From strictly a governing and competence perspective, the health-care process that is unfolding has been one of the worst — and maybe the worst — we have ever seen. Democrats are pushing for legislation that would take over one-sixth of the American economy — and they are doing it in a manner that insults the memory of Mo, Larry, and Curly. Democratic Senator Evan Bayh provided more evidence of this with his simple complaint: “We’re all being urged to vote for something and we don’t know the details of what’s in it.” And what we’re talking about isn’t an annual farm bill; it is legislation that would fundamentally alter the fiscal and social landscape of America, possibly for generations. It is, to use a phrase from the Founders, a question of “the first magnitude to society.”
It is really quite astonishing, then, that Democrats are trying to ram through one of the largest pieces of domestic legislation in the history of our nation — and no one knows exactly what’s in it or what it will cost. The bill the Senate is now trying to find 60 votes for is an incoherent mess, a mishmash of historic size and sloppiness and, on the merits, utterly indefensible.
“It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country,” Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 1, “by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice.” What is happening right now on Capitol Hill, through the elected representatives of the people of this country, is the antithesis of reflection, choice, and good government. This matters not at all to Democrats, who have bought into a flawed theory: they must pass something, anything, no matter how awful, rather than start over again.
In fact, this process has been so bad, the products it has produced so defective, and the potential ramifications so destructive that, if the president signs health-care legislation into law, he will — with the stroke of his pen — provide Republicans with a golden opportunity to return to power. He is, in fact, in the process of setting the stage for a realignment of some significance. Repealing and replacing the monstrosity that Democrats call health-care reform will, absent some totally unforeseen events, become the dominant issue for the 2010 elections. And Democrats will, I think, pay a huge political price for what they are championing.
Barack Obama is turning out to be a very significant political figure, but not quite in the way he imagined. Ronald Reagan gave rise to a rebirth of conservatism and the GOP. So might Barack Obama.