Going Their Own Way
Posted on January 5, 2010
Going It Alone
The Democrats have decided to drop all pretense when it comes to health care reform.
They are going it alone.
They are going to retreat behind closed doors, cook up a bunch of incongruous deals that will give away the store to buy the votes they need to pass a bill in both bodies, and then emerge once the black smoke disappears with a plan they hope they can sell to the American people.
They once promised transparency. They once promised bipartisanship. They once promised the earth and the stars and change that we can all believe in. And now, they are breaking each and every one of those promises.
But breaking promises has long been part of our national political heritage.
The problem for the Democrats is that they are rushing a bill that could mean their political undoing. They are sealing their collective political fates by hammering out deals that will prove to be unpopular with the majority of voters in the next election.
They are buying into the Rahm Emanual Theory. Rahm’s theory is that a failure to pass health care reform would be more politically damaging than passing something that is politically unpalatable to the majority of voters. He bases this on his personal experience with Clinton health care reform in the mid-90’s.
But Rahm is drawing the wrong lesson from history.
Sure, the collapse of Hillary health care was political embarrassing for the Clinton team. But it was the passage of the Clinton budget, which sharply raised taxes on senior citizens that cost the Democrats the House.
The Obama health care plan is not really about health care. It is really about spending and taxes. And it will be the higher taxes (along with the spending cuts) that will hurt vulnerable Democrats the hardest.
Democrats will talk about how Republicans did the same thing. They will talk about how they retreated to back rooms and kept the Democrats out of their discussions, and avoided long conferences, and used procedures that short-circuited the process.
But I would remind my Democratic colleagues that they did that to cut taxes for millions of Americans. They did that to provide prescription drugs to the Americans people.
They didn’t do it to raise taxes on senior citizens, small businesses, young Americans, and just about anybody who has a good-paying job.
Republicans decided to go their own way when they were doing things that were popular with the American people. The Democrats are going their own way to do things that will prove to be very unpopular with most voters.
Good luck with that.