Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Did the stimulus backlash enable the health care bill?

Peter Wehner (H/T Instapundit):
This health-care bill may well be historic, but not in the way the president thinks. I’m not sure we’ve ever seen anything quite like it: passage of a mammoth piece of legislation, hugely expensive and unpopular, on a strict party-line vote taken in a rush of panic because Democrats know that the more people see of ObamaCare, the less they like it.

The problem isn’t simply with how substantively awful the bill is but how deeply dishonest and (legally) corrupt the whole process has been. There’s already a powerful populist, anti-Washington sentiment out there, perhaps as strong as anything we’ve seen. This will add kerosene to that raging fire.
It is unprecedented. There has never been, at least in my lifetime, a bill passed that was simultaneously this big and this unpopular. It's hard to imagine that it has ever happened. Generally, representatives and Senators are somewhat responsive to their constituencies, because they want to keep their seats.

This may be a case where the backlash against this Congress has been so significant, and so fast, that it's actually enabled a legislative monstrosity. So many Democratic representatives, because of prior votes on stimulus, cap-and-trade and, yes, health care, are already dead-men walking that they've got no incentive to moderate. Might was well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb. The Tea Party movement, the attacks on the stimulus and the entire socialist agenda of the administration, has created in the congress the freedom of action that comes to those with nothing left to lose. As Tom Joad said, "it don't take no nerve to do somepin' if there ain't nothin' else you can do," and they've put themselves in a situation where there ain't nothin' else they can do.

Yeah, Nancy Pelosi's going to lose the speaker's office, but her seat is safe, and she's willing to sacrifice the speaker-ship for the "historic" health care bill. Harry Reid's fully committed to the health care bill. He cannot possibly escape even if the bill goes down. His only prayer of keeping his Senate seat is getting the health care bill through, signed, and subsequent vast infusions of Soros-capital and Acorn-labor for his re-election campaign.

And neither of them care a whit for the "blue dogs" that are going to lose. They are, many of them, short-termers anyway, elected in the last two cycles on the strength of disaffection with Republicans, and serving the purpose of the entrenched liberal leadership now as pawns to be sacrificed in achieving the great liberal dream of government-run health care.

Mr. Obama has revived the worst impressions of the Democratic party – profligate and undisciplined, arrogant, lovers of big government, increasers of taxes. The issues and narrative for American politics in the foreseeable future has been set — limited government versus exploding government, capitalism versus European style socialism, responsible and measured policies versus reckless and radical ones.

Barack Obama is in the process of inflicting enormous damage to his presidency and his party. And there is more, much more to come.
Hopefully, a year from now a Republican House of Representatives and a much more closely divided Senate can begin to mitigate some of the damage to the country. But this health care bill, if passed in to law, is going to damage the health care system in this country, and our economy, for a long, long time, regardless of what happens in November...

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