.

Not to mention, the Democrats control every level of power at the Federal Level. If they fail to navigate obstacles that exist to get what they want, then let the 'activists' roam freely, because those who have the clout, don't seem to know how to use it.

President Obama this is your moment... heed Machiavelli and get what you want. Playing nice carries no dividends, particularly when the polls start heading in another direction.

Posted by: Victoria5 | July 24, 2009 2:24 AM | Report abuse

We need to change the incentives in the existing system to control costs and provide coverage for everyone. Some ideas on how to do this are posted here:

Posted by: neal9 | July 24, 2009 12:41 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: unpluggedboodah | July 23, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Don't let the door hit you on the way out!

Posted by: JakeD | July 23, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Yeah! Another victory for sloths everywhere!
JakeD - nice trading barbs w/you. Gotta go!

Posted by: JohnQuimby | July 23, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Congress is exempting itself from its healthcare plan and crippling private insurance
A comprehensive, free market plan exists that transitions those on government programs to a new plan while private business builds what those on Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP need. Then the new government plan is PHASED OUT for private plans. That plan also must support itself (no “deep pockets”) and it is MEANS-TESTED (no free rides on the taxpayer’s dime.)
The plan is catastrophic care that is means-tested with a prevention focus. It would be open to all citizens while more private plans are created. That will happen because regulations are drastically reduced and plans sold across state lines. Private plans also get tax credits to enroll the poor and the sick.
Unlike ALL the UHC plans, ways to get more doctors and nurses is included without bankrupting people.
Please check it out:

Posted by: heyteachkp | July 23, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

WOO HOO! Obama loses this battle. Dingy Harry Reid just announced the heathcare vote will NOT happen before August recess!

Posted by: JakeD | July 23, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

JakeD said:

"Why do illegal aliens get LOTS of government benefits in the first place?"

Could it be that they get hired and pay taxes here?

"How about their anchor babies?"

You mean the babies that are entitled by US law to citizenship? I support immigration reform. Why didn't GOP leaders support President Bush when he tried to pass it?

"I read through the entire bill and didn't see anything restricting the "public option" to U.S. citizens only.

Then maybe we should fix it so that it doesn't apply to everyone in the world.

"You claim that we don't know what the final bill will cost. Obviously, Congress hasn't passed one yet, but the CBO estimate is based on H.R. 3200. Have you even read the bill?"

Sorry to be snarky JakeD, but the GOP memo is proof that Grover Norquist, Ken Blackwell and a host of others haven't read it either.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | July 23, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse


Why do illegal aliens get LOTS of government benefits in the first place? How about their anchor babies? I read through the entire bill and didn't see anything restricting the "public option" to U.S. citizens only. You claim that we don't know what the final bill will cost. Obviously, Congress hasn't passed one yet, but the CBO estimate is based on H.R. 3200. Have you even read the bill?

Posted by: JakeD | July 23, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Great news conference by President Obama as usual.

It is obvious that the media elites, with their multimillion dollar salaries, are opposed to health care reform and thus the lukewarm reception last night.

Fortunately Obama is smarter than them and that’s why he’s going right over the media’s head to reach the American people directly.

Americans know Obama is right, and he will be remembered as the one President who made health care affordable for all Americans. It will be an achievement of historic proportions.

That’s the audacity of hope in action.

The journalists, for the most part, kept asking the same stupid questions: how are "we" (insert: we, with our 6 and 7 figure salaries) going to pay for it? what do "we"(insert: we, with our wasteful cadillac insurance plans) are going to have to give up?

They sounded like a bunch of children who didn't want to give up their lollypop.

What a shame.

Good thing that daddy Obama put them in their place. It was hilarious to see how frightened the first questioner was after Obama's opening. Simply priceless.

Posted by: politicjock | July 23, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

JakeD Said:


How many of those 47+ million are illegal aliens or younger, healthy Americans who CHOOSE to not spend money on something they don't want or need?

1)Why would illegals be included in a program for citizens?

2) People don't stay young and healthy.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | July 23, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Jack Smith:

You keep posting that same (word-for-word) message on every thread, but I've read the bill myself -- did you know that the IRS is going to fine anyone who doesn't get "acceptable" healthcare insurance up to $5,000 -- why don't you do the same, and then we can discuss it.

Posted by: JakeD | July 23, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

OK -

a)How much did your medical insurance premiums increase this year.
b)How much did your earnings go up this year?
c)Subtract the difference.
d)Demand health care reform.

2)What are "top earners"? The other 99% of us want to know. The "top earners" shouldn't be surprised that their formerly insured employees want their benefits back.

3)Showing up at a hospital emergency room to demand public services isn't fair to everybody who paid in to the system.

4) This is a totally false conclusion. Unemployment is at 10% with no affordable health care options. If the GOP were credible we'd be enjoying prosperity AND affordable care and President McCain would be taking a victory lap.

5)This "government" spending canard ignores that it's always your money buying your care. The fact that the government can purchase it for less is referenced by insurance companies who admit they can't compete.

6) We don't know what the final bill will cost. Congress hasn't passed one yet and CBO is best guessing.

7) A few selected facts leading to a false conclusion. We'll have time to yell about that later.

8)Stimulus spending is credited around the world with stabilizing the central banks of the EU and North America. Canada's central bank is already declaring the recession is over with growth of over 1 percent by year end.

GOP activists are largely responsible for the claim that stimulus has failed. But since it was originally written and passed under Bush and Paulson, one could easily wonder why the GOP doesn't point out that without their timely spending package things would be far worse.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | July 23, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse


The healthcare reform bill released by the House Of Representatives is an excellent bill as I understand it. It's a bill with a strong, robust, government-run public option, and an intelligent, reasonable initial funding plan to cover almost all of the American people. It is carefully written, and thoughtfully constructed, informed, prudent and wise. This bill will save trillions of dollars, and millions of your lives. It is also now supported by the AMA.

This is the type of bill that all Americans can feel good about. And this is the type of bill that has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of healthcare for all Americans. Rich, middle class and poor a like. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and all other party affiliations. This bill has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life of every American.

The house healthcare bill should be viewed as the minimum GOLD STANDARD by which all other proposed healthcare legislation should be judged. All supporters of true high quality healthcare reform should now place all your support behind this healthcare reform bill released by the United States House Of Representatives, as the minimum Gold standard for healthcare reform in America.

You should all now support this bill with all your might, and all of your unrelenting tenacity. This healthcare bill is a VERY, VERY GOOD! bill for all of the American people. Fight tooth, and nail for every bit of this bill if you have too. Be aggressive, creative, and relentless for this bill.

From this time forward, go BIGGER and DEEPER with the American people every day until passage of healthcare reform with a robust, government-run public option.

FIGHT!! like your life and the lives of your loved ones depends on it. BECAUSE IT DOES!


Senator Bernie Sanders on healthcare (

God Bless You

Jack Smith — Working Class

Posted by: JackSmith1 | July 23, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse


How many of those 47+ million are illegal aliens or younger, healthy Americans who CHOOSE to not spend money on something they don't want or need?

Posted by: JakeD | July 23, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

The argument for reform most often is that those who do not have health care coverage use health care resources in the most expensive way -- ER -- and that is driving total care cost up. I agree we need health care reform. I do not agree that health care coverage gets you health care reform.

The homeless, chronically poor, extremely rural, do not get care because they have coverage.

Among those who can afford it, get it. Follow something liek the Mass. plan. But this plan is seriously flawed and fails to accomplish anything of real substance.

Posted by: BRASH1 | July 23, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

The current status of healthcare in America:

There ar 47+ million people uninsured. Today it is virtually impossible to have a primary care physician without having health insurance. Paying for your treatment by cash or credit card usually isn’t good enough to become a patient of the practice. The uninsured usually wind up in emergency rooms or “emergency clinics” which can treat your cough or flu symptoms for Visa or Mastercard. We all pay for those hospital emergency room visits.

If you are uninsured you cannot get insurance if you have a “previously existing condition”. Everyone over 50 falls into these categories. Who hasn’t had something? Ideally, insurance companies want only younger, healthy customers.

If you lose your job you wind up on COBRA which is usually good for 18 months. It is expensive (compared to what you were paying when you were employed) - of course being out of work doesn’t help pay the premium. After COBRA you can usually buy a policy if you have no break in coverage. It happened to me - cost $1,120 per month - just for me. Luckily I needed it for only 7 months.

Millions are “under insured” - having say a 50% co-pay for hospital stays. Have your appendix out and you will receive a bills for tens of thousands of dollars. Health care costs a responsible for 40% of all personal bankruptcies.

Hospitals routinely overcharge for services - they settle for a relatively small percentage of the total from insurance companies and Medicare but not from individuals.

Millions of us over 65 would be uninsured without Medicare - that “socialist” program that “interferes” between doctors and patients, rations medical care, decides who gets what treatment etc. All seniors know its bunk - Medicare, the single payer system works just fine. No profit making insurance company in the world would cover us.

Capitalism 101 dictates that a profit making health insurance company will try to increase revenue each year by raising premiums, reduce expenses by increasing deductibles, renegotiate regularly with hosptials and doctors to reduce the amounts paid for services, cull their insurance customers by dropping sick and old people, not insure sick and old people individually to begin with etc. Note the tens of millions of dollars of compensation paid to health insurance company CEOs.

Thats the current situation........without a public option insurance reform is just more B. S.

Posted by: toritto | July 23, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

How about you respond to the actual 1-8 points in the memo?

Posted by: JakeD | July 23, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Keep up the fight Mr. President, we will win. We need Health Care Reform Now. People do not under estimate the President and the true will of the people. The people want health care reform and they want a public option and they need it now.

Why are others afraid of the public option? If the public have free choice why is the private sector afraid to compete against the public option? Is it because the public option will be better in quality while being less expensive? Yes it will. To compete the private plans will have to change to be competitive and that change will mean less profits. Reduction in profits means a reduction in bonuses and campaign contributions. The private sector wants the status quo of increase profits and out of pocket costs for the consumer while decreasing the quality and availability of health care services. The public option will reduce cost for everyone while increasing services for everyone. If anyone is against the public option they are against really improving Health Care and true reform.

Push Congress to get this passed now. The President is right; this is not the time to delay. The delay tactic is really the destroy tactic. To delay is to kill the Health Care Reform, period. The GOP does not have an alternative Health Care Reform plan but to stay with the status quo. Now is the time to capture the opportunity of finally winning the fight. We must strike the knockout blow now and finally win. Do it Now!

Posted by: kg4thepeople | July 23, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

The far-right base has total control over mainstream Republican,s so expect this bizarre rhetoric on "Obamacare" to come to a TV set near you very soon...

Posted by: parkerfl1 | July 23, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

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