Thursday, July 30, 2009

ObamaCare and why it won't pass

I noted in today's newspaper a growing suspicion even among liberal Democrats that so-called "ObamaCare" will be doomed to fail despite last minute attempts to jam it through. It seems the American people in growing numbers are finally putting their foot down in protest. (See

Mitt Romney weighed in today, also, with his insistence that President Obama needs to be more thoughtful and deliberative in his approach, rather than ramming another hastily constructed bill down the throats of members of Congress. He advocates (no surprise here) the approach he took as Governor of Massachusetts. (See

Also not surprisingly, Karl Rove has an opinion on ObamaCare and isn't the least bit complimentary. The findings of the Congressional Budget Office are in this article. (See

Defeat of the proposed health care reform initiative may mark the first setback for this president, who up until now has seemed to get nearly everything passed through Congress that he has set before them. Charles Krauthammer says the Democrats will get something, but not the sweeping package Obama originally wanted. (See

Peggy Noonan, a respected Reaganite speechwriter and one of Reagan's biographers (When Character Was King) also gives this perspective in the July 25 edition of The Wall Street Journal:

Let me throw forward three other things that I suspect lessen, or will lessen, support for full health-care reform, two of them not quantifiable.

The first has to do with the doctors throughout the country who give patients a break, who quietly underbill someone they know is in trouble, or don’t charge for their services. Also the emergency rooms that provide excellent service for the uninsured in medical crisis. People don’t talk about this much because they’re afraid if they do they’ll lose it, that some government genius will come along and make it illegal for a doctor not to charge or a hospital to fudge around, with mercy, in its billing. People are afraid of losing the parts of the system that sometimes work—the unquantifiable parts, the human parts.

Second, and this is big, some of the bills being worked on in Congress will allow for or mandate taxpayer funding of abortion. Speaking only and narrowly in political terms, this is so ignorant as to be astounding. A good portion of the support for national health care comes from a sort of European Christian Democrat spirit of community, of “We are all in this together.” This spirit potentially unites Democrats, leftists, some Republicans and GOP populists, the politically unaffiliated and those of whatever view with low incomes. But putting abortion in the mix takes the Christian out of Christian Democrat. It breaks and jangles the coalition, telling those who believe abortion is evil that they not only have to accept its legality but now have to pay for it in a brand new plan, for which they’ll be more highly taxed. This is taking a knife to your own supporters.

The third point is largely unspoken but I suspect gives some people real pause. We are living in a time in which educated people who are at the top of American life feel they have the right to make very public criticisms of . . . let’s call it the private, pleasurable but health-related choices of others. They shame smokers and the overweight. Drinking will be next. Mr. Obama’s own choice for surgeon general has come under criticism as too heavy.

Only a generation ago such criticisms would have been considered rude and unacceptable. But they are part of the ugly, chafing price of having the government in something: Suddenly it can make big and very personal demands on you. Those who live in a way that isn’t sufficiently healthy “cost us money” and “drive up premiums.” Mr. Obama himself said something like it in his press conference, when he spoke of a person who might not buy health insurance. If he gets hit by a bus, “the rest of us have to pay for it.”

Under a national health-care plan we might be hearing that a lot. You don’t exercise, you smoke, you drink, you eat too much, and “the rest of us have to pay for it.”

It is a new opportunity for new class professionals (an old phrase that should make a comeback) to shame others, which appears to be one of their hobbies. (It may even be one of their addictions. Let’s stage an intervention.) Every time I hear Kathleen Sebelius talk about “transitioning” from “treating disease” to “preventing disease,” I start thinking of how they’ll use this as an excuse to judge, shame and intrude.

So this might be an unarticulated public fear: When everyone pays for the same health-care system, the overseers will feel more and more a right to tell you how to live, which simple joys are allowed and which are not.

Americans in the most personal, daily ways feel they are less free than they used to be. And they are right, they are less free.

Who wants more of that?

That's Peggy Noonan's take. No matter how you feel about health care in this country, one thing is perfectly clear -- it's the envy of the world, and tampering with it indiscriminately without giving it a deliberative and carefully balanced hearing is irresponsible.

But then again, everything this Congress has done under this administration is indicative of doing things in a rush with blinding speed, responsible or not.

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