Health care debate heats up in Illinois

March 19, 2010 8:51:57 PM PDT
Most of the maneuvering is being done in Washington, but the health care debate is going strong in Illinois. Groups on both sides ramped up the rhetoric Friday.

Some 800 DuPage County Republicans filled an Oak Brook banquet room Friday night to listen to former George Bush political strategist Karl Rove. He calls it a bad bill that could be President Obama's undoing.

"If he wins this on Sunday, that is to say passes the bill, he will suffer a grave defeat. It will rally opposition to him. It will probably guarantee a Republican House of Representatives," said Rove.

Rove says public opinion has turned against the bill. But Democratic leaders are assuring the bill will pass.

A group of Chicago Latino leaders offered their support Friday. Latinos make up a large percentage of those who lack health insurance.

"Time and again people are denied coverage. That should not happen in America," said Sen. Dick Durbin, (D).

With lobbying for and against the bill hitting a fever pitch in Washington, Chicago-area congressmen are all at the Capitol preparing for the vote. But groups are still lobbying them back home.

Americans for Prosperity marched in front of South Side Congressman Dan Lipinski's office urging him to vote against the proposal. Some state leaders say the bill would pass huge costs along to the Illinois taxpayers.

"It's outrageous to consider that our fiscal problems are going to be magnified, maybe threefold, with this new health care boondoggle," said State Sen. Dan Cronin, (R) Elmhurst.

"The president has a lot at stake," said Prof. Dick Simpson, UIC political science chair.

Simpson says Sunday's expected vote would be historic even if the bill is less than what the president may have originally wanted.

"It's certainly not a perfect piece of legislation. There are many flaws in this bill but it is one that can be built upon in the future," said Simpson.

Congressman Dan Lipinski remains opposed to the bill. The Chicago Democrat is pro-life and says on his Web site he cannot support the bill as long as he believes it includes federal funding for abortion.