The myth of Obamacare inevitability
If you live on the internet (or spend a good amount of time surfing news and blogs) you were aware of the attempt by the Democrats and liberals to proclaim Obamacare "an inevitability." The talk is all of "momentum," "revival of the public option," "Pelosi within a few votes of passage in the House," - headlines all designed to buck up flagging support for Obamacare while trying to discourage opponents.
Matthew Continetti explodes these myths in a few short paragraphs in the Weekly Standard:
Public opinion is not on the Dem-ocrats' side. Most Americans remain satisfied with their health care. It's true that certain elements of the proposed reform, when isolated from others, poll well. But Congress isn't going to hold separate votes on each piece. Congress will be voting for the whole package. And the fact is that, ever since Congress began to assemble that package, more people have opposed the health care plan than favored it. The polls are striking. Since September 9, President Obama has campaigned strenuously for his plan, and it continues to lose support. And the Gallup poll.
Matt is right, of course. Less than 40% of the country supports the entire package. He also points out that the public is very concerned about how much it will cost:
A glance at the polls reveals the alarm at our ballooning national debt. The Congressional Budget Office concluded that the Senate Finance Committee's health care bill would pay for itself in its first 10 years, but only by imposing taxes and cutting Medicare. There is no reason to believe that the reform that comes to a floor vote will resemble the Finance bill. This bill is far too stingy for liberals. They are ready to add to the debt in order to achieve their social vision. They want universal coverage. They want more generous subsidies.The last myth Continetti debunks is that there is still time to pass it:
Obama originally wanted a bill before summer's end. Didn't happen. Back in September, lawmakers expected Pelosi to hold a vote by the end of that month. No go. Then the deadline was the end of October. Another fantasy. Now we're told the vote won't come before early November. But November features off-year gubernatorial elections that look favorable for Republicans. In Virginia, Republican Bob McDonnell holds a commanding lead over Democrat Creigh Deeds. When Obama won the state last year, the reigning opinion was that his coalition was strong enough to move the Old Dominion firmly into the Democratic column. A McDonnell victory would shatter this illusion. It would give pause to the center-right Democrats about to tie their fortunes to the president. It would show that the enthusiasm in American politics is all on the right. Southern and Western Democrats may begin to ask, What's the rush? And then the longer the health care debate goes on, the more the momentum for grand reform will fade. Big schemes will be abandoned.This is actually a time honored technique on the Hill when difficult legislation is in deep trouble; trumpet the idea that it's going to pass anyway and it's time for everyone to get on board.
Continetti is correct when he says some kind of health care may indeed pass. But unless Deeds pulls an upset in Virginia (Corzine has reestablished the natural Democratic equilibrium in New Jersey, it appears), nervous moderates - especially in the senate - may derail the idea of comprehensive reform and settle for some piecemeal changes.
Hat Tip: Ed Lasky