Democrats whistling past grave­yard

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

The un­ex­pected victory of Repub­li­can Jimmy Hig­don in the Ken­tucky state Se­nate spe­cial elec­tion — de­spite a 2-to-1 Demo­cratic regis­tra­tion ad­van­tage — is an­other fire bell in the night that na­tional Democrats are go­ing to ig­nore. Mark­ing the 33rd Repub­li­can win in the 50 or so spe­cial elec­tions since 2008, the Ken­tucky race was a ref­er­en­dum on health care re­form. Demo­cratic Gov. Steve Bes­hear ac­knowl­edged that “The Repub­li­can Party was suc­cess­ful in [. . .] na­tional(iz­ing) this race.” The winning mar­gin was 12 points in a district that was sup­posed to drop into the Demo­crat’s lap like a ripe peach.

But the Demo­cratic Party is not lis­ten­ing to ac­tual vot­ers any more than it is heed­ing a string of polls show­ing de­clin­ing sup­port for a health care over­haul and for politi­cians who push it. A new Quin­nip­iac poll finds that 52 per­cent of re­spon­dents op­pose the health care re­form un­der con­sid­er­a­tion in Congress, while only 38 per­cent sup­port it. The same poll found that only 38 per­cent ap­prove of the way Pres­i­dent Obama is han­dling the is­sue, while 56 per­cent dis­ap­prove. Grave­yard? What grave­yard?

The Quin­nip­iac poll found the low­est over­all ap­proval rat­ing yet for Pres­i­dent Obama at 46 per­cent. Other re­sults are sim­i­lar. The Real­Clear­Pol­i­tics av­er­age shows the pres­i­dent’s ap­proval rat­ing at 48.6 — down from 62 per­cent in June. Gallup found that 49 per­cent of vot­ers would ad­vise their rep­re­sen­ta­tive to vote against health care re­form while 44 per­cent would coun­sel vot­ing in fa­vor. Ras­mussen’s sur­vey found that only 41 per­cent fa­vor the bill.

If this were a ref­er­en­dum, it’s clear which side would pre­vail.

Aside from the un­pop­u­lar­ity of the leg­is­la­tion it­self, Amer­i­cans are dis­mayed at the Democrats’ stub­born un­re­spon­sive­ness to their pri­or­i­ties. All ma­jor polls show that by more than a 2-to-1 mar­gin, vot­ers are more con­cerned about the econ­omy and jobs than about health care.

Yet Speaker Pelosi re­it­er­ated again last week that “We would do al­most any­thing to pass a health care bill.” Points for frank­ness.

Politi­cians are rou­tinely chas­tised for pan­der­ing to vot­ers — and the Democrats have done more than their share. But this is the op­po­site and it is even less up­lift­ing. The Demo­cratic Party is de­ter­mined to shove health care re­form down the na­tion’s throat ut­terly dis­re­gard­ing the elec­torate’s wishes.

They (prob­a­bly) have the votes to do it. But, as Al Gore might put it, rail­road­ing un­pop­u­lar leg­is­la­tion through is a “risky scheme.”

Be­cause Democrats like to hold of­fice, it can­not be that they are moved only by ide­o­log­i­cal rigid­ity. They must be con­vinced that once their re­form be­comes law, vot­ers will be happy with it. They must also be­lieve that the vot­ers are as in­sin­cere as Democrats them­selves are when they ex­press worry about the size of the na­tional debt.

But the gam­ble may not pay off. Be­tween now and 2010, the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the Democrats’ truly reck­less plunge into the deep­est debt in our his­tory will be­come clearer. Con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mates put the num­ber of new bu­reaus, com­mis­sions, and agen­cies hid­den in those 2,000 page bills at 100 — all staffed with bu­reau­crats ready to com­pli­cate the process of get­ting well.

A pro­posal Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid ap­pears to be tout­ing will per­mit a “buy in” to Medi­care for those be­tween the ages of 55 and 64. Do they ex­pect this to be pop­u­lar? Medi­care al- ready has an un­funded li­a­bil­ity of $89 tril­lion. Only a Demo­crat could con­clude that the so­lu­tion to the prob­lem of vastly over­promised gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits is more prom­ises.

Medi­care also fails to pay the full costs of care for its pa­tients. Hos­pi­tals and providers re­coup the dif­fer­ence by charg­ing higher pre­mi­ums to those with pri­vate health in­sur­ance. The Pa­cific Re­search In­sti­tute es­ti­mates that Medi­care shifts al­most $50 bil­lion in costs to the pri­vate sec­tor an­nu­ally. More Medi­care ben­e­fi­cia­ries will trans­late into more cost shift­ing. Pri­vate in­sur­ance rates will have to rise. This will not sur­prise vot­ers, 63 per­cent of whom ex­pect their pre­mi­ums to in­crease un­der the Democrats’ re­form. De­tails like the Medi­care ex­pan­sion and sub­stan­tial new taxes tucked into the small print will not play well. Vot­ers will ask them­selves: Why is this bur­den be­ing im­posed again?

Sur­vey­ing his polling re­sults, Quin­nip­iac poll­ster Peter Brown said, “It’s a good thing for those push­ing the health care over­haul in Congress that the Amer­i­can peo­ple don’t get a vote.”

But they do — even­tu­ally.

Mona Charen is a na­tion­ally syndicated colum­nist.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.