Just as the president seems unaffected by a public outpouring of anger and opposition to his government-centric health-care ideas, so too are key Democrats in Congress in the mode of put-their-fingers-in-their-ears-and-hum.
James Capretta explains that Sen. Max Baucus’s newest plan is pretty much the old Baucus plan, “starting with a so-called ‘individual mandate’ that would penalize any American who didn’t sign up with government-approved insurance.” Throw in an employer tax “if any of their lower wage workers ended up on government-subsidized plans, which would create a strong disincentive for hiring such workers in the first place.” (Did I hear we have 9.7 percent unemployment?) And add in expansion of Medicaid and Medicare, with some $900 billion in new spending.
The Baucus plan is flawed from the get-go because it starts from the same misguided premise as its counterparts in the House. It seeks to achieve “universal coverage” but without building a functioning marketplace to slow the pace of rising costs. And so, if it were to pass, costs would escalate just as rapidly in the future as they have in the past, and it would only be a matter of time before the current administration or its successor proposed new and draconian “cost control” measures to hold down governmental health-care spending. At that point, federal central planners would resort to the same kinds of price setting devices that have been tried for years in others settings, including Medicare. And the predictable result would be a large reduction in the willing suppliers of medical services, which would mean queues and lower quality care all around.
Meanwhile, the president will be out recycling his claim that Republicans haven’t budged and favor the status quo. It is not going to win him any friends on the other side of the aisle or from independents who think he’s already gotten too partisan. Moreover, it’s not true, as anyone who is even dimly aware of the efforts of Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Tom Price, and Rep. Paul Ryan can attest. But “dim” is what the president and his Democratic allies must think of the voters—that they won’t notice they have been utterly ignored.