Sunday, March 21, 2010
Why Obamacare Is Still a Bad Idea
On the seminal issue of this election cycle, Obamacare, there really was no other choice for him politically. To vote for the pending House bill would have meant political suicide in the district he represents. Most of his constituents who have voted for him are just like me. The Republicans in his district continue to support him as they have in the past.
He has waited until the last moment to weigh in with his opinion on the legislation, and his views continue to mirror mine. Quoting from his statement yesterday:
"I am saddened that the yearlong debate on health reform has resulted in legislation that is too expensive, contains too many special deals, does not contain health care costs and will result in increases in health insurance premiums," he said.
"Therefore I will vote against the legislation," he added. The House is scheduled to vote on the bill Sunday.
That leaves him among only a handful of moderate Democrats who are opposing his party and Democratic President Barack Obama. It may cause problems with his party, but it also may preserve his job in conservative Utah.
"I do think that a majority of people in my district have a lot of problems with this bill," he told the Deseret News. And, he said, "I heard from thousands and thousands of constituents on this."
So it seems there is at least one congressional district left in America where the will of the people, linked to rational political calculations has resulted in the correct outcome. I was only one of the "thousands and thousands" who personally wrote to Matheson, and he has correctly restated my concerns in his final position.
I had a feeling personally all the way through this sordid political theater performance that there was no way Matheson would risk offending his base. He listened to his "thousands and thousands" of constituents and did what any reasoned, pragmatic and knowing politician would do -- he stuck with them on a crucial public vote to preserve his job.
Why the rest of the Democrats can't see this issue the same way Matheson does is no mystery -- they either can't read the "tea leaves" in the angst of the voters or they simply don't care.
Lee Davidson, the Deseret News political columnist who wrote yesterday's story adds, "Matheson said he didn't pay much attention to the pressure and said he kept repeating that he merely wanted to see and study the final bill before taking a position on it. When he studied the bill, he decided to oppose it."
In this particular political fray this is a very novel idea. With all the ranting and raving, ask youself this, "How many who will cast a vote on this bill today have actually read the bill?" I guarantee you, having watched this process on other legislation up close and personal, that most members of Congress in both houses will rely upon their staffs and their party leadership, especially with this bill, and will not personally read the bill. Were they to do such a thing, as a rational intelligent human being independent of all other pressures that have been brought to bear upon them, the vast majority of them would reject it out of hand as Matheson has done.
So this day, on this one issue, Jim Matheson represents, and I'm grateful for that.
Business Week reported that Utah's Senator Hatch had raised his hand to remind everyone that today's vote is anything but a final victory for Obamacare on a point of order:
Senate Republicans have enough votes on at least two points of order to alter the measure and send it back to the House for a second round of votes, Hatch said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend.
“If those people think they’re only going to vote on this once, they’re nuts,” Hatch said as House Democratic leaders rounded up support before the scheduled March 21 vote on President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority.
Hatch warned that the approach Democrats are using to pass the legislation in the House may be unconstitutional because the House and Senate aren’t voting on “exactly the same language.”
And on this point Hatch is exactly right -- forget all the victory speeches you will hear today. This political kabuki play is far from being over yet. . .