The big moment, the game changer, never comes. That’s been the story on health care for over a year. We had the September speech. We had the State of the Union. We had the health-care summit. Obama never garners the momentum from these events to change minds and votes. Indeed, the passage of time and the repetition of dubious talking points have unnerved Democrats whose votes are essential. This report explains:
On Sunday, two Democrats who hold swing votes said they were focusing on how much money the overhaul would actually save, both for employers and insured workers, and for the federal government. The House and Senate have passed competing bills, and leaders now are putting together a compromise version. Details on cost savings are still being worked out.
“If the House and Senate can’t work out cost containment, I don’t see how I could support a bill that doesn’t help our business community,” Rep. John Adler (D., N.J.) said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I’m not sure we’ve gone far enough in terms of fixing the underlying system to make it affordable for businesses and taxpayers.”
Rep. Jason Altmire (D., Pa.), also appearing on Fox, said he needed “to see a much clearer picture of the cost containment.” He suggested strengthening provisions in the bill aimed at shifting the way providers are reimbursed, to be based on quality of care rather than the number of procedures performed. Critics say the government’s current fee-for-service reimbursement system within its Medicare program encourages providers to offer patients unnecessary procedures.
Why hasn’t the president been able to win over these and the other needed House Democrats? Well, the nature of the bill simply cannot be disguised – it’s a massive new entitlement, a huge tax increase, a whack at Medicare, and set of Rube Goldberg funding gimmicks designed to conceal the true cost. The lawmakers know it, and the public knows it.
So all that is left is to see if the congressional leaders can cajole their members into passing something that is neither substantively nor politically sound. Unfortunately, the bribery and strong-arming needed to do that only intensifies the public’s disgust for the process and for the lawmakers who are pushing this on them. The longer this goes on, the less sense ObamaCare makes, especially to those who really have no reason to throw themselves over a cliff so that Obama-Reid-Pelosi can spare themselves humiliation. After all, the troika can come up with a face-saving, bare-bones deal, the lawmakers can tell the voters they did something, and they can get back to the Democratic members’ real concern — trying to save themselves from the angry electorate.