Conservatives won a big victory in the off-year election in Ohio on Tuesday with a huge win on the issue of ObamaCare.
Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment disapproving the federal mandate that will require most Americans to buy health insurance by 2014 or face fines.
The Ohio referendum called Issue 3 won with a whopping 66% of the vote.
This is yet another significant repudiation of the Obama agenda, and the first electoral defeat for Obama’s national health care plan since it was signed into law in March 2010.
The victory will not exempt Ohio from the insurance mandate because federal law overrules state law, but it does give momentum to those who ultimately wish to repeal ObamaCare. The constitutionality of the mandate will likely be decided by the US Supreme Court and could possibly lead to the demise of the whole law.
The vote is significant because it puts Obama in a bad light in a crucial swing state for the 2012 presidential race. One of the leading Republican presidential contenders Mitt Romney has said that he will grant ObamaCare waivers to all 50 states through executive order on Day One of a Romney administration.
Issue 3 adds an amendment to the Ohio state constitution stating that “no law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in a health care system.”
Said Jeff Longstreth, campaign manager for Ohioans for Healthcare Freedom, “We’ve sent a strong message throughout the country tonight, that individual liberty and personal freedom should and will be protected.”
Backers of Issue 3 were nervous before the vote since it came on the same day that Ohioans were expected to vote strongly on another referendum – Issue 2 – against Republican governor John Kasich’s effort to rein in the power of state employee labor unions.
The union-backed win for the much-touted Issue 2 came on the heels of union-curbing Wisconsin legislation last Winter that will help Wisconsin to close its budget gap without new taxes for inflated state employee salaries. Like other governors, Kasich has portrayed public-sector salaries as an excessive cost to the state that is driving business away.
Indeed the big ObamaCare victory was overshadowed by massive media coverage of Issue 2 which won by 61% to 39%.
According to the the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, the Issue 2 vote ‘strikes down Senate Bill 5, a sweeping overhaul of Ohio’s 28-year-old collective-bargaining law that sought to end binding arbitration to settle contracts with safety forces, ban strikes for other public workers, set payments for health insurance and pensions, and strongly tip the balance of power in negotiations to elected governing bodies.’
Governor Kasich said that the voters “might’ve said it was too much too soon.”
Union backers far outspent reform supporters and played on emotional heartstrings with cops and firefighters playing poor-mouth in advertisements. The fact that police and firefighters were rightfully included in the original legislation gave union backers ammunition for their cause, painting a picture of selfless civil servants leaving the population prone to fires and crime if the repeal failed.
Kasich, who is seeking to reform Ohio’s economy just as governor Christie has done in New Jersey, is seeking to hold the line on state spending and taxes and encourage business. Senate Bill 5 was intended to lower costs and taxes by reigning in union power.
But to a labor union, whose ranks have shrunk in the private sector from 40% of the workforce in 1945 to about 7% today, no salary is high enough. 37% of America’s public-sector employees are unionized. About 15 million American workers are unionized, evenly split between public and private.
This vote is seen as an important public-sector union win after the big union loss in Wisconsin last Winter and after governor Christie’s successful battle with New Jersey public unions.
Meanwhile a vote in Mississippi decided not to define “personhood” at the point of conception by 58% to 42%. Many voters said that the issue was worded too restrictively and that a better-worded amendment may have passed.
Conservative groups are seeking such a ballot success in order to bring the issue before the US Supreme Court and to possibly overturn the 1973 pro-abortion Roe v Wade decision.
A similar “personhood” vote failed in Colorado in 2008 and 2010 but Personhood USA, which put the measure on these ballots, is on the march with plans for three more state initiatives in 2012.
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