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State of the GOP: Misguided and obsessed

By Rep. Steve Israel
updated 10:46 AM EST, Tue January 28, 2014
<strong>2007: Sen. James Webb -- </strong>Once considered a rising star with solid military credentials, the Virginia Democrat delivered a feisty party response to President George W. Bush's State of the Union address. The writer and executive producer of "Rules of Engagement" as well as other works of fiction opted not to return to the high drama of Washington politics and left the Senate after one term. The response to the State of the Union address is a big opportunity for a rising star in the opposing party. It doesn't always work out that way. 2007: Sen. James Webb -- Once considered a rising star with solid military credentials, the Virginia Democrat delivered a feisty party response to President George W. Bush's State of the Union address. The writer and executive producer of "Rules of Engagement" as well as other works of fiction opted not to return to the high drama of Washington politics and left the Senate after one term. The response to the State of the Union address is a big opportunity for a rising star in the opposing party. It doesn't always work out that way.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rep. Steve Israel rattles off a list of GOP failures, neglected issues and missed opportunities
  • Israel: Party showed they weren't on the side of the American people
  • Israel: Their wrong priorities will come back to haunt them in November

Editor's note: Rep. Steve Israel is the Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and represents New York's 3rd Congressional District. He will be a guest on Crossfire Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. ET. You can follow him on Twitter @RepSteveIsrael

(CNN) -- Three years ago, obsession took hold of Republicans in Congress.

In the third week of January 2011, John Boehner's newly-elected House held its first-ever vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and go back to letting insurance companies do whatever they want. Fast forward to today -- nearly 50 votes to repeal or undermine the law later -- and it's clear to the American people that Republicans in Congress aren't on their side.

Pick an issue: Jobs. The economy. Education. Infrastructure. Minimum wage. Unemployment insurance. Immigration reform.

Rep. Steve Israel
Rep. Steve Israel

The list of failures, neglected issues and missed opportunities goes on and on -- and shows without question that Republicans are on the side of special interests and the Tea Party, not the American people. No wonder poll after poll still shows House Republicans standing at record lows.

Americans don't need a pen and a phone, we need a job and a paycheck

Boehner's misguided agenda and one-note tenure have ignored what the American people want. In fact, independent, mainstream polls show that most Americans want to improve and fix the law, not repeal it. Americans know what repeal would cost them: giving the power back to insurance companies to discriminate, deny care, drop coverage, raise rates and drive hardworking Americans into bankruptcy.

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On the Affordable Care Act and so many other issues that matter to the middle class, the message House Republicans have sent is clear: They are not on the side of hardworking American middle class families, and instead will do everything in their power to protect those who need help the least: the Washington special interests.

Obama, the pain and fear must be named

While House Republicans have obsessively voted to turn our health care system back over to insurance companies, that is far from the only damage they have inflicted on the people of this country. Their disastrous government shutdown -- which they launched to oppose the Affordable Care Act -- cost our economy $24 billion. They won't extend unemployment insurance for struggling Americans who lost their jobs through no fault of their own and who are looking for work -- all while they make sure that Big Oil gets its $40 billion in subsidies. They refuse to raise the minimum wage, while seeking maximum tax cuts for the rich. They have yet to pass anything that remotely resembles a jobs bill.

Those wrong priorities will come back to haunt them in November.

A few Republicans are making the first motions to run away from this unpopular approach and to deny their repeal-only agenda. They're hoping that voters will think that they've woken up and found some common sense -- but voters won't forget nearly 50 votes, and they won't forgive them for turning their backs on hardworking people.

This year's State of the Union is a defining test for Obama

Republicans' flawed priorities are hurting real families in this country. With every repeal vote, John Boehner might get a kick out of conservative news headlines and the talk radio echo chamber, but what regular Americans see is a politician who cares more about wealthy insurance company contributors than helping their families.

Voters will have a choice this fall between Republicans' wrong priorities, and problem-solving Democrats who have dedicated their lives to helping middle class families get ahead. I believe that choice will be clear.

Obama's message: A dysfunctional Congress, but we'll get it done anyway

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rep. Steve Israel.

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