DENVER — In a fiery speech that had her conservative Colorado audience cheering, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann railed against the dangers of health care reform and other Democratic initiatives, warning the proposals “have the strength to destroy this country forever.”
“This cannot pass,” the Minnesota Republican told a crowd at a Denver gathering sponsored by the Independence Institute. “What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. This will not pass. We will do whatever it takes to make sure this doesn’t pass.”
“Something is way crazy out there,” Bachmann said in her remarks, billed as a “personal legislative briefing” by the Golden-based Independence Institute, which bills itself as a “free market think tank.”
“This is slavery,” Bachmann said after claiming many Americans pay half their income to taxes. “It’s nothing more than slavery.”
In a speech filled with urgent and violent rhetoric, Bachmann — who proudly acknowledges she is the country’s “second-most hated Republican woman,” behind only former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin – drew a clear line on health care reform.
“You’re either for us or against us on this issue,” she said after deriding U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey, a Fort Collins Democrat, for “[sitting] on the fence” about health care proposals at recent town halls.
Bachmann earlier this month joined former U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, the Republican ousted from office last year by Markey, in a telephone town hall where she told abortion opponents the health care “battle will be won – on our knees in prayer and fasting.”
At times, Bachmann’s legislative briefing sounded more like the plot of a slasher movie.
“Right now, we are looking at reaching down the throat and ripping the guts out of freedom,” she said. “And we may never be able to restore it if we don’t man up and take this one on.”
While Bachmann didn’t ask this audience to “rise up” against President Barack Obama’s tyrannical rule, they stood anyway and applauded when she announced she was No. 1 on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s list of “top targets.”
Despite health care reform proponents recently facing “the summer of discontent for Democrats,” Bachmann predicted Pelosi has the muscle to keep the legislation on a fast track.
“[Pelosi] will slam this through in the month of September,” Bachmann said, even if she has to “break the arms of the Blue Dogs.” Then it comes down to the Senate, where Bachmann said “the lobbyists and special interests only have to hover around 15 senators,” with a bill expected by the end of the year.
Bachmann urged those opposed to Democratic plans for health care reform to keep applying pressure.
“This has to be defeated,” she said. “Cap and Trade has to be defeated. Those two alone have the strength to destroy this country forever, so we have to defeat them.”
Rather than hand over the health care industry’s “18 percent” of the economy to control by the federal government, which Bachmann warned would create “a critical mass [where] you are no longer a free-market economy,” she offered her own set of proposals to fix the system:
• “Erase the boundaries around every single state when it comes to health care,” enabling consumers to purchase insurance across state lines;
• increase the use of health savings accounts and allow everyone to “take full deductibility of all medical expenses,” including insurance premiums;
• and throw in tort reform.
“Do a few other tweaks and you’re there,” Bachmann said. “Your whole crisis is gone.”
Bachmann closed by urging the audience at the nonpartisan group’s fundraiser to defeat Democrats at the ballot box.
“You can win these seats back,” she urged the audience. “Hey, I got elected in Franken country!”
Noting that she heard plenty of carping about Markey over the weekend when she spoke at a conference in Steamboat Springs, Bachmann zeroed in on a vulnerability the freshman Democrat might face.
Even though professional organizers packed Markey’s recent town halls with reform advocates “all paid to be there,” Bachmann claimed, “regular normal Americans were allowed in too.” This left Markey no choice but to straddle the issue, her colleague suggested.
“She sat on the fence,” Bachmann said. “She didn’t say she’d support Obama-care or not. That’s her Achilles heel, that’s where you go after her. Because this is so clear, you’re either for us or against us on this issue.”