Monday, December 21, 2009

Robert Samuelson: "Passing health reform could be a nightmare for Obama"

Economist Robert Samuelson in today's Washington Post

Monday, December 21, 2009

Barack Obama's quest for historic health-care legislation has turned into a parody of leadership. We usually associate presidential leadership with the pursuit of goals that, though initially unpopular, serve America's long-term interests. Obama has reversed this. He's championing increasingly unpopular legislation that threatens the country's long-term interests. "This isn't about me," he likes to say, "I have great health insurance." But of course, it is about him: about the legacy he covets as the president who achieved "universal" health insurance. He'll be disappointed.....

the finished product will fall far short of Obama's extravagant promises. It will not cover everyone. It will not control costs. It will worsen the budget outlook. It will lead to higher taxes. It will disrupt how, or whether, companies provide insurance for their workers. As the real-life (as opposed to rhetorical) consequences unfold, they will rebut Obama's claim that he has "solved" the health-care problem. His reputation will suffer.
(To read the rest click on the title for a link)

Joy Cost writes today:

Make no mistake. This bill is so unpopular because it has all the characteristics that most Americans find so noxious about Washington.

It stinks of politics. Why is there such a rush to pass this bill now? It's because the President of the United States recognizes that it is hurting his numbers, and he wants it off the agenda. It might not be ready to be passed. In fact, it's obviously not ready! Yet that doesn't matter. The President wants this out of the way by his State of the Union Address. This is nakedly self-interested political calculation by the President - nothing more and nothing less.

What makes this all the more perversely political is that the bill's benefits do not kick in for years. Why? Politics again! Democrats wish to claim that the bill reduces the deficit, so they collect ten years worth of revenue but only pay five years worth of benefits.

Bernie Madoff would be proud!

Conservative hate the bill because it mandated insurance coverage with a fine if you don't have coverage.

Liberals hate the bill because they wanted the government to provide free medical insurance paid for by someone else.

Moderates hate the bill because it raises their insurance costs, will hurt the economy by causing employers to hire fewer people, will lessen care for the elderly and everyone else through rationing and was passed with the type political payoffs and "bribery" moderates hate.

Democrat politicians will learn to hate the bill when they eventfully loose control of the House, Senate and White House.

One Republican senator compared defeating Obama's health care "reform" to Napoleon's loss at Waterloo. I think a better analogy is Napoleon's capturing Moscow in the dead of winter and finding nothing there and having to retreat through the Russian winter back to France. He won but he lost most of his army to the elements and was not able to hold what he had gained. No single payor, no public plan, no universal coverage only a lot of angry independents, moderates, liberals, conservatives, young people who will be forced to buy coverage and senior citizens who's coverage will suffer. Yes, it will be a long retreat through a long political winter for the Democrats and not a Republican fingerprint on it.

For Napoleon, Waterloo would come later, but he was never able to recover from that reckless march into Russia where he lost the cream of French manhood..... which he badly needed at Waterloo. He also squandered his image of invincibility. Obama has squandered political capital but more importantly he has lost his aura of being a different kind of politician. . He is no longer is viewed as the political leader who will bring us together.No, he is just another political hack from Chicago!

The payoffs ("Bribes") with your money from National Review online:

Sen. Ben Nelson (D., Neb.):

—$1.2 billion over ten years for a permanent exemption from Nebraska's share of the Medicaid expansion. The only state so exempted under the bill.

—Exemption for Nebraska from an excise tax on non-profit insurers.

Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.)

—Exemption from the non-profit excise tax for Michigan insurers. Michigan and Nebraska were the only two states so exempted.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.)

—$10 billion for "community health centers".

—Protections from cuts to Medicare Advantage beneficiaries in Vermont.

—$250 million over six years in expanded federal Medicaid funding.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D., La.)

—$300 million increase in Medicaid funding in Louisiana.

Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.), Sen. Paul Kirk (D., Mass).

—Three years of expanded federal Medicaid funding.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Sen. Arlen Specter (D., Pa.), Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.)

—Special treatment for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries in New York, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D., Hawaii), Sen. Daniel Akaka (D., Hawaii)
billions in new funding for something called “Disproportionate Share Hospital” (DSH) payments (financed, in large part, by $18.5 billion in cuts to DSH payments in other states).

Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.), Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.), Sen. Kent Conrad (D., N.D.), Sen. Byron Dorgan (D., N.D.), Sen. Tim Johnson (D., S.D.)

—Higher federal Medicare reimbursement rates for low-population “frontier” states (also qualifying under the bill’s definition of frontier states are Utah and Wyoming, represented in the Senate by Republicans).