Obama is becoming increasingly heedless in his salesmanship. When he calls the bill a deficit-reduction measure, at least he has the backing of a Congressional Budget Office analysis that — taking all the bill’s unrealistic assumptions at face value — says it will reduce the deficit. He has no serious warrant for his otherworldly claims that it will control costs and reduce insurance premiums. The provision he has dubiously touted as a solution to rising premiums, a federal review board, won’t even make it into the final bill.
The president engaged in similarly shameless overpromising when hawking his stimulus bill. How did that turn out? He won’t even mention the word “stimulus” anymore. On health care, his most alluring promises will soon be discredited as costs, premiums, and the number of uninsured (in the near term) remain high. To paraphrase Colin Powell, if you reform it, you own it, and all the discontent with the health-care system will now adhere to Democrats.
A more cautious and shrewd leader would have avoided making easily falsifiable representations or putting himself on the hook in this way. Not Obama. On health care, he’s immoderate in his substance, his risk-taking, and his rhetoric. He’s all in, and he doesn’t care.
I don’t know how the final vote will shake out, but for a while, I’ve said that we know they don’t have the votes until they call a vote. They’ve called for a vote. It should occur Sunday. We’ve seen a few folks fall into place. They probably have (at least) 216; it seems like a lot of vulnerable Democrats are saying they’ll vote yes and roll the dice on their reelection in November.
But if it passes Sunday, as of Monday, if Americans have problems with their health care, they know where to send their complaints. If your premiums jump, thank most House Democrats, Senate Democrats, and the Obama administration. If your doctor takes early retirement, you know who to call. If you can’t get an appointment because the system suddenly has 30 million new patients, don’t blame the GOP. Patient care, premiums, what’s covered, access to prescription drugs, the rate of innovation in new drugs and procedures, the out-of-date magazines in the waiting room – hey, it’s all Obama’s show now. We laid out all the reasons this wasn’t going to work according to plan. (Exhibit A: Government programs never work according to plan.)
A lot of Democrats seem to think that they’ll vote this into law, and then the anger will go away. Nope. In the months and years to come, they’ll have the anger of the opponents and the anger of all the supporters who thought this would give them top-dollar care for low costs.