Roll Call posted a fascinating article on Wednesday detailing the growing sense of concern (or perhaps it would be more accurate to call it PANIC!) that many Congressional Democrats—especially those in marginally safe to contested seats—are experiencing over the rolling catastrophe of Obamacare’s implementation. For those who opposed the passage of the law in the first place, it’s a somewhat satisfying scene, which Jonah Goldberg is correct to refer to as a sort of “Schadenfreudarama.” Now, granted: it’s not a completely satisfying sort of schadenfreude; it would be much more satisfying if the consequences of the massive failure only affected those who insisted on pushing the thing through in the first place, and didn’t involve millions of people losing health insurance plans that they liked, with millions more likely on the way—along with the hardships that fact will entail for so many people. But in these days of chaos and confusion, I suppose I’ll take comfort in what little scraps of enjoyment come from watching those who supported this massive act of legislative malpractice scramble to save themselves from the consequences of their actions (which, of course, they had repeatedly been warned about).
But back to that article, which provides details on a meeting that occurred Wednesday between House Democrats and White House officials in which members of Congress basically demanded that the Obama Administration FIX THIS MESS. Some of the quotes in the article seem to me quite revealing of the mentality that prevails on the left side of the aisle in Congress*. For instance:
“Why can’t we call people who know how to do these things, who do it for corporate America, and say, ‘We have a website, fix it?’” asked Rep. José E. Serrano, D-N.Y. “Maybe I’m being simplistic, but can’t we call Bill Gates up and say, ‘Take care of this?’ Or go to a college dorm and say, ‘You guys, you invented Yahoo, can you take care of this?’”
Via JWF, in case you’re under any illusions that this issue isn’t a winner in Arizona — the national media’s hysteria notwithstanding — look no further than this. It reminds me of The One’s vow to have Democrats run on ObamaCare in the fall, the only difference being that Brewer’s approval rating bounced 16 points in two weeks after the immigration law passed and Obama’s approval bounced … ahem.
Seriously, Democrats – run on this issue. Run on amnesty. Do it. I beg you.
President Obama was asked a question in a recent town hall meeting on tax increases in Obamacare. He took 17 minutes to finish his response. Charles Krauthammer manages to dismantle it in about 6 sentences:
I don’t know why you’re so surprised. It’s only nine times the length of the Gettysburg Address, and Lincoln was answering an easier question: the higher purpose of the Union and [of the death of] soldiers who fell in battle.
The president had an easy answer. He could have said: I wanted to make history with health care and to do it, I have to raise your taxes. Sure, it’s not a good time economically in the middle of a recession, but politically, I had to, because I have a majority in Congress and I’m going to lose it in November. End of answer.
The president, who promised in both word and style to usher in a “new era” of Washington “responsibility,” routinely says things that aren’t true and supports initiatives that break campaign promises. When called on it, he mostly keeps digging. And when obliged to explain why American voters are turning so sharply away from his party and his policies, Obama pins the blame not on his own deviations from verity but on his failure to “explain” things “more clearly to the American people.”
Take the issue he has explained more than any other: health care. In the State of the Union address, Obama claimed that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had estimated that “our approach” to health care reform “would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next two decades.” This is, strictly speaking, not true. The Democrats’ “approach” to health care reform includes a permanent change to the Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors, colloquially known as the “doc fix.” The CBO estimated that the doc fix, when combined with the health care reform legislative package, actually “would increase the budget deficit in 2019 by $23 billion relative to current law, an increment that would grow in subsequent years.” This is why House Democrats stripped out the doc fix from the health care bill, and passed it separately; it made the CBO scores look bad, making it harder for the president to present bogus claims about deficit neutrality.
That bit of mendacity only scratches the surface of how Congress and the administration gamed the system to produce nice-looking numbers.
I remember when Clinton was running for office and conservatives were always pointing out that he was a man of low character, only to be rebuffed and mocked by those who claimed that character didn’t matter and it was “the economy, stupid.” I also remember that in 2008 during the presidential campaign, a lot of former Clinton supporters were appalled at how he (and to an extent Hillary) behaved as she ran against Obama, and finally admitted that yeah, he just wasn’t a very good guy right from the start. I have a feeling that someday a similar thing will happen with Obama.
…that seven-hour televised exercise had the unintended consequence of showing the Republicans to be not only highly informed on the subject, but also, as even Obama was forced to admit, possessed of principled objections — contradicting the ubiquitous Democratic/media meme that Republican opposition was nothing but nihilistic partisanship.
Republicans did so well, in fact, that in his summation, Obama was reduced to suggesting that his health-care reform was indeed popular because when you ask people about individual items (for example, eliminating exclusions for pre-existing conditions or capping individual out-of-pocket payments), they are in favor.
Yet mystifyingly they oppose the whole package. How can that be?
Allow me to demystify. Imagine a bill granting every American a free federally delivered ice cream every Sunday morning. Provision 2: steak on Monday, also home delivered. Provision 3: A dozen red roses every Tuesday. You get the idea. Would each individual provision be popular in the polls? Of course.
However — life is a vale of howevers — suppose these provisions were bundled into a bill that also spelled out how the goodies are to be paid for and managed — say, half a trillion dollars in new taxes, half a trillion in Medicare cuts (cuts not to keep Medicare solvent but to pay for the ice cream, steak, and flowers), 118 new boards and commissions to administer the bounty-giving, and government regulation dictating, for example, how your steak was to be cooked. How do you think this would poll?
Perhaps something like three-to-one against, which is what the latest CNN poll shows is the citizenry’s feeling about the current Democratic health-care bills.
Krauthammer is the greatest of all columnists. Always read Krauthammer.
The Senate-passed bill, upon which the president’s latest offering is modeled, would not let Americans keep the insurance they have today. It would impose deep cuts in the private-insurance component of Medicare, called Medicare Advantage. Those cuts would force millions of seniors out of their current coverage, against their will. They would get much less by way of benefits to boot. And many millions of workers would lose their job-based plans as employers opted to pay the government’s fines instead of offering heavily regulated coverage themselves.
The Congressional Budget Office has also found that the Senate bill would increase, not decrease, premiums, as the president was forced to admit at the Blair House summit meeting last week. One-size-fits-all federal insurance requirements would force millions of Americans to buy more expensive coverage than they have selected in today’s marketplace. Research by a private actuarial firm shows that premiums would jump by more than 50 percent in the individual market and 20 percent for those in small employer plans.
The Senate bill would also impose massive middle-class tax increases, not cuts. There are new levies on insurers and device and drug makers in the Senate plan that would get passed on directly to middle-class consumers.
The bottom line? Despite the liberal pushback, Ryan’s arguments remain compelling. (The Journal has more on them here.) Which shouldn’t come as a surprise. When a politician finds his moment, everything breaks his way.