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Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Obamacare: Dead Legislation Walking
By Heritage Foundation @ 1:07 PM :: 4504 Views :: National News, Ethics

Another day, another stream of health care fantasy from the White House. A quick look at two health care events from yesterday, one in Glenside, Pennsylvania, and the other in Tawas City, Michigan, clearly exposes the yawing gap between the Obama administration's health care rhetoric and cold hard legislative reality. First in Glenside, President Barack Obama turned up the volume on his already tired "final push" for health care reform. In addition to the usual litany of false claims about the legislation in Congress (in fact, you don't get to keep your doctor, it isn't paid for, it doesn't reduce costs) President Obama also repeated his new line from his doctors-in-lab-coats address last week:

We have now incorporated almost every single serious idea from across the political spectrum about how to contain the rising cost of health care ... Our cost-cutting measures mirror most of the proposals in the current Senate bill...

But, as we pointed out last week, there is one not-so-minor difference between the Senate bill and the President's new proposal: the Senate bill actually exists. Now, Democrats may be telling their conservative counterparts that they will have reconciliation legislative text in front of the Budget Committee by tomorrow, but don't hold your breath. The "fixes" that the White House is promising wavering House Democrats they will make all sound easy at first glance:

1) scaling back the tax on high-end health insurance policies;

2) closing the Medicare D loophole;

3) boosting insurance subsidies;

4) increasing Medicaid payments; and

5) fixing the Cornhusker Kickback.

But when you take a second look, you see that all of these "fixes" will cost more money. Just look at the Cornhusker Kickback which the President chose to address, not by taking away Nebraska's special Medicaid payments, but by extending those extra Medicaid payments to every state! Every single item in the President's proposal either increases spending or reduces new revenues. And he didn't put forward any way to pay for them. If passing health reform were as easy as giving away free candy, Obamacare would be law already. Finding a way to pay for all these fixes is going to be just as difficult as every earlier effort to pay for this bill. So don't expect any solutions anytime soon.

And we haven't even mentioned "abortion" yet, which brings us to Tawas City where Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) hosted his own health care townhall. Now the Associated Press headline may read "Stupak: Health bill abortion fight can be resolved" but then the AP actually reports "Rep. Bart Stupak said he expects to resume talks with House leaders this week..." In other words, there is no agreement yet. And what kind of timeline is Stupak looking at for such an agreement? WJRT reports: "[Stupak]'s confident a bill will pass sometime this year."

"Sometime this year" is a bit longer of a timeframe than the White House deadline of next Thursday. But even more importantly, look at the process Stupak suggests for final passage: "According Stupak, until the House and the Senate bills and the president's proposals become one piece of legislation, health care will remain in limbo." Considering that everyone agrees that abortion cannot be fixed in reconciliation, Stupak's position is a total rejection of the White House's current plan to have the House pass the Senate bill now on the promise that the Senate might come back and try and fix it sometime in the future. Stupak clearly wants "one piece of legislation," and the only way to accomplish that is to scrap the current Senate bill and start over.

In the meantime, legislative "limbo" has not been kind to the Senate bill. Every day seems to bring news of yet another yes vote switching to undecided or no vote. Just yesterday, former-yes votes Reps. Michael Arcuri (D-NY), Dan Maffei (D-NY), Bill Owens (D-NY) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) all confirmed they were either now undecided or would vote no. And Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL), who voted no the first time, said he would suspend his campaign for Governor just so he could come back to Washington to vote against Obamacare again. The President can travel the country talking about an up-or-down vote for "our proposal" all he wants, but the reality is he simply doesn't have the votes in the House for the only piece of health care legislation that actually exists.

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