The White House Learned Nothing from Massachusetts
In July of this year, the American people were mostly undecided about Obamacare: equal numbers opposed and supported the health care bills that the White House was shepparding through Congress. But then August happened and informed Americans turned out at townhalls across the country to express their strong disapproval of Obamacare. The larger American public noticed and and pluralities of the American people began to oppose Obamacare. The White House concluded they had a "communications problem" so they scheduled a prime time speech in front of a rare Joint Session of Congress. But the President's speech arrogantly dismissed the concerns of the American people and after a brief uptick in support (from the low 40s to the mid 40s), opposition to the President's plan grew.
Then in November, liberals lost governor's races in New Jersey and Virginia as opposition to President Obama's signature policy priority inched towards 50%. Again the White House concluded that nothing was wrong with their policy agenda and they dismissed their setbacks in two states that had voted for President Barack Obama as local elections with weak candidates. Instead of rethinking their policies and procedures the White House doubled down and pushed for a speedy passage of Obamacare with as little debate as possible. Over the next two months the White House bought support for their health care plan with the Louisiana Purchase, the Cornhusker Kickback, and big labor tax breaks. And their behind-closed-doors, backroom-deal tactics almost worked ... until Massachusetts happened.
Just like in August and November, Sen. Scott Brown's (R) upset win over Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) took the Obama administration completely by surprise. Again, the White House concluded they had a "communications problem" so this time they scheduled a six-hour health care summit that is supposed to take place at The Blair House, across the street from the White House, this Thursday. But like everything else that has come out of the Obama administration during this health care debate, the President's effort to "seek common ground" at the summit is completely disingenuous. The New York Times reported this past Friday that the White House is drafting, and will release this morning, a final health care bill they expect Congress to pass quickly. And this bill is specifically designed to pass without any conservative support:
Democratic officials said the president’s proposal was being written so that it could be attached to a budget bill as a way of averting a Republican filibuster in the Senate. The procedure, known as budget reconciliation, would let Democrats advance the bill with a simple majority rather than a 60-vote supermajority.
And a "simple majority" does not mean they need 51 Senators. The nuclear option the White House is now pushing, reconciliation, only requires the Obama administration to muster 50 votes before Vice President Joe Biden can cast a tie breaking vote in favor of a government takeover of health care.
And make no mistake, a government takeover of health care is exactly what Obamacare is. Just last night the White House revealed that one new feature of their legislation will be to give the federal government sweeping new authority to set prices for health insurance. This is on top of the sweeping new authority that Obamacare already grants the federal government to micromanage the coverage details of every single health insurance policy in the country. And since the nuclear option only requires 50 Democratic Senators for passage, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has signaled that an outright government run health insurance company, the public option, will also be included in the final bill.
There is a reason that the longer this health care debate has dragged on, more and more Americans have become solidly against Obamacare: the plan has been exposed as a welfare state takeover of our health care sector that can only be passed by the most partisan and venal tactics. If the President was capable of listening to the American people, and learning from August, November, and Massachusetts, then he would abandon the legislative disasters still pending in the House and Senate and start over. That is what the American people want.