James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

The political blowback from healthcare reform

December 18, 2009

Kim Strassel of the WSJ states her case:

1) Consider North Dakota. A recent Zogby poll showed 28% (you read that right) of state voters support “reform.” A full 40% said they’d be less likely to vote for Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan next year if he supports a bill. In a theoretical matchup with Republican Gov. John Hoeven (who has yet to announce), Mr. Hoeven wins 55% to 36%. Mr. Dorgan has been in the Senate 17 years; he won his last election with 68% of the vote.

2) In Arkansas, 32% support this health-care legislation. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, also running next year, trails challengers by more than 50 points among the 56% of voters who strongly disapprove of the health plan.

3) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the public face of health reform, can barely break 38% approval in Nevada.

4) In Colorado, where 55% of voters oppose a health bill, appointed Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet told CNN he’d vote for a bill even if it “cost him his job.”

5) In deep-blue Delaware, 46% oppose the health plan. Democrats pounded Delaware GOP Rep. Mike Castle, running for Senate, for voting against the House bill. That vote has in fact kept Mr. Castle leading his expected opponent, Beau Biden, the vice president’s son.

6)  In the past weeks, four well known House Democrats announced they will not run for re-election. All are longtime incumbents; one, Tennessee’s respected John Tanner, co-founded the Blue Dog coalition. These folks have seen the political handwriting on the wall.

So why the stubborn insistence on passing health reform? Think big. The liberal wing of the party—the Barney Franks, the David Obeys—are focused beyond November 2010, to the long-term political prize. They want a health-care program that inevitably leads to a value-added tax and a permanent welfare state. Big government then becomes fact, and another Ronald Reagan becomes impossible. See Continental Europe.

Me: Yup. Ds, who also no doubt think healthcare reform is good and moral policy, see a long-term political advantage.  Indeed, they often talk about the structure of reform as more important than details. Those can come later. But change the structure of 1/6th (and climbing) of the nation’s economy and you change its politics, too.

Comments

Conservatives are setup for an amazing win-win handed to them by liberals lusting for power that never ends.

If the lunatic bill is defeated, a feather in the Republican cap.

If the crazed bill passes, the blowback will destroy the Democrats for decades. We’ll be looking at a 300-seat Republican house by 2012, 65 Republican Senators, and a 65% takeover of the White House. It will make the Reagan Revolution look like a molehill.

Posted by proreason | Report as abusive
 

+1 to proreason. The Dems think that once it’s done it cannot be undone. They are wrong.

Posted by Cromwell | Report as abusive
 

From your lips to God’s ears, proreason. Let’s hope and pray just ONE Dem Senator defects to the GOP before the final vote on this whole health care nightmare. Wouldn’t that be a nice Christmas present?

Posted by ExDemocrat | Report as abusive
 

The only way for America to stop this leftward drift is to ensure Nobama is out – GONE – in 2012. It behooves the Republicans to come up with an attractive, articulate candidate. Are there any out there?
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My concern is that America will adopt a social welfare state, much as Canada did in the 1960′s, and end up wasting many decades as the state grows larger and more obstrusive, much as in Canada. We are only just now starting to recover from it. Medicare is the thin end of the wedge – be careful.

Posted by gotthardbahn | Report as abusive
 

I agree that it’s imperative to kick out this bunch, but the GOP isn’t real high on my list right now either.

We need representatives who understand the Constitution, intend to abide by it, and take their oath to protect it seriously.

The tenth amendment says “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

In Federalist Paper #45, James Madison said “The powers delegated to the federal government are few and well-defined… war, peace, negotiation and foreign commerce.”

Keep your flipping nose out of my life and your hands out of my bank account–Democrats and Republicans alike.

Posted by BAP | Report as abusive
 

The truth is that Congress wants to escape any suggestion of having to pay for healthcare benefits, and would prefer that corporations pay the bill and “hide” the cost from consumers.

A more honest health policy was presented in detail by Ezekiel Emanuel, which would have paid for universal healthcare with a dedicated value-added tax. It would have been progressive in that the cost would have burdened citizens in proportion to their consumption which is directly related to their disposable income. And, since everyone would pay for healthcare this way, those who now receive free attention in hospital emergency rooms would also contribute.

The VAT would have put the focus on the direct cost of healthcare in the percentage level, so citizens would be aware that demands for increased services would have an impact on their ability to pay for other things. Healthcare expenditures are now around 17% of GDP and will represent fully one-fifth of GDP by 2018.

Replacing the direct corporate burden of healthcare premiums with a VAT would have removed a major cost disincentive to employment, and would also have made imports share the burden equally with domestically produced goods and services. And, because the VAT is a border-adjustable tax, so used for healthcare insurance, it would have been subtracted from exports making our products more competitive abroad as well as at home.

Too bad this plan did not receive more attention from the press as well as the Congress.

Posted by SteveA | Report as abusive
 

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