The choice facing Democratic senators up for re-election in 2012
If the 22 Democratic senators who voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and are standing for reelection in 2012 do not support its repeal next week, their political careers may be over.
Last year, voters passions against even the possibility of a new healthcare bill ensured the election of Republican Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts. However, now that the PPACA has been revealed as the law of the land, emotions are more intense as voters gradually are becoming aware of its onerous provisions, which are in opposition to the unsustainably optimistic image President Obama created to promote his legislation. How can these senators rationalize their reversal?
These senators may explain to their constituents that they did not have time to read the PPACA. If only Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid had followed President Obama's campaign pledge to have an open legislative process, in which the text of legislation is published 72 hours before a vote, some of these distasteful items might have triggered the senators' opposition to the legislation. The senators may assert that next time they will read a bill before they vote on it.
These senators also may claim that they were misled by the administration as to PPACA's contents. The Obama administration said health care costs would go down, people could keep insurance with which they were happy, the law would not increase the budget deficit, and small business would not be burdened. Federal officials, after reading the text of the law since it was enacted, have begun to admit that all of these assurances were false. Next time they will rely on a trustworthy source when they seek advice about how to cast their votes.
These senators may complain that they were deprived of their ability to approve the director of Medicare and Medicaid Services. Via a recess appointment, Donald M. Berwick , avowed supporter of the rationing of health care, was placed in charge of implementing the provisions of the PPACA. The senators know that the federal bureaucracy will ration services according to its racial and political preferences and that this is an anathema to all Americans.
These senators were told there would be no Death Panels. But at the end of December, Dr. Berwick authorized a new Medicare regulation permitting government to pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of -life care. Realizing that this provision would increase demands for the repeal of PPACA, he withdrew this new regulation. The senators may say that they will vote for repeal so that the Death Panel regulation cannot be reissued later.
These senators may say that, in truth, very little of the PPACA was as the Obama administration claimed. They were deceived, and, therefore, they are now changing their votes. Now that they are recovering from their infatuation with an ideal national healthcare system, may their constituents forgive them.
Peter Landesman ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a teacher, a mathematician and an author of the 3D-maze book Spacemazes, with which children can have fun while learning mathematics.