Despite the President’s furious efforts to rescue his signature health-care reform, it is sinking under the weight of its own radicalism and costs. Polls continue to show mounting opposition to the costly Obama scheme and conservatives around the country and on Capitol Hill last week began to sound confident that, for the first time since January, their embattled and outnumbered ranks in Congress might just beat the White House.
Obamacare’s demise would not only bury a terrible piece of legislation, but could jeopardize the rest of the President’s dangerously flawed agenda or, as Sen. Jim DeMint (R.-S.C.) said, be the President’s “Waterloo.” DeMint may be overly optimistic, but success breeds success in Washington, and defeat breeds defeat.
Democrats are running a bluff. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) said last week that she had the votes to pass the bill in the House. Republicans should call that bluff because if Pelosi had the votes, the bill would already have been passed.
But it’s still crucial for all anti-Big Government Americans to begin deluging their House members and senators with phone calls (202-224-3121), e-mails, tweets, letters and whatever else is left in their political arsenals to let lawmakers know that this health-care horror should be permanently flatlined.
“I don’t think they can get this passed through the American people,” House Republican Conference Committee Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) told HUMAN EVENTS Political Editor John Gizzi last week. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says the Obama-backed and Orwellian-named “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act” now being considered by Congress would add $239 billion to the federal deficit in the first ten years and significantly raise the cost of health care (which now comprises 20% of the economy). Pence branded the proposed comprehensive health care reform “the wrong prescription for what ails America.”
The confidence of Pence and other Republican leaders in Congress comes on the heels of a just-completed Washington Post-ABC News Poll showing support for the President plummeting on health care and other key issues. According to the survey, only 49% of voters nationwide now approve of the way Barack Obama is handling the health care issue, compared to 44% who disapprove. These figures represent a negative shift for Obama from a month ago, when the same survey showed his approval-disapproval among voters on the health care issue was 53% to 39%.
Even liberal columnist David Broder, one of the nation’s most avid supporters of national health care, finally tossed in the towel, conceding that Obamacare was a turkey. The President, he admitted, was pushing ahead with “badly flawed and overly expensive health-care plans.” Broder pleaded with Obama to look at a Celinda Lake-Bill McIntyre poll that discovered that there is, as the columnist phrased it, more “bipartisan voter support for an agenda emphasizing cost containment” than for “insuring the uninsured.”
The battle over health care is the latest in a series of clashes between the Obama Administration and congressional Republicans. Earlier this year, the House passed the Obama stimulus package ($787 billion) and budget outline ($3.5 trillion) without a single Republican vote. In addition, 11 Democrats broke party ranks to oppose the stimulus plan and 19 crossed over to oppose the record-high budget. Just last month, the House enacted the controversial “cap and trade” energy legislation by a vote of 219-to-213. This time, 44 Democrats voted against the Administration-backed measure, but eight Republican moderates put the measure over the top.
Republican confidence they can stop Obama’s radical health-care plan from being rushed through Congress is also bolstered by the skepticism of the more moderate “Blue Dog” Democrats about the proposal and the reluctance of even moderate GOPers to embrace what Rep. Mike Coffman (R.-Colo.) called “a government-run solution to fixing our health care.” Coffman predicted that “any legislation containing a public option will ultimately fail.”
White House Jitters
There were several signs of nervousness at the White House about the fate of the health-care plan. Last week, the President made four appearances in which he pushed for enactment of health-care reform before Congress adjourns in August. Last Wednesday he held a prime-time pep rally in the guise of a news conference to try to persuade a reluctant public. As part of the sales effort, Obama also met with skeptical moderate Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee that is dealing with the unpopular cap-and-trade energy tax bill.
The moderates reportedly pleaded with Obama for more time to consider the complex health legislation and not to insist on a vote before Congress adjourns in 10 days for the August recess. One of the group, Democratic Louisiana Rep. (and likely 2010 U.S. Senate hopeful) Charlie Melancon, told reporters that the President listened to their concerns but made no promises.
Emerging from the meeting, one “Blue Dog” leader, Arkansas Rep. Mike Ross told Congressional Quarterly that “no final decisions” were made about modifying the bill and lawmakers “need to see how the Congressional Budget Office will score the provisions under consideration.” (Click here for the e-mail addresses and direct phone numbers of the Blue Dogs.)
Voters should keep a close watch on the Blue Dogs who may well compromise themselves and vote for Obamacare if minor changes (which don’t solve any of the major problems) are made to the bill.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R.-Calif.) told HUMAN EVENTS: “Lincoln was right — if the voters get their backsides too close to the fire, they’ll just have to sit on the blisters a while. It’s painful, but it’s a learning experience — and Americans are going through that process now. So if a growing public awareness doesn’t defeat the Obama plan, it will at least defeat a lot of the so-called Blue Dogs who end up voting for it.”
On the GOP side, “I don’t know anyone in our conference who is for this thing,” Rep. Bill Posey (R.-Fla.) told Human Events last week. The Cape Canaveral-area lawmaker also noted that his district includes more than 40,000 senior citizens who are on Medicare Positive program.
“And all of them are very concerned that they may be forced into some other plan if [the Obama proposal] is enacted,” Posey added.
The mounting confidence among Republicans in and out of Congress about defeating Obamacare transcends the immediate goal of thwarting this radical program. It is also a hopeful sign that, for the first time in several years, conservatives of all stripes as well as some centrists are on the same page. (Earlier in the week, social conservatives began to join the fight against “Obamacare” as two proposals to strip abortion funding from the package were defeated on the House Ways and Means Committee.)
This is a Paul Revere moment. If House members and senators hear (202-224-3121) from constituents appalled by the prospect of centralized government health care and the bloated federal spending and higher taxes it will bring, the radical Obama scheme and any of the dangerous compromises being discussed can be defeated. And this voter concern will pack a great political punch in 2010, 2012, and beyond, whatever “safeguards” are put in the bill.
We can win this one. Let no effort be spared.