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Paying the piper

Posted by The Curmudgeon on March 26, 2010

Will Democrats pay the price come election time? Will we?

By hook or by crook (and mostly the latter—from what we can glean, anyway), Obama got his way; his health care/health care insurance/student loan/Gawd-only-knows-what “reform” scheme has been brought to fruition. Congressional Democrats—many no doubt weary of being by turns bribed and bludgeoned into submission—finally gave him what he wanted.

The question now is: At what cost?

Not just in real dollars; we already have an idea how brutal that will be. The real question is whether the political price some believe will be borne by Democrats seeking re-election a little over seven months from now will prove worth it.

Obama, of course, believes so; on the other hand, he’s not a Senator maneuvered into voting for providing erectile-dysfunction drugs to convicted child molesters or taxing wounded veterans for access to proper medical care.

In an excellent piece written by Kimberley A. Strassel for The Wall Street Journal (The Senate Reckoning: Senate Democrats get beat up by their own reconciliation rules), we learn that Senate Republican leaders proved a bit more shrewd than previously thought—and Harry Reid outsmarted himself (no major feat, granted—but noteworthy, nonetheless).

By opting for the “reconciliation” process (necessitated by the loss of their 60-vote “supermajority” with the election of Scott Brown), Reid unwittingly painted himself into a corner—along with his fellow Democrats. Trapped by their own rules, Democrats had to approve the reconciliation measure without amendment; any changes would have triggered another vote (which they likely wouldn’t have won—and risked killing the legislation altogether). Republicans no doubt privately chortled with glee, as any amendment offered would have to be rejected by the Democrats—even if it was something Democrats sincerely wanted—whether the Republicans actually wanted to see it adopted or not. They could’ve offered amendments for everything from providing womb-to-grave free medical care for everyone to taxing the snot out of insurance companies to pay for Obama’s travel bills—and the Democrats would’ve been obliged to oppose them. All of them. And there was no limit on the number of amendments that could be offered. Democrats were forced into the position of voting against each amendment—no matter what it was—and having their votes recorded. It had the potential for being the most fateful moment since George H.W. Bush foolishly uttered: “Read my lips.”

Predictably (as so astutely observed by Ms Strassel), this coming November, Republican candidates can look forward to correctly asserting that the Democrat running for re-election supported supplying Viagra to sexual predators, tried to tax Jerry’s Kids for their wheelchairs and braces, and might even have had a hand in killing Cock Robin—and the voting record proves it.

Obama praised Democrats’ “courage” for casting tough votes; inwardly, they had to be thinking: Thanks, you idiot, for forcing me to support putting Chester the Molester’s perversion into overdrive. Arlen Specter (D-PA) already faced an uphill battle for re-election; now, he’ll have to go home and explain to his constituents how he voted away their chance to opt-out of the whole mess. Oh, and Democrats specifically voted to exempt themselves from this landmark “reform” (a choice the rest of us don’t have—and most of us resent).

From the outset, an arrogant Obama counted on three things: an overwhelming majority in Congress to do his bidding, quick passage of his legislation (designed, of course, to lengthen the interval between passage and the midterm election—hoping we’d have time both to forget it all and to become accustomed to whatever entitlements we might receive), and the sheer immensity of a scheme that kept potentially troublesome provisions deeply hidden.

Instead, the process dragged-on for several months, his own majority proved stubborn, and we already know many of the dirty little secrets he’d have preferred to have kept hidden a bit longer. As the election draws near, passions may not have time to subside to a level to be of value to him; conversely, November is still far enough in the future to permit careful examination of his “masterpiece.” (Burying the devil in the details is a two-edged sword; it lessens the initial impact—but it repeatedly brings the legislation back to the voters’ attention as all those surprises are brought into the daylight a little at a time, thereby preventing its fading from memory prior to the election.)

Appearing in Iowa City shortly after signing the legislation, Obama invited Republicans intent on repealing the measure to “Go for it. Be my guest.” He, too, realizes that people quickly become content with entitlements—and resist having them taken away.

He might be well-advised to be careful what he wishes for; while some provisions took effect immediately, many of them will take years. There’s considerable doubt as to who will benefit from what, and how soon—and what percentage of the vote they will constitute in seven months’ time.

Giving the devil his due, Obama managed to eke-out a political victory when he needed it; again, however, the cost is still undetermined. Flush with his (Pyrrhic?) win, he’s been quick to claim broad acceptance of his plan; he sees it as a shot in the arm to advance his agenda (whatever that is). However, his reliance on strong-arm tactics and blatant bribery belie his campaign promise of “changing the way Washington does business”—or any other kind of change, either. His is the classic machine politics, Chicago-style thuggery on a larger scale. His promised openness and transparency long ago went by the wayside; by now, the criticism of his secret back-room deals has spilled-over from the much-maligned right-wing (and the much-reviled Fox News) into the mainstream. As far back as early January, even CNN had to take note. (See video of Jack Cafferty’s commentary of January 6, 2010.)


The political cost to Democrats? That remains to be seen. As Obama himself said last month during the Blair House tête-à-tête: “That’s what elections are for.”

________

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One Response to “Paying the piper”

  1. Larry Z said

    ” That which is brought into the light will be made made manifest ” Shuck and jive only
    works as long as you keep moving. This guy will eventually have to eat some of his own cooking. Bon’ Appetit Barry
    LCZ

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