The healthcare reform law will be President Obama’s “biggest downside” politically heading into the November elections, retiring Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) said Wednesday at a breakfast in New York hosted by Bloomberg.
“I think that the manner in which the health-care reform issue was put in front of the Congress, the way that the issue was dealt with by the White House, cost Obama a lot of credibility as a leader,” Webb said, according to the Washington Post.
Webb, who voted for the law, said Obama should have been more involved instead of letting five different House and Senate committees write contradictory bills as a result of which “everybody got confused.”
“If you were going to do something of this magnitude, you have to do it with some clarity, with a clear set of objectives from the White House,”said Webb. “It should have been done with better direction from the White House.”
Republicans immediately jumped on the comments.
“Even members of President Obama’s own party are now saying that he has ‘lost credibility as a leader’ by focusing on a big government health care bill rather than restoring the economy in Virginia,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “In November, Virginians will remember that President Obama has done nothing but distract voters with politics, and that he did not live up to his promises.”
Webb’s comments come just days after another retiring member, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), told New York magazine that the president made a “mistake” pushing for the law in 2010. Democrats lost 66 House seats in the 2010 midterm elections, partly because of the healthcare law.
“I think we paid a terrible price for healthcare,” Frank told the magazine in a lengthy interview as he prepares to retire at the end of his 16th term. “I would not have pushed it as hard. As a matter of fact, after [Sen.] Scott Brown [(R-Mass.)] won [in January 2010], I suggested going back. I would have started with financial reform, but certainly not healthcare.”