The Senate is moving slowly toward the first cloture vote around 1:00 a.m. on Monday, heading to a final vote on the health-care bill Thursday evening. At this juncture the most realistic avenue for upsetting the freight train is Rep. Bart Stupak, who unlike Sen. Ben Nelson, was not snookered (willingly or otherwise) into abandoning his pro-life constituents. As others have pointed out, Nebraska pro-life voters like voters in every state will, under the Harry Reid “compromise,” have their tax dollars go toward subsidizing abortions in states that choose not to “opt out” of abortion coverage.
There are several noteworthy aspects to all of this. First, we have heard a lot in the last year from some snooty ostensibly-conservative pundits who would like to rearrange the conservative coalition and dump social conservatives overboard. However, the health-care bill is as good an example as we will find as to why this is politically idiotic. Here we see that it is social conservatives who remain the last men and women standing against liberal economic- and social-engineering projects. The numbers may just not be there for Stupak to disrupt the juggernaut, but it is instructive that the final battle is likely to be over abortion subsidies, not taxes or any other economic issue. Perhaps it’s not a good idea for conservatives to tell some of their most stalwart allies to get lost.
Second, the Obama tax pledge — no tax hikes on families making less than $250, 000 — has been eviscerated by the bill. There are no less than seven categories of taxes on the supposedly non-rich and they are not insignificant. Union members with generous benefits, so-called “Cadillac” plans, are going to get smacked with new excise takes –unless of course they lose those generous benefits. This reality is not enough to sway supposedly moderate and conservative Democrats (and can we acknowledge when the chips are down they are all liberals?) to vote “no” when it comes to cloture, but it will certainly come up in the 2010 elections. (Five Democrats, including Nelson, voted to take the under-$250,000 tax provisions out, but their defense of the taxpayers evaporates when it matters.) Taxes are now a front-and-center issue in the run up to the 2010 election.
Third, we are spending of at least $871B (maybe $2.5 trillion over ten years) and raising about $500 billion in taxes. Nevertheless, we will still have, by the CBO’s estimate, some 23 million non-elderly uninsured residents. Insurance companies are no doubt doing the jig with the realization that the government is herding new customers their way. But that’s a huge transfer of wealth for not really solving the problem of the uninsured. We go from 83 percent of the population insured to 94 percent by taking money away from seniors’ Medicare funding and everyone else’s pockets.
We will, if this passes, see a massive sell-job by the administration and Congress to tout this “historic achievement.” But the American people may well recoil in horror. They are going to be taxed and bossed around, have their benefits disrupted and see what happens when government gurus begin to dictate what care they will receive. And it will be crystal clear who, when the chips are down, tried to stop the largest big-government power grab and tax-a-thon in decades and who rolled over. The opponents of those Democrats who rolled over will have a plethora of material for their campaign ads.