The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, March 15, 2010

March Madness

My favorite sport is college basketball, and my favorite sporting event is the NCAA basketball tournament—a.k.a. “March Madness”. My team, UConn, failed to make it to the big dance, but there’s always next year (and the NIT).

But there’s another type of march madness afoot this year, and Tom Bevan describes it:
If you woke someone from a 15-month slumber and explained to them that despite starting with a very popular leader and a reservoir of political goodwill, the President and the Democrats are now in the position of defending back room deals and inventing arcane parliamentary loop holes to jam through on a party line vote a 2,700-page piece of legislation that's opposed by the American public, they'd have thought you were crazy.

Yet that's exactly where we are. Democrats have apparently convinced themselves that "average voters" 1) have been terribly misled by Republican lies about the bill and 2) won't care about the manner in which this bill is passed. Both of those assumption spring from an exceedingly arrogant mindset, and both are quite possibly wrong. Perhaps more to the point, the "average voter" isn't the kind who turns out for an off year election.

I always chuckle when a senior member of the Democratic leadership suggests that the existing health care legislation would be a slam dunk if it weren’t for Republican lies and obfuscation. In reality, Democratic leaders are struggling to convince members of their own party that a poorly constructed, ineffective, and fiscally irresponsible bill will help this country and its people. With the exception of pointing out flaws in the legislation, the Republicans have relatively little to do with it. Although the Democrats hold overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress, they can’t seem to garner the votes required to pass Obamacare.

And yet, the President, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid continue to twist arms and otherwise intimidate members of their own party in an effort to force the health care bill into existence. Most political observers believe that this approach is near-suicidal and that the Democrats will pay a severe price in the midterm elections. But no matter, ideology trumps pragmatic politics and common sense in today’s Washington.

Other voices, such as Congressman Paul Ryan , try to speak truth to power. He states:
Rather than tackle the drivers of health inflation, the legislation chases the ever-increasing premiums with huge new subsidies. Already, Washington has no idea how to pay for the unfunded promises in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security -- and creating this new entitlement would accelerate our path to fiscal ruin. When you strip away the double-counting, expose the hidden costs that must be funded and look at the price tag when the legislation is fully implemented, the claims of deficit reduction are as hollow as claims of cost containment.

This legislation includes a range of job-killing tax hikes and controls on all Americans -- to fund this new entitlement and to penalize employers and individuals who don't play by Washington's new rules. The CBO said last July that "requiring employers to offer health insurance, or pay a fee if they do not, is likely to reduce employment." The mix of mandates and higher costs will drive Americans into government exchanges, with an ever-enlarging number reliant upon taxpayer subsidies for their care. The architecture is designed to give the government greater control over what kind of insurance is available, how much health care is enough and which treatments are worth paying for.

And so, in their effort to create a big government “solution” to health care—a solution that will wreck the current health care system and lead inexorably to Universal Coverage with all of its failings and all of its monstrous costs—the President and his followers have decided that the most partisan social legislation ever enacted will be rammed through Congress using obscure parliamentary maneuvers. Even Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” legislation—among the most liberal ever enacted—was passed with Republican support. Not so here.

March Madness.