WASHINGTON — Democrats just don't get the election message from voters and are pushing a liberal, big government agenda at their party's peril, Republican officials said Sunday as they predicted a political price after the majority's victory on health care.
Voters are "tired of the borrowing, the spending, the bailouts, the takeovers," said Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, the No. 3 House GOP leader, pointing to GOP victories in gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey last week.
The Democratic-controlled House narrowly approved a health care bill Saturday night, with 39 Democrats voting against it and a single Republican voting in its favor. President Barack Obama's top domestic initiative faces a high hurdle in the Senate, which must pass its own bill and then negotiate a compromise with the House to craft a final measure.
"On a narrow partisan vote, the Democrats put their liberal, big government agenda ahead of the American people," Pence said. "If Democrats keep ignoring the American people, their party's going to be history in about a year."
Democrats argue that the races in Virginia and New Jersey turned on state issues rather than national concerns. They say victories in House races in New York and California are evidence that voters support their efforts to overhaul the nation's health care system. Both Democrats elected to the House on Tuesday voted for the health care bill.
"The message was clear. It's time to begin to fix what has been a broken health care system for millions of Americans," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which supports Democrats running for the House.
Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele said the House bill allows the government to take over the health care even though Americans don't want the government in charge.
"The Democratic Party had better pay attention to what the people out here are saying," Steele said. "You can no longer dismiss people by sitting on your cell phone when they're talking to you or calling them un-American or making them feel like you don't give a heck about what they're concerns are. That's what the voters laid on the table this year."
Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, the chairman of the Democratic Party, dismissed Republican talk of a backlash from the health care bill.
"They've been trying to block this all year," Kaine said. "They've said that they want to beat health care reform as a way to break the president."
Pence and Van Hollen appeared on "Fox News Sunday" while Steele and Kaine spoke on ABC's "This Week."
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