The Obama healthcare plan appears to be suffering a slow bleed. It is still early, and presidents who have control of both houses of Congress by the large margins that Obama has are still capable of exerting enormous pressure and twisting arms to secure unlikely legislative victories.
But healthcare reform is no longer inevitable, as was the case just six weeks ago. The reason is simple. The numbers simply do not add up. As Nina Owcharenko from the Heritage Foundation recently pointed out in a panel discussion on Capitol Hill sponsored by CNP, Inc., healthcare reform proceeds on two tracks: policy and pay-fors.
One must formulate a policy as to how to cover the uninsured, and then one must pay for it. This is what makes healthcare reform so arduous and difficult, not, as Obama posits, the “special interests,” the defenders of the status quo, and the big bad healthcare lobbyists. Obama and the Democrats can’t come up with the money to pay for their pie-in-the-sky vision.
Charlie Rangel tried a surtax on the “rich” (read: small business) and Nancy Pelosi is desperately trying to walk it back. Max Baucus tried taxing employer-provided healthcare benefits and Obama slapped that down (he had attacked McCain for proposing the same during the 2008 campaign). So the numbers do not add up, and there is no way in a recessionary economy to fund free or heavily subsidized healthcare for all. Even worse, the Congressional Budget Office now is on record as saying that the Obama plan will not decrease healthcare costs at all, and in fact will increase them.
Indeed, the more we learn about the Democratic vision of healthcare, the less we like it. The Congressional Budget Office has laid bare the fiscal and policy disaster that will result. A new analysis of the CBO data in Roll Call (Steven Dennis, “Analysis: House Health Care Bill’s Price Tag Tops $1.6 Trillion,” Roll Call, 7/20/09) shows the situation is even worse than previously thought. The House bill will actually cost $1.6 trillion, raise taxes $800 billion, blow a $238 billion hole in the deficit, and leave 37 million people uninsured. Now we know why the White House was so insistent that the bills clear the Senate and the House before the August recess. Obama wants to move fast so that the American people don’t find out the facts and don’t move to oppose it.
Unfortunately for Obama, it may already be too late. The new Gallup poll shows that people disapprove of his handling of healthcare by a 50 to 44 percent margin. The more they learn, the less they like it. And August will find many Democratic congressmen and senators at town hall meetings hearing from their constituents. Make sure you make your voice heard.
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