Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's Crunch Time On DemCare

Now that Joe Lieberman has been bought off (didn't I warn you about Dems -- and yes, he's technically an Indie, but only as a technicality -- being bought off rather easily?), there are only a few others who have expressed opposition to DemCare. The primary target is Ben Nelson of Nebraska. And yes, he is a target:
The White House and Democratic Leadership in the Senate has told Senator Nelson they will close every military base in Nebraska — a threat that is not credible, really — but they have also offered Senator Nelson between $300 million to $500 million in earmarks, according to key hill health care operatives. These hundreds of millions will be available for whatever he wants to spend them on in Nebraska.
There is a great deal of speculation that Nelson will cave to an amendment of some kind that will appear to prohibit or restrict abortion but in reality would do nothing of the sort. It's all about giving him political cover without really giving up too much. Of course, if a couple of RINOs (especially Snowe or Collins) throw in with the Dems, Nelson doesn't really matter, but if the GOP holds ranks, Nelson is the key. All you Nebraskans - what do you think of DemCare? You might want to let your Senator know.

There are a couple other minor players at this point that bear a mention, too:
Sen. James Webb (D-VA)
In the Winchester Star today, Webb announced that he is “still undecided” on how he will vote. Webb voted with conservatives five times for amendments that would have prevented Reid from stealing almost $500 billion from Medicare to pay for his massive new health insurance company bailout. Webb also described himself as a “long-time supporter of Medicare Advantage programs which have, in my view, greatly improved services in rural areas of Virginia.”
And, for all of you here in Missouri...guess who:
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
McCaskill told the Associated Press this weekend: “The whole reason we’re doing this bill is to bring down cost, first for the American people in health care, and secondly for the deficit.” AP adds: “Asked if she would vote against the bill if it raised health care costs overall, she said, ‘Absolutely.’”
Now, let's be real here. If anyone has followed Claire-bear McCaskill, you know as well as I do that she has her head dunked firmly into the Kool-Aid tank. I would be completely shocked if she actually did stand up against DemCare. I would bet you any amount of money that she made the statement above simply to make her look tough on financial responsibility. I suspect she's been seeing some polling that shows her Obama worship killing her approval ratings, so she's trying to score some points with the home folks before taking another long swig of Kool-Aid and ignoring what her constituents think.

Still, she did make this statement, so that gives us an opening. We need to flood her office with calls and e-mails pointing out the actual costs of DemCare, and to let her know that Missourians understand the budget trickery Reid is doing. Who knows? Maybe we could get lucky.

In the meantime, Obama is warning the Dems that this may be their last chance to enact health care reform. He could be right - if he can't get this through now, the backlash that is building now will have succeeded, and it would likely be a long time before the Left again has a majority in Congress and the White House. Let's hope so.

In case of failure, the Dems are beginning to lay their foundation for a government takeover of health care, shortening the goal posts to smaller incremental steps:

“What we need to do is lay a strong foundation," Sen. Ron Wyden said in an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow last night. "A foundation that we can build on in the years ahead. We are not going to get everything we want in round one, but we are going to get a foundation that we are going to build on in the years ahead.”

Sen. Jay Rockefeller told the New Republic "that liberal advocates could try again another year to push for the reforms that didn’t make it into the current bill." He said, "You know we’re going to be back next year, and the year after that, and the year after that."

Yes, we do know that, and it's precisely what so infuriates the grass roots when we see our elected representatives roll over on things like this. Sure, they may have dropped the public option for the moment, but what about next year? The year after? Senate Republicans somehow can't manage to open their eyes to the fact that while Senate Dems would prefer a one-shot victory, they would also accept small steps forward over a period of years. Despite this, the GOP feels the need to 'fix' DemCare with amendments that chip around the edges of a fundamentally flawed and unacceptable bill. It's blindingly obvious that what they are doing is completely wrong, and yet they can't figure it out. It's maddening.

And let's not forget...DemCare is the public option, no matter what the particulars end up being. Excerpts from Heritage:

Through incremental expansions of government programs like the State Children’s Health Insurance (SCHIP) program the left has been slowly moving us closer to single payer government run health care system for decades. Obamacare will only accelerate that trend; the only question is how fast. You can’t take the public option out of Obamacare. Obamacare is a public plan. Here are five reasons why:

1. Obamacare Raises, Not Lowers, Health Care Costs. According to President’s own Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency in charge of running Medicare and Medicaid, both the House and Senate health bills raise overall health care spending in the United States.

2. Federal Regulation of Health Insurance. Both the House and Senate bills would result in sweeping and complex federal regulation of health insurance that will create a one-size-fits-all federal health plan that will drive up (not down, as promised by the President) the cost of health insurance.

3. A Ticking Entitlement Time-Bomb. Both the House and Senate would dramatically expand eligibility for Medicaid and extend generous taxpayer-funded subsidies to the middle class. Combined, such commitments are the biggest cost items in the bills would result in scores of Americans dependent on the government to finance their health care. Both bills hide their true costs by claiming cuts and program restrictions that are unlikely to stick.

4. Employer Mandates. Both the House and Senate bills would impose penalties on many employers. An employer mandate would hurt low-income workers and would stifle much-needed economic growth. Our country does not need a job killing employment tax at a time of 10.2% unemployment.

5. Individual Mandates. Both the House and Senate bills would require virtually all people to obtain health care coverage or pay a penalty, an unprecedented an unconstitutional first for the federal government. Those individuals who do not purchase government qualified health care coverage would be subject to new tax penalties and in some cases jail time.

Bottom line: the question is not if DemCare will end up in government control of health care, but how fast DemCare will end up in government control of health care. That's it. Period. Hey, GOP: that's why it must be killed, not 'fixed'.

Now, a few more details that have come out.

The awesome, stand-up-for-the-little-guy Democrats have now successfully voted down a ban on tax increases on the middle class. Just remember this when your health care costs shoot through the roof...

DemCare also enshrines racial preferences in health care. Not only will you have to deal with rationing, but all of you non-minority, non-victims out there will be way, way waaaay at the back of the line. Hope you're not too sick, or you'll be in serious trouble.

An interesting subplot on the DemCare debate is that there is also growing opposition to it on the Left. Howard Dean is encouraging opposition, continuing to call for the death of DemCare. Of course, it's not Left enough for him, but still...I think we can all agree on the fact that the current DemCare bill should die.

So, if DemCare becomes reality, who wins and who loses?
Winners: the federal government (more control) and health insurers (more government-mandated business, in exchange for losing most of their autonomy and ceasing to be private businesses in any meaningful sense), the minority of low-to-middle income Americans who don't have employer-provided insurance and would henceforth receive large federal subsidies at the expense of other Americans.

Losers: American taxpayers, Americans who care about Medicare's solvency and the dire threat that it already poses to rising deficits and debt, Americans who like choice and competition in health insurance and health care, Americans who like lower health costs, Americans who like to control their own health-care dollars, and Americans who don't relish having the federal government start rationing health care in a desperate attempt to control skyrocketing costs in the absence of the market mechanisms that work so well in the other five-sixths of our economy (soon to be the other three-fourths, if -- against the people's will -- Obamacare passes).

This is bad, bad news, and it sounds like Reid and Obama are trying to force the issue soon. Call your Senators, especially if you are represented by Nelson, McCaskill, or Webb. If nothing else, you'll be able to look your children in the eye and tell them that you stood up and fought for their future. That's more than the supporters of DemCare are doing.

There's my two cents.

No comments: