So many backroom deals are being cut to get healthcare reform passed that "Obama is selling the government," bestselling author and Fox News commentator Dick Morris charges.
As Sunday's dramatic vote on healthcare reform draws near, reports and rumors of special arrangements and understandings have been blasted across the Internet. President Obama and Democratic leaders insist they aren't striking side deals to grease the wheels for ObamaCare. But in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Morris says otherwise.
Editor's Note: See the exclusive Newsmax.TV interview with Dick Morris below.
"This is one of those things we won't really know what the deals were for a month or two, when you see the appointments and the patronage and all kinds of other stuff that goes on," Morris says. "Bill Clinton, who I used to work, for was accused of selling the Lincoln bedroom. Obama is selling the government. I mean the amount of stuff that's going on now, the amount of horse trading…."
Examples that Morris provided: "There were two congressmen from California who got a multi-, multi-million dollar water project for their district. … The whole student loan program is being closed down, it's going to be run out of the government now. Except for one bank in North Dakota, which got carved out as an exemption because the head of the budget committee is from North Dakota."
The chairman of the Senate Budget Committee is Democrat Kent Conrad of North Dakota.
Of course, patronage is as familiar to Beltway life as cherry blossoms in springtime. But Morris describes the last-minute deals now taking place as "absolutely obscene."
Indeed, reports emerged Thursday that the $100 million designated for a hospital in Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd's state of Connecticut will remain in the bill.
On Thursday, Illinois Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush said he would vote against the bill due to its impact on hospitals in poor neighborhoods. But Rush later was seen conferring on the House floor with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and by that evening he'd changed his position, telling reporters he was no longer necessarily opposed the Obamacare.
Rush told the Hill "there's been significant movement over the last few weeks, last few minutes," adding that Democratic leaders now understood his position and "We're working something out."
Morris expects Democrats to lose control of the House of Representatives in the November midterm elections whether healthcare reform passes or not. But politically, he predicts the push to pass healthcare reform would prove politically suicidal.
"As an American citizen I do not want this bill to pass," he tells Newsmax. "But when I look at the November elections, it would be suicide for the Democrats to pass this bill. In October of this year, a month before the election, cuts to Medicare go into effect. Physicians' fees get cut by 21 percent under Medicare, hospital reimbursements by over a billion dollars. And what's going to happen is that doctors and hospitals all over the country will follow what the Mayo Clinic has already done, and say, 'We are not going to treat Medicare patients.'
"And the result," he says, "is that Medicare patients will find it almost impossible to find an ob-gyn, a gastroenterologist, a cardiologist to see, because none of them is going to take Medicare. They're not going to see a patient for $50, after they have $300,000 in [education] debt.
"They might or might not be able to see a family medicine general practitioner, but even those will begin to become scarce."
Morris predicts Obamacare will lead to a new form of comprehensive insurance for seniors which will replace Medicare.
"Think public housing, think public schools as opposed to private schools," he tells Newsmax. "Medicare is going to become, if this bill passes, the downscale service for people who won't be able to afford anything else. It's a disgrace."
Morris says Obama's primary motivation in continuing to push for reform is his administration's need to score a success.
"But if it passes what he might just do is run the whole plate with 51 votes," Morris says. "He might just run the whole table. He might take immigration reform, and cap and trade, and financial regulation, and all of his bills, and just jam them through with 51 votes, changing the system fundamentally."
Other highlights from Morris' interview:
- He predicts the bill will face massive legal challenges, because it will drastically increase states' costs of Medicare, which could drive up their tax assessments. "I think the states are going to use the 10th Amendment to go into the court, and say, 'Hey, this is an unfunded federal mandate. It takes away our ability to decide what the tax levels of our state ought to be,' and I think it'll pose a fundamental constitutional challenge," he says. He also predicts courts will overturn the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance as unconstitutional.
- Morris says the bill gives "outrageous" power to the IRS. "And the consequence of that is to criminalize it," he says. "…The jailhouse of the future will feature three inmates walking around: 'What are you in here for?' 'Murder' How about you? 'Kidnapping' And you? "I didn't have health insurance.'
- The CBO numbers that state the bill will add over 30 million people to the insurance roles while reducing the budget deficit are " totally phony," Morris says. He notes they collect 10 years of revenue to pay for six years of service under the plan.
- The year-long fight over healthcare reform has distorted the political process to the point that it's more partisan than ever, Morris says. "It used to be that intelligent people would say, 'I don't vote for the party, I vote for the person.' Now people who say that are stupid," Morris tells Newsmax. "Because it makes clear that the only thing that's important is the party. Because ultimately they all fall in line. And ultimately a Democrat is a Democrat is a Democrat is a Democrat. And it will leave in this country a lasting lesson for 2010: Vote Republican."
Morris says Democrats appear to still need more votes to pass their legislation.
"Right now if you forced me to predict I'd say it is more likely to pass than not, but it is not a done deal," he says. "And the public pressure on these legislators is escalating. It's really a question of the pressure -- the bribes from within, and the pressure from without."
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