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Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky haunts Democrats as Obama stumps to push healthcare over finish line

March 15, 2010 |  9:53 am

Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky
She was a fresh force in politics, a former TV journalist who won election to Congress in 1992 from a district outside Philadelphia that Republicans had held since 1916. Promising to oppose new tax hikes and fight to hold down federal spending, Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky came to Congress on President Clinton's coattails.

Then she became the margin of victory for Clinton's 1993 budget, which actually eliminated the deficit for the first time in decades by raising federal taxes on the middle class. She knew she was committing political suicide but felt it was the right thing to do. As she cast her vote, Republicans salivated at the opportunity to defeat her -- filling the chamber with shouts of, "Goodbye Marjorie." She was defeated in the next election.

Now, as Democrats try to corral the needed votes to push President Obama's healthcare reform package across the finish line, conservatives have made no secret that they plan.... use the same playbook to defeat moderates in usually Republican districts who vote for the bill. Already, Americans for Responsible Health Care -- a 527 campaign group funded by a single wealthy individual, the same one that backed Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown in his upset victory in January -- is running radio ads in seven states -- Arizona, Indiana, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia -- warning members of Congress who already voted for the bill once not to do it again.

"The majority of the American people oppose ObamaCare," said ARHC spokesman Jeff Cohen. "It's really quite simple -- if these members of Congress vote against the people again, then the people will undoubtedly return the favor in kind come November."

With the game clock ticking, both congressional leaders and the White House seem to have confidence that despite enormous obstacles -- an intrinsic distrust of the Senate to do the right reconciliation thing for starters -- the House will somehow pass health insurance reform, perhaps as early as this week.

“We don't have [the votes] as of this morning," House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday. "We've been working this thing all weekend. We'll be working it going into the week.... The votes will be there when we vote.”

Margolies talked recently about her experience, saying that after opponents boil down their campaign attack to a sound bite, it's "very hard to push back on that 30 seconds and that’s what these members are going to face and that’s what these members are scared about.”

As for the former congresswoman, no longer married to Edward Mezvinsky, the former congressman from Iowa who did jail time for bank fraud,Margolies is now preparing for another role: mother of the groom in this summer's planned wedding between her 31-year-old son Marc and 29-year-old Chelsea Clinton.

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo credit: U.S. House of Representatives.

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