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Reid faces criticism after comparing health-care reform opponents to civil rights opponents

By Paul Kane
Senior Republicans lit into Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) Monday after he likened GOP opponents of proposed health-care legislation to those who opposed abolishing slavery, fought against a woman's right to vote and blocked civil rights laws 50 years ago.

In a prepared floor speech that began Monday's debate on health care, Reid said the nearly universal Republican opposition to health insurance reform was akin to the efforts to block some of the nation's most important hallmark civil rights reforms of the past 150 years.

"You think you've heard these same excuses before, you're right. In this country there were those who dug in their heels and said: Slow down, it's too early, let's wait, things aren't bad enough about slavery. When women want to vote, slow down, there will be a better day to do that," Reid said.

A flurry of denunciations from Republicans followed, including an angry rebuttal from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has emerged as the GOP's leading opponent to health-care reform legislation since losing the presidency to Obama last year. McCain demanded that Reid return to the Senate floor to "if not apologize, certainly clarify his remarks."

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, the highest ranking African American in the GOP, called Reid "far out of bounds with his absurd and offensive comments."

"Reid has now compared his quest to pass the Obama-Pelosi government takeover of health care to the effort to end slavery.... To suggest that passing this horrible bill is anything akin to ridding our country of slavery is terribly offensive and calls into question Mr. Reid's suitability to lead," Steele said in a statement.

Reid has declined to apologize, suggesting that Republicans will be "on the wrong side of history" for their efforts to obstruct health-care reform, just as lawmakers stood athwart history yelling stop in past civil rights debates.

"For the past eight days they've done nothing but obstruct health care on the Senate floor and throughout this year have played politics with this and virtually every other issue of importance to the American people. Today's feigned outrage is nothing but a ploy to distract from the fact they have no plan," Jim Manley, Reid's spokesman, said late Monday.

Reid is not the first lawmaker to engage in heated rhetoric during the health-care debate. In a speech opposing the legislation as a government takeover of the health-care industry, Rep. Michele Bachmann said it would lead to "nothing more than slavery." And conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh said the Obama administration has "a health-care logo that's right out of Adolf Hitler's playbook."

Reid has faced trouble for his sharp criticisms of Republicans before. In 2005 he called President Bush a "loser" while teaching a civics class to a group of high school students in Nevada. Earlier that year, he also called the president "a liar" in an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press." Reid went on to call the White House and apologize for his "loser" insult -- but he pointedly refused to apologize for calling Bush a "liar" for selling the 2003 invasion of Iraq based on what is now considered faulty intelligence.

Reid's health-care remarks as they relate to slavery, women's suffrage and the civil rights movement follow:

"Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all Republicans have come up with is this: Slow down, stop everything, let's start over. You think you've heard these same excuses before, you're right. In this country, there were those who dug in their heels and said, Slow down, it's too early. Let's wait, things aren't bad enough about slavery. When women want to vote, slow down, there will be a better day to do that. The day isn't quite right. This body was on the verge of guaranteeing civil rights to everyone, regardless of the color of their skin, some senators resorted to the same filibuster threats that we hear today. History is repeating itself before our eyes. There are now those who don't think it is the right time to reform health care. If not now, when?"

By Web Politics Editor  |  December 7, 2009; 6:50 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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We cannot afford this boondoggle of a bill. If Sen.Reid wants to talk slavery, we the American People, regardless of race, color, creed, religion, sexual preference, or national origin are tax slaves for the first quarter of every year. If health care and cap and trade pass we will be tax slaves for even longer.
Insurance reforms can be passed for free.
Health insurance companies should be allowed to sell across state lines, not allowed a waiver of antitrust laws, make it portable and give incentives for insuring those with preexisting conditions.
These fast measures with lower prices by increasing competition. I can buy a hamburger at Burger King for a dollar because they have to compete with McDonalds. Auto insurance companies compete hard and that is why prices are more reasonable. Think Geico v. Allstate ads day and night on television.
Medicare will suffer, rationing and complicated rules will be the order of the day if the nanny government takes over.

Posted by: mharwick | December 7, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

We were wondering who REALLY wrote the House and Senate bills. We knew they were NOT written by our representatives. Our congressmen and senators have not even read them! They are just being manipulated, coerced and bribed into passing them.

Now we know the guidelines for Obamacare are in the book “Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win,” written before Obama was even elected. Who wrote the book? Robert Creamer, a convicted felon who, inspired by Saul Alinsky, wrote the book while in prison.

The guidelines for Obamacare are in this book! He suggests that a bogus health crisis be created! He suggests – point by point -- the lies, manipulation, intimidation, and coercion we have witnessed from Obama and his accomplices to force us to swallow the Obamacare scam!

This convicted felon, Robert Creamer, was among the “distinguished” guests at the dinner party where the Salahis were declared “intruders.” Creamer, on the other hand, seems to have been in the list of “distinguished” guests.

Posted by: AntonioSosa | December 7, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

You are right, mharwick. Obamacare = socialism/Marxism and socialism/Marxism = SLAVERY. Obama and his accomplices are working hard to ENSLAVE us with criminal scams like Obamacare and cap and trade.

Of course, in typical Orwellian doublespeak, Reid would accuse those who want to abolish the SLAVERY of Obamacare as being opposed to abolishing slavery! It's just the opposite. We want to abolish the SLAVERY of Obamacare!

Posted by: AntonioSosa | December 7, 2009 11:38 PM | Report abuse

As usual, when someone doesn't agree with this administration, they are called a racist. Unfortunately, this is a tactic we have seen again, and again, whenever this administration wants to avoid any discussion of the facts. Reid wants to enact another government entitlement program? Fine, but give people the good stuff. Give them the same health care you get, Senator. Oh. no, he says, they aren't good enough for that- let's just give them the one where they have to go wait for hours at the state slum hospital, and have to fill out hours of paperwork to prove they are sufficiently poor to be given Medicaid garbage treatment. These people are giving you lip service, America. They want your vote, and that's it. If they have to raise the national debt to pay for all the give away programs that buy them a little more time in office, oh well, that's not their problem- let our children, and grandchildren pay for it. The important thing is that all the Washington big shots get to wear laurel leaves, and have flowers thrown in front of them wherever they walk. These short sighted demagogues are leading us all to hell, lined with flowery speeches about how much they really do care about the little people.

Posted by: davideconnollyjr | December 8, 2009 2:43 AM | Report abuse

Harry Reid should apologize.

In 1965 it was the Republicans who provided the needed votes to pass the Civil Rights Act after a large portion of the Democratic Party refused to support the legislation.

In 1861 it was the Republicans who supported the efforts to outlaw the institution of slavery and it was the Democrats who supported the practice.

Apologize Harry and then resign!

Posted by: mwhoke | December 8, 2009 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Reid has it wrong again and lacks the integrity to make it right! Republicans fought slavery and for the Civil Rights Act.

Reid needs to retire to his Casa Del Illeglas in Nevada to take care of HIS illegals that he supports. After all, he's made his position clear; he favors ILLEGALS over Americans!

Posted by: TexRancher | December 8, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

"A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself." - Joseph Pulitzer

Posted by: MrTruth | December 8, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Reid is becoming an over-emotional demagogue, which is fine if you're the majority whip in the House, but not if you're the Leader of the Senate, where compromise is king. He'll likely get called on the carpet again by Obama for this.

Posted by: RambleOn | December 8, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Never in the history of this country has the federal government required individuals to use their own money and buy a specific product or face fines or jail. The health care reform bill is the largest unconstitutional federal power grab we have seen in ages. The right to purchase insurance of your choice--a Cadillac plan, an employer plan, minimal insurance, or none at all is a right reserved for individuals or possibly the states but not the federal government. It is the health care bill, not opposition to it, that enslaves us.

Posted by: sam38 | December 8, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I don't care what party label is on a person: right is right and wrong is wrong.

The Democrats who stonewalled on abolishing slavery were just as big of jerks as the Republicans stonewalling health care reform now.

People are filtering Reid's comments through their political bias. Reid is talking about being on the wrong side of history! He is not equating an anti-health care stance to slavery. He is equating it to stonewalling progress and being wrong.

Calm down, put your hate aside for for 2 seconds, and listen to the words the man is saying.

Posted by: DSC2 | December 8, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Both mwhoke and TexRancher have it wrong, because the parties have changed. Any Republican who voted for civil rights would be a "RINO" in todays party. All the Southern Democrats (Dixiecrats, remember that term?) were the ones who opposed civil rights. They and most of Texas are now the new Republicans- for big deficits, (pass the Medicare drug benefit without paying for, good idea to enlarge the deficit).
The Republicans used to be the party of Lincoln, who ended slavery. That is why the South was historically Democratic. And KKK. Now the South is Republican.
Now they are in the racist republican party. Still KKK. And against anything a Black President proposes or tries to get accomplished.

Posted by: Bak1 | December 8, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Reid is approaching senility and needs to be removed from his leadership role. He is no leader.

Posted by: Kansas28 | December 8, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

The irony of course is that it was the Democratic Party that supported the institution of slavery in Antebellum America and it was the Republicans who championed Free Soil and Free Labor. It was Lincoln's (GOP) election that ultimately led Southern Democrats to opt for secession.

Posted by: SUMB44 | December 8, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I would like to pose this question to any Senator worth their salt (assuming the senator is not a attorney). Why is TORT REFORM not a major component of this bill? Studies performed by and that liability insurance costs are approaching nearly one third of the operating expenses for specialty care physicians, units and facilities. Aside from medical provider costs, insurance carriers such as Humana Health Plans state that their costs of medical liability and defensive medicine accounts for nearly 10 cents out of every premium dollar collected (verified). Compare that to Humana’s reported pharmaceutical claims of 15 cents out of every premium dollar collected. Or better yet, 21 cents out of every premium dollar collected is paid back to physicians for physician treatments. Without TORT REFORM, medical provider costs will never drop.

Posted by: mikeoliphant | December 8, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Reid is right on the money. Universal health care should be a civil right for any American. The Republicans, thank God, are marginalizing themselves more and more. As the country becomes younger, browner and more gay, the whining, facist, racist hypocrites of the right become ever more irrelevant.

Posted by: Seeclear | December 8, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Reid just hit the nail on the head hard. These freak heads must feel it and it hurt and rightfully so.

Posted by: lhao333 | December 8, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Forcing someone to pay for something that should be optional sounds like slavery to me. Reid is right in comparing this issue to slavery, but wrong on which side he thinks he's on.

Posted by: RealTexan1 | December 8, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Harry!!

Loved your comment inferring that those who oppose health care "reform" are equivalent to those who opposed freeing the slaves!! You have such poor taste in making comparisons one wonders how you achieved your "exalted position" in the Senate.

Oh, and by the way, Harry... the first REPUBLICAN President, Abraham Lincoln, was the one who issued the Emancipation Proclamation!! Does that make it the Democrats of the day who opposed freeing the slaves??

Posted by: Greg_12 | December 8, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

There is nothing funnier than rightwingnut trollers for the conservative, southern-dominated Republican Party acting like they have anything in common besides a name with Republicans of 1860.

You droolers love to throw around the term RINO, but now you want to try to connect to big-government, northern-based Republicans of 150 years ago.

LOL too funny.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | December 8, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Once again the Democrats demonstrate their hypocrisy. They whine about name calling and insults, but they waste no time when it comes to attacking any who disagree with their warped view of life. So far, those who feel that a more conservative approach to life, have been accused of being terrorists, estremists, NAZI's and now slavers. Well, I fall into the category of being conservative, but rather than being a person who falls into any of the categories that the Democrats have used to describe me, I am a 22 year Army Veteran, a trained Sociologist, and an advocate for civil rights. But unlike the liberal Democrats, I am an advocate for ALL people, not just the minorities who have bought into the propaganda spouted byt left wing policitians like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, who only advocate for special rights for their supporters, most of whom are lackys who are addicted to government redistribution of other peoples earned wealth. If Reid beleives that I am any of the names he has applied then IMHO, Reid is merely a low life SOB, who more of a poltical DC oxygen thief than a national leader.

Posted by: jonweiss1 | December 8, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Give 'em all hell Harry!

We The People are with you and we will defeat the republican jihad on America!

Over two terms of the, "republican reign of error", these failed republican war criminals had no problem spending a TRILLION dollars to kill 1,339,771 Iraqis, mostly innocent non-combatant women and children.

Now they're against legislation that would save the lives of 45 THOUSAND innocent American infants, toddlers, children, teens, young adults, women, men, and elderly US Citizens!

The republican'ts are now more dangerous to US Citizens than al-Quaeda!

Their war on health care reform is conclusive proof that the republican't party, it's vastly failed leadership, hypocritically moronic media lackeys, demented constituents, and self serving corporatist agenda are not only the sworn enemy of 45 THOUSAND innocent American infants, toddlers, children, teens, young adults, women, men, and elderly US Citizens.

They are the proven enemy of our Nation, our Constitution, and The American People!

If we can afford an illegitimate pre-emptive republican war without end, we can and must afford to save the lives of 45,000 US Citizens who will die without needed health care insurance.

Regardless of party affiliation, failure by ANY Legislator to save these innocent American lives, will never be forgiven or forgotten! The avoidable DEATHS of 45 THOUSAND US Citizens will be AVENGED at the polls.

The republican't reign of error has ended and their fraudulent reign of terror will not stand!

The NEXT ELECTION is less than 1 year away!

Number Of Iraqis Slaughtered Since The U.S. Invaded Iraq "1,366,350"

Number of U.S. Military Personnel Sacrificed (Officially acknowledged) In America's War On Iraq: 4,685

Number Of International Occupation Force Troops Slaughtered In Afghanistan : 1,536

Cost of War in Iraq

Cost of War in Afghanistan

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"Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph:" Haile Selassie

Posted by: MrTruth | December 8, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: cheezweez2u | December 8, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Senator Reid seems to forget that the party of Lincoln that freed slaves over the objections of his party is today's GOP. Note also the obstructionists to Civil rights Legislation were again Democrats. L E.
PS These collective morons can't handle a simple flu shot, God save us from their health care machinations.

Posted by: leu3 | December 9, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

No, I am fairly certain that Senator Reid is aware of those facts. His point, as noted above, is that the current GOP, like the southern Democrats of old--the party of Jefferson and Jackson--will be on the wrong side of history. I am not sure that I am convinced that he is accurate, but it is clear that most of the posters here are either willfully ignorant of or mentally incapable of understanding his actual point.

Also, this whole beating the drum about how Republicans did this and Republicans did that... well, that was a very different Republican Party. It was a party almost universally composed of legislators from northern states representing the interest of the blue-blooded elite. Today's Republican Party is almost uniformly from the South and composed of people that were Democrats until the Civil Rights movement. The Republican Party betrayed its Lincolnian heritage to play on the racial divide that developed in the Democratic Party. It was a cynical political ploy and it worked for two decades.

Unfortunately for the Republican Party (and ultimately for America, which could use an honest political debate about the base level of social duties we have to one another... e.g., should our government let children starve on the street because their parents, for whatever reason, won't feed them) it has done a far greater disservice to the party in the long run. Its legitimate message (in the sense that it is merits serious policy discussion) of individual autonomy and limited government interference in the economy has gotten irrecoverably intertwined with thinly veiled messages of racial and gender superiority (note: xenophobia has been a trait of the Republican Party since they rose from the ashes of the xenophobic Whig and Know Nothing parties just before the Civil War).

So while it is technically true that an entity called the Republican Party did these things, no person in their right minds would believe that, on issues of civil rights, that the party of today shares anything with the party of yesteryear. It would be like Democrats standing up and saying that theirs was the party of small government... because, after all, it was the party of Jackson that finally killed Hamilton's national bank and trimmed government to the bare bones. Well, yes, this is an apt connection to make... if you ignore the New Deal.

The discussion of the current Republican Party as the defender of civil rights and the freer of slaves is equally nonsensical. There is a reason that Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms, the "Democrats" at the forefront of trying to block desegregation and the Civil Rights Act, became Republicans... and it wasn't for the free wine and cheese.

Don't grasp at past glories... own who you are today.

Posted by: orgbluspider | December 9, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Senator Reid was making a point that there are those that are obstructionist. If you don't want to help heal the country then you

Posted by: dyoung2 | December 9, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Republican members of the Party of No: If you don't like being likened to the past racists and their behavior, don't behave like the racists. That it was Democrats who opposed the abolition of slavery is immaterial. The principle still stands: those who would block legislation, but who have no alternatives to offer always have used parliamentary tacticts to achieve their goals. Then, they piously pronounce "who, me?" when their perfidy is revealed.

Posted by: LKauf81509 | December 9, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Reid and Pelosi make comments that are just too stupid to even deserve a comment. Why do they keep electing morons in Nevada and California? Do they not have anyone who can think?

Posted by: bwilkinson9 | December 9, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Here’s why the right wing capitalist Republicans opposed slavery in the mid 1800’s:

“We disapprove of slavery and the cost of the maintenance and upkeep of slaves. We prefer our English model in which we control the issuance of currency, and control of money, it allows us to control labor without the cost of maintaining it.”
--Lord Baron Rothschild (private owner of the Bank of England. Quote from 1849)

Here’s why Democrats have a history of being suspicious of the private sector:

"I sincerely believe... that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity under the name of funding is but swindling futurity on a large scale." --Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1816. ME 15:23

Posted by: bettypagelookalike | December 9, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Healthcare reform should not be about name-calling, bribes as payment for votes, or who won the elections-It should be about what is best for American citizens.

The efforts to appease and accommodate a certain segment of society in order to win their votes while deliberately excluding, alienating and penalizing the remainder who are not supporters of the bill or the current policies is reprehensible.
Such mean-spirited, egotistical, arrogant politicians must go -

The worst in human nature has been exposed by these healthcare (one-sided) "debates." No matter what happens, Harry Reid, and his ilk are not winners - they are the big losers.

Posted by: pjcafe | December 9, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Harry is already a lame-duck and is irrelevant.
As to the 45,000 who are going to or did die "from lack of healthcare", no one seems to be able to point to the definitive source of that number...putting it in the urban legend category.

Posted by: alantich2000 | December 9, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

They are EXACTLY like Civil Rights retards! They want to retard any progressive movement!Jeff Sessions-Texas said we will meet Obama's programs with TALIBAN TERRORIST TACTICS! So far, he has been right on course!

Posted by: asclepious2 | December 9, 2009 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Senator Reid's criticism is correct. The Republican Party's primary objective is to minimize and/or eradicate ANY measures which will improve the quality of life of Middle Class & Lower Income Americans. They are ignoring the basic fact that if these two groups are not treated fairly, our power & influence in the international arena will continue to diminish.

Posted by: rlewisoliver | December 10, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

In typical Orwellian doublespeak, Reid accuses those to seek freedom of the great sin of which he and his comrades, incluiding Obama are guilty of -- trying to force the SLAVERY of Marxism on us through criminal scams like Obamacare and cap and trade.

This is demonstrated by the fact that the guidelines for Obamacare are in the book “Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win,” written Robert Creamer, a convicted felon inspired by Marxist radical Saul Alinsky.

The guidelines for Obamacare are in this book! Creamer suggests that a bogus health crisis be created! He suggests – point by point -- the lies, manipulation, intimidation, and coercion we have witnessed from Obama and his accomplices to force us to swallow the Obamacare scam!

This convicted felon, Robert Creamer, was among the “distinguished” guests at the dinner party where the Salahis were declared “intruders.”

Posted by: AntonioSosa | December 12, 2009 1:30 AM | Report abuse

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