Another backroom deal (Senator Nelson's vote was bought and paid for, and it should cost him his political career if there are any right-thinking citizens left in Nebraska), another late night voting session, another sleight of hand congressional nightmare that has no foundation in truth, and presto -- instant universal health care served on a platter of mounting debt and exploding deficits as far as generations can see into the future.
It turns out I have unwittingly aligned myself with Robert Samuelson of The Washington Post, who wrote a blistering rebuke of Obama politics in today's edition. Samuelson writes:
"Despite Obama's eloquence and command of the airwaves, public suspicions are rising. In April, 57 percent of Americans approved of his 'handling of health care' and 29 percent disapproved, reports the Post-ABC News poll; in the latest survey, 44 percent approved and 53 percent disapproved. About half worried that their care would deteriorate and that health costs would rise.
"These fears are well-grounded. The various health-care proposals represent atrocious legislation. To be sure, they would provide insurance to 30 million or more Americans by 2019. People would enjoy more security. But even these gains must be qualified. Some of the newly insured will get healthier, but how many and by how much is unclear. The uninsured now receive 50 to 70 percent as much care as the insured. The administration argues that today's system has massive waste. If so, greater participation in the waste by the newly insured may not make them much better off."
"So Obama's plan amounts to this: partial coverage of the uninsured; modest improvements (possibly) in their health; sizable budgetary costs worsening a bleak outlook; significant, unpredictable changes in insurance markets; weak spending control. This is a bad bargain. Health benefits are overstated, long-term economic costs understated. The country would be the worse for this legislation's passage. What it's become is an exercise in political symbolism: Obama's self-indulgent crusade to seize the liberal holy grail of 'universal coverage.' What it's not is leadership."
The reason there is no evidence of leadership is that from the outset there was no attempt to reach across the aisle and craft a bipartisan bill. This is nothing more or less than a one-party disaster. I would be just as suspicious if the Republicans had all the votes and attempted something like this. The political fallout next November must rebuke this kind of idiocy. If the electorate fails to remember this midnight express in the waning days of 2009, then they deserve what they get in poor leadership. Long forgotten in Washington is how statesmanship works, and that's what the country lacks now more than ever.
One writer and analyst who is as accurate as anyone out there, Michael Barone, also opined today -- "When Liberal Dreams Collide with Public Opinion." I have said before that middle America was swayed to Obama, and has now retraced its steps since the election, a political verity underscored by Barone and other pollsters he cites:
"'What's really exceptional at this stage of Obama's presidency,' writes Andrew Kohut, the Pew Research Center's respected pollster, 'is the extent to which the public has moved in a conservative direction on a range of issues. These trends have emanated as much from the middle of the electorate as from the highly energized conservative right. Even more notable, however, is the extent to which liberals appear to be dozing as the country has shifted on both economic and social issues.'
"From which we can draw two conclusions. One is that economic distress does not move Americans to support more government. Rasmussen reports that 66 percent of Americans favor smaller government with fewer services and only 22 percent favor more services and higher taxes.
"The second is that Barack Obama's persuasive powers are surprisingly weak. His advocacy seems to have moved Americans in the opposite of the intended direction.
"Obama first came to national attention in 2004 by promising to heal partisan, ideological and racial divisions. Like the other two Democratic presidents elected in the last 40 years, he campaigned in the center and started off governing on the left. In Copenhagen and on Capitol Hill, we are seeing the results. Splat."
Then I discovered tonight that the lead editorial in the The Wall Street Journal today also aligns with my views on the pending passage of the bill. Titled "Change Nobody Believes In," it summarizes perfectly my position on this debacle. The editorial board thrashes the process in these scathing words:
"And tidings of comfort and joy from Harry Reid too. The Senate Majority Leader has decided that the last few days before Christmas are the opportune moment for a narrow majority of Democrats to stuff ObamaCare through the Senate to meet an arbitrary White House deadline. Barring some extraordinary reversal, it now seems as if they have the 60 votes they need to jump off this cliff, with one-seventh of the economy in tow.
"Mr. Obama promised a new era of transparent good government, yet on Saturday morning Mr. Reid threw out the 2,100-page bill that the world's greatest deliberative body spent just 17 days debating and replaced it with a new 'manager's amendment' that was stapled together in covert partisan negotiations. Democrats are barely even bothering to pretend to care what's in it, not that any Senator had the chance to digest it in the 38 hours before the first cloture vote at 1 a.m. this morning. After procedural motions that allow for no amendments, the final vote could come at 9 p.m. on December 24.
"Even in World War I there was a Christmas truce.
"The rushed, secretive way that a bill this destructive and unpopular is being forced on the country shows that 'reform' has devolved into the raw exercise of political power for the single purpose of permanently expanding the American entitlement state. An increasing roll of leaders in health care and business are looking on aghast at a bill that is so large and convoluted that no one can truly understand it, as Finance Chairman Max Baucus admitted on the floor last week. The only goal is to ram it into law while the political window is still open, and clean up the mess later."
The American people deserve better than this. This is not the representative form of government we envisioned. This is nothing more than a payoff for votes. It is corruption at its worst.
But the WSJ editorial doesn't end there -- it continues by excoriating the administration's faulty math assumptions:
"Even though Medicare's unfunded liabilities are already about 2.6 times larger than the entire U.S. economy in 2008, Democrats are crowing that ObamaCare will cost 'only' $871 billion over the next decade while fantastically reducing the deficit by $132 billion, according to CBO.
"Yet some 98% of the total cost comes after 2014 — remind us why there must absolutely be a vote this week — and most of the taxes start in 2010. That includes the payroll tax increase for individuals earning more than $200,000 that rose to 0.9 from 0.5 percentage points in Mr. Reid's final machinations. Job creation, here we come.
"Other deceptions include a new entitlement for long-term care that starts collecting premiums tomorrow but doesn't start paying benefits until late in the decade. But the worst is not accounting for a formula that automatically slashes Medicare payments to doctors by 21.5% next year and deeper after that. Everyone knows the payment cuts won't happen but they remain in the bill to make the cost look lower. The American Medical Association's priority was eliminating this "sustainable growth rate" but all they got in return for their year of ObamaCare cheerleading was a two-month patch snuck into the defense bill that passed over the weekend.
"The truth is that no one really knows how much ObamaCare will cost because its assumptions on paper are so unrealistic. To hide the cost increases created by other parts of the bill and transfer them onto the federal balance sheet, the Senate sets up government-run 'exchanges' that will subsidize insurance for those earning up to 400% of the poverty level, or $96,000 for a family of four in 2016. Supposedly they would only be offered to those whose employers don't provide insurance or work for small businesses."
The fraud and deception in this bill is staggering! I am herewith resting my case on this sad, sad day in American freedom fighting. Never has the despotic act of so few punished so many. The only way this can be stopped peacefully is at the voting booth next November. The incumbents of both parties must face the judgment of a wronged electorate. The Democrats have defied the will of the majority of the American people and betrayed them.
The WSJ editorial concludes: "These 60 Democrats are creating a future of epic increases in spending, taxes and command-and-control regulation, in which bureaucracy trumps innovation and transfer payments are more important than private investment and individual decisions. In short, the Obama Democrats have chosen change nobody believes in — outside of themselves — and when it passes America will be paying for it for decades to come."
The problem when you think you know more than anybody else, is that anybody else might just get educated.