The political blowback from healthcare reform
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.