Fewer than half of the 60 Democrat senators who voted for Obamacare back in 2009 are still in office following the fall midterm elections, and many of the ones remaining are questioning the wisdom of passing the reform law at all, a Weekly Standard opinion piece
"Democrats are trying to figure out why the present that dismays them is so much less congenial than the future they recently anticipated," said William Voegeli, author and contributing editor of the Claremont Review of Books in his article, noting that the high hopes the party had following the 2008 election of President Barack Obama are sinking fast.
"Half of the 60 Democratic senators who voted for the Affordable Care Act in December 2009 — the exact number needed to prevent its being filibustered to death, since all Republicans opposed it — are no longer in the Senate," said Voegeli. "These ex-senators include eight who were defeated by Republicans, and eight more who chose not to run again and were succeeded by Republicans."
He points out that former Iowa Democrat Sen. Tom Harkin has said of Obamacare, "I look back and say we should have either done [healthcare reform] the correct way or not done anything at all.”
And New York Sen. Charles Schumer was similarly disappointed, said Voegeli, quoting a National Press Club speech the lawmaker gave after the November elections, when Schumer said that "Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them" in 2008.
"We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem — healthcare reform," Schumer said at the time, and noting that 85 percent of Americans were satisfied with their insurance policies in 2009 when Democrats took over.
Further, Schumer said that few of the uninsured vote, so aiming a "huge change in mandate" toward them made no political sense.
However, both Harkin and Schumer had been Obamacare backers, like many Democrats, with Harkin praising it for bringing good healthcare to the country and Schumer claiming it an asset for the politicians who supported it, said Voegeli.
But Democrats are "only quasi-democratic," said Voegeli. "They're adamant about government of and for the people, but dubious when it comes to government by the people."
And interventions like Obamacare required "guile and subterfuge," he said, as made clear by former Obama adviser Jonathan Gruber
, who infamously credited the "stupidity of the American voter" for getting the law passed.
"Gruber's arrogance was gratuitous, but the deceptions he smugly praised served a Democratic purpose: convincing people that government interventions that can bestow formidable benefits while imposing negligible costs are, despite sounding too good to be true, low-hanging fruit ready to be harvested," said Voegeli.
Instead, Democrats would speak plainly if they had enough confidence in their proposals, he writes, but instead choose to avoid such candor for fear of losing votes.
And even Obama made big promises, including that Americans could keep their policies and providers if they were happy with them and by overstating the cost savings Obamacare would bring, said Voegeli.
"The dark secret always turns out to have been the obvious, commonsense truth that everyone knew all along," said Voegeli. "Its revelation, long after the law has been passed, refutes the promises about huge benefits that will require no costs, assurances that should have been derided from the start."
But Democrats wish to deny there are problems by blaming how unpopular government intervention is "on the ignorant, ungrateful voters" or on Democrats who won't proclaim triumphs, said Voegeli.
"[This] is the strongest evidence that the party of government won't or can't remove the political barriers preventing more government," said Voegeli. "In that regard, the news in the aftermath of the 2014 elections is even better for Republicans than the reports on election night."
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