The Hubbub Over Health Care

Discussion in 'Healthcare/Insurance/Govt Healthcare' started by The BKP, Jul 24, 2009.

  1. The BKP

    The BKP Grand Inquistor

    Jul 15, 2008
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    With the recent hand-wringing and flurry of activity over health care reform, including the President's fourth primetime news conference, it would be perfectly understandable if one found themselves quoting Bugs Bunny and asking, "What's all the hubbub, Bub?" The answer, the President's assurances to the contrary notwithstanding, is simplicity itself.

    Wait for it....Wait for it......


    Yes, despite the jubilant choruses of kumbayah that rang from sea to shining sea on Inaugural Day, Washington is yet again in the steely grip of.....wait for it.....politics. Moreover....gasp....partisan politics.

    "Hold on", you say. "Didn't the President promise us change? Didn't he assure us that, yes, we could?"

    Indeed, he did. The problem, however, is there is one thing neither the President nor Congress can change no matter how much they'd like - time.

    Time waits for no man, however historical or profound they may ultimately be. This rule applies to the President as much as it does you and I. And when it comes to the President and health care reform, time is most definitely not on his side. Why is that, you ask?

    Again, the answer is....wait for it......politics.

    The President, keenly aware of time's inexorable march, eagerly longs for a vote on the health care overhaul sooner rather than later - with Senate Majority leader Harry Reid's announcement that the upper house would not take up the bill prior to the August recess, it appears that vote will indeed be later. Nonetheless, among the political concerns that compel the President to anxiously watch the clock and calendar are....

    - Fear of the ides of August.
    Though a soothsayer bade Julius Caesar to beware the ides of March, it is their August counterpart that haunts the Obama administration. By the month's midpoint, members of Congress will have been on their recess for two weeks. The White House dreads the probability that not only those first two weeks, but the whole month will be dominated by non-stop haranguing over the Byzantine reform bill at the hands of cantankerous constituents. With Democratic Blue Dogs in the House and fiscal Conservatives in the Senate already balking at the gargantuan costs and projected deficits the overhaul would trigger, the administration fears the weak-willed and faint of heart in both houses may succumb to the incessant barrage of criticism and consternation over the coming month. Contrary to what Speaker Pelosi has assured the White House, they believe not only does she not have the votes to pass it now, but come the end of the August recess, she may well have even fewer still.

    - Mid-Term Mania and Re-Election Ramp Up.
    Learning from his previous experience in the Clinton administration, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel insists that the first year of an administration is critical in terms of passing it's policy agenda. He could not be more correct. Passing health care reform is a part of Obama's lofty agenda as well as a tangible and substantial accomplishment he can tout during the '12 campaign. Failing to do so will disappoint millions and leave a considerable chink in his political armor, but will most likely fail to be the political Waterloo that South Carolina Senator and would-be political oracle Jim DeMint prophesized. Nonetheless, for all intents and purposes, the end of the calendar year is the deadline for a comprehensive health care package till 2011, if not 2013.

    Once Congress returns from it's end of the year holiday break in January, the focus will be on the upcoming mid-term election on November 2nd next year. Accordingly, raising campaign money and avoiding the ire of constituents will be the order of the day. Therefore, the odds of any significant legislation passing, much less one that impacts a sixth of the nation's economy, are exceedingly slim to say the least.

    Moreover, there is mounting concern both on Capitol Hill and in the White House that the economy may continue to languish and remain stubbornly mired in recession. If that's the case, the focus will be on staving off a massacre of Congressional Democrats at the polls. Though many activists will insist that passing health reform is a vital part of the Party's defense, the more pragmatic and politically palatable course will be extending unemployment benefits in conjunction with a possible second stimulus package. Even this may face internal party opposition from the Blue Dog Coalition, leery of facing deficit-enraged voters in the fall.

    A growing fear within the White House is that 21 months into his term on Election Day next year, the public will no longer be inclined to give the President and his party the benefit of the doubt at the polls. Should we remain in the grip of the economic doldrums, voters will view it as Obama's recession. That being the case, the odds are exceedingly high the electorate will vent their spleen and punish Obama and his fellow political travelers at the ballot box in the process. Not only does this have the potential to weaken the Democratic majority and empower the Republicans and their fiscally conservative Blue Dog allies in the House, there is the possibility of a political tsunami large enough to sweep the Grand Old Party back into power in Congress's lower house.

    Even should the mid-term fail to return the Republicans to power in the House, the remainder of the President's term will be focused on shoring up his position for and conducting his 2012 re-election campaign. If the political waters run red with blood in the wake of next year's election, visions of Jimmy Carter and 1980 will dance like sugarplums in Republican heads. The problem with this, however, is two-fold.

    First, Barack Obama is no Jimmy Carter. Obama is energetic, articulate and possessed of an almost zen-like political intuition. He is an ardent campaigner whose political legs remain strong and in running shape. Additionally, he will not reprise Carter's political impersonation of Mr. Rogers - no sweaters by the fireside and monotone monologues on malaise for this President.

    Second, though Obama may emerge wounded from next year's mid-terms, Republicans still can't beat something with nothing. They need look back no farther than 1996 to see how a Democratic president can turn a mid-term massacre into a re-election victory. If they hope to regain the hallowed political ground of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, they must put up a worthy and credible candidate and not reprise the folly of Bob Dole's sacrificial candidacy. Obama and his political guru David Axelrod know this and will be prepared accordingly; Republicans would be well advised to do likewise. If not, they may find the tables have turned with an incumbent Obama slyly whistling the Rolling Stones' classic, "Time Is On My Side".

    You're searching for good times, faithful readers. But just wait and see. You'll come running back.

    Stay tuned for further updates as events warrant and we see if indeed the President won't have to worry no more.

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