, “Dems at risk of decades in desert,” my first thought was: how can anyone claim to have the ability to predict electoral trends decades into the future? However, if you leave aside the “decades” part, Cunningham is making a striking and original argument which takes us beyond the usual terms of today’s political debate. He says that if the Democrats push Obamacare into law, not only will they lose a
in both Houses, and not only will the Republicans gain enough seats (by 2012) to
In short, the Democrats’ reach for revolutionary power could result in a counterrevolution against important elements of the modern liberal state.
Dems at risk of decades in desert
By MARK CUNNINGHAM
March 4, 2010
‘Hey, passing health- care reform may cost us the House or even the Senate this fall—but we’ll get control back eventually, and the Republicans will never be able to repeal it.”
That’s what some Democrats are telling each other to justify the final push for ObamaCare. It might even be true—but it might also sentence the party to minority status for decades. Here’s why:
ObamaCare isn’t Medicare: Medicare’s been popular since before it passed. It’s an enormous boon to those it serves, at little noticeable cost to everyone else. “Health-care reform” will take a lot away from a lot of people—forcing them to change plans, hiking their taxes and more.
So passing ObamaCare will create a large, popular movement for repeal that Medicare never faced.
Fine, repeal will be even harder than passing the reform—and Republicans haven’t had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate in living memory.
So maybe ObamaCare will stay the law—or maybe it’ll hand Republicans the chance to win that supermajority, if they play their cards right. Not right away, but …
The “good stuff” doesn’t kick in for years:To keep the 10-year net cost of the bill under $1 trillion, lawmakers postponed most of the spending for two or three years, while the taxes largely start at once.
So, while passing the bill might let people see it’s not so bad (Look, Ma, no death panels!—folks won’t see much good, either. That gives opponents another couple of years (at least) to undo it, before they’d be taking anything much away from anyone.
Republicans are still a longshot to retake the Senate this fall; they sure won’t gain the 60 votes to beat a filibuster. But Democrats will have to defend twice as many Senate seats as the GOP in 2012—and President Obama is sure looking like he’ll be a drag on the rest of the ticket next time ‘round, not the asset he was in ‘08.
It’s the economy, stupid: Along with jobs, it’s sure to be the issue this fall, and probably still in 2012.
Democrats may believe health-care reform will create jobs—but it’s all taxes, no benefits, for several years, so it won’t be doing that anytime soon. And moderates, at least, know that those taxes can only slow the recovery.
You’re destroying the Democratic brand: Outside of safe seats, Democrats win by seeming more in touch with regular people than Republicans. But every popular signal is coming in against ObamaCare. For God’s sake, Massachusetts voters handed Ted Kennedy’s seat to the GOP over the issue.
When the voters have done everything they could to stop this turkey, passing it via procedural tricks tells them that Dems don’t give a damn about anything but the demands of their far-left base.
Democrats are pretty far down this road already. As far as the average American is concerned, they’ve done nothing but push health care ever since they won complete control of Washington. (Most people haven’t heard the president talk about much of anything but health care.)
That is, Dems have selfishly been doing what they want—and not what the nation needs.
Democrats took power in 2008 amid the worst financial crisis in living memory—yet they’ve done nothing about the broken banking system. (And the bills they do have are all about locking in “too big to fail”—a guarantee of future Wall Street bailouts.)
They passed a “stimulus” bill that nobody except New York Times readers believes created any jobs—it just protected government workers.
And anyone who’s noticed all the White House talk of a “pivot to jobs” once health care’s finally done is going to conclude that Democrats were ignoring jobs all this time—because you don’t “pivot” to something you’re already on top of.
Most Americans just don’t care that Democrats have wanted national health insurance for decades. We’ve got real worries of our own. It’s as if Ronald Reagan took office amid the joblessness and raging inflation of 1980—and made his top priority ramming through a bill to privatize Social Security.
People remember this stuff for a long, long time.
Bottom line: Passing health-care “reform” runs a huge risk of handing Republicans more power in Washington than they’ve had since the 1920s. And if they have the votes to repeal ObamaCare, they’ll go after scores of things that vastly benefit core arms of the modern Democratic Party, from community-organizing grants to prevailing-wage laws to the federal budget process.
In other words, if Democrats go for broke to pass “health-care reform,” the party really might wind up losing every thing.
James P. writes: