We have the best health care in the world so why not use that as a foundation on which to build a comparable opportunity for others? That did not square with Obama's plan to remake America so now Obama's healthcare ambulance is rolling off the highway into a ditch of his own making.
So what to do? Again he is making the wrong decision by resorting to scare tactics and lies about the effect of what he is proposing. No wonder his ideas are meeting resistance. There is no Right Wing Conspiracy, it is simply American's beginning to realize they are being taken down a path they do not like and by someone they are increasingly beginning to justifiably distrust.(See 1, 1a and 1b below.)
Bullying and lying seems to be Obamas' strong suit and it will get him and our nation in a lot of trouble. Both articles posted in previous memos. (See 2 and 2a below.)
Buckle up, Congress is driving us over a cliff. (See 3 below.)
This letter was read on the Glenn Beck show and is worth reading if you have not heard its content. The writer speaks my sentiments and the sentiments of millions who have been far too silent but we are beginning to be heard loud and clear. Listen up Congress - we are 'fed' up! (See 4 below.)
1)Support Slips for Health Plan:Obama Push Faces Growing Doubts in Poll; Overhaul Advances in House, Senate.
By LAURA MECKLER
Support for President Barack Obama's health-care effort has declined over the past five weeks, particularly among those who already have insurance, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found, amid prolonged debate over costs and quality of care.
In mid-June, respondents were evenly divided when asked whether they thought Mr. Obama's health plan was a good or bad idea. In the new poll, conducted July 24-27, 42% called it a bad idea while 36% said it was a good idea.
Among those with private insurance, the proportion calling the plan a bad idea rose to 47% from 37%.
Declining popularity of the health-care overhaul reflects rising anxiety over the federal budget deficit and congressional debate over the most contentious aspects of the legislation, including how to pay for it. The poll also shows concern over the role of government in determining personal medical decisions.
Trying to regain momentum, Mr. Obama is shifting his pitch to new consumer-protection rules for insurance companies, part of a bid to win over Americans who already have coverage.
David Axelrod, one of the president's top advisers, acknowledged that the White House's months-long focus on controlling medical costs hasn't worked. "Consumer protections are a lot more tangible," he said.
On Wednesday, Democratic leaders in the House reached accord with conservative party members to move their bill through the last of three committees, although the full House won't vote on the measure until at least September. "Failure is not an option," said California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman.
The White House is eager to show progress and build public support before Congress breaks for summer, when opponents plan to continue their campaign. "If this bill hangs out there over the August recess my guess is it will get shredded," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R., Ohio), said.
In the Journal poll, only two in 10 people said the quality of their own care would improve under the Obama plan; just 15% of those with private insurance thought it would. Twice as many overall, and three times as many with private coverage, predicted their own care would get worse.
"You can't pass a substantial health reform unless privately insured people see there's a benefit for them," said Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who conducts the poll with Democrat Peter D. Hart.
Support for former President Bill Clinton's health plan hovered in similar territory in 1994 on its way to defeat. But the Clinton plan never made it as far in Congress as the Obama effort has this year. Indeed, the poll showed strong support among respondents for ideas common to all of the pieces of health-care legislation being considered by Congress.
When given several details of the proposal, 56% said they favored the plan compared with 38% who oppose it.
The description given to poll respondents didn't include a public-insurance plan, which divides the public, nor specifics about what income levels might be taxed to fund the plan.
The poll had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points for the overall sample.
Mr. Obama has focused sharply on cost control for businesses and Americans who have seen premiums rise faster than wages.
But those efforts have been hurt by the debate in Washington, which has been dominated by the $1 trillion, 10-year price tag for covering the uninsured. That makes it hard to persuade people that the bill will lead to reduced costs, said Mr. Axelrod.
"People are properly skeptical about any proposals out of Washington that speak to cost because they've been singed by past experience," said the senior Obama adviser.
At a town hall meeting in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, the president outlined a series of policies, many of which the insurance industry has agreed to accept.
The president said, for example, he wants rules that would require insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions, cap out-of-pocket expenses, bar insurers from dropping people who become seriously ill, ban annual or lifetime coverage caps, and allow adults to stay on their parents' plans through age 26.
The Blue Dogs -- a key group of conservative Democrats -- agreed to terms of Obama's health-care proposal. The development is a boost for the president, WSJ's Laura Meckler reports.
"If you've got health insurance, then the reform we're proposing will also help you because it will provide you more stability and more security," Mr. Obama said.
On the question of how to pay for the measure, the poll found only one idea with majority support: a surtax on the rich, the approach taken in the bill moving through the House, but which isn't expected in the Senate version.
Public support for fining businesses that don't offer insurance dropped from last month, with half of those polled now in favor. Only four in 10 liked the idea of taxing insurance companies that offer particularly generous health plans, an idea that has gained currency in the Senate Finance Committee.
The poll found that Mr. Obama's overall ratings have fallen amid worries over the economy, with the decline due almost entirely to dwindling support by Republicans. His score is solid by historical standards but no longer at the high-flying levels of his early weeks.
Overall, Mr. Obama's ratings fell on a series of measures. His job approval now stands at 53%, down from a high of 61% in April. That is three points higher than President George W. Bush had in June 2001, following a contentious election victory.
The proportion of people who said it was very or fairly likely that Mr. Obama would bring "real change" dropped to 51% from 61% in February. The share of those who said he could be trusted to keep his word fell to 48% this month from 58% in April.
Mr. Hart, the Democratic pollster, said rising concerns over employment and the economy explained Mr. Obama's falling ratings.
"He seems embroiled in so many of the issues of the day without much sense of relief on the economic front," he said.
The poll also found a rising sense of partisanship. More than three in 10 surveyed said the current Congress has been more partisan and divided than in the past, compared with just 11% who said it has been less partisan.
In February, people were more likely to blame Republicans by a two-to-one margin. This month, they were divided over who to blame, with most saying both parties were at fault.
On other issues, the poll found:
Strong support for Sonia Sotomayor, Mr. Obama's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. Forty-four percent of people said they strongly or somewhat supported her confirmation with 30% opposed.
Falling support for the economic stimulus plan, with 34% in favor, down from 44% in February; 43% now say it is a bad idea.
Two-thirds of people said they knew enough about the controversy surrounding the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. to form an opinion. Of them, about one in three said both Mr. Gates and the police officer were equally at fault, 27% said Mr. Gates was more at fault and 11% said the officer was more to blame.
1a) Obama Has Aura but Doesn't Know How To Legislate
By Michael Barone
Aura dazzles, but argument gets things done. Consider the debate on the Democrats' health care bill and the increasingly negative response to Barack Obama's performance. Democrats have the numbers to pass a health care bill -- 256 votes in the House, 38 more than the 218 majority; 60 votes in the Senate, enough to defeat a filibuster. But they haven't come up with the arguments, at least yet, to put those numbers on the board. It's something not many predicted that bright January inauguration morning.
We knew that day that Obama was good at aura, at generating enthusiasm for the prospect of hope and change. His inspiring speeches -- the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in Des Moines, the race speech in Philadelphia, the countless rallies in primary and caucus and target states -- helped him capture the Democratic nomination and then win the presidency by the biggest percentage margin in 20 years.
But it turns out that Obama is not so good at argument. Inspiration is one thing, persuasion another. He created the impression on the campaign trail that he was familiar with major issues and readily ticked off his positions on them. But he has not proved so good at legislating.
One reason perhaps is that he has had little practice. He served as a legislator for a dozen years before becoming president, but was only rarely an active one. He spent one of his eight years as an Illinois state senator running unsuccessfully for Congress and two of them running successfully for U.S. senator. He spent two of his years in the U.S. Senate running for president. During all of his seven non-campaign years as a legislator, he was in the minority party.
In other words, he's never done much work putting legislation together -- especially legislation that channels vast flows of money and affects the workings of parts of the economy that deeply affect people's lives. This lack of experience is starting to show. On the major legislation considered this year -- the stimulus, cap-and-trade, health care -- the Obama White House has done little or nothing to set down markers, to provide guidance, to establish boundaries and no-go areas.
The administration could have insisted that the stimulus package concentrate spending in the next year. It didn't. It could have insisted that the cap-and-trade bill generate the revenue that was supposed to underwrite health care. It didn't. It could have decided either to seek a bipartisan health care bill or insist that a Democratic bill be budget-neutral. It didn't -- and it still hasn't made this basic policy choice.
Most of Obama's top White House staffers are politics operatives, not policy wonks. The one leading policy wonk on health care, Budget Director Peter Orszag, has either missed signals of danger or has failed to communicate their seriousness to his colleagues. On Feb. 25, Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf, a Democratic appointee, signaled in testimony to the Senate Finance Committee that the CBO would not credit health care bills with the budget savings the administration was promising.
Orszag, as a former CBO director himself, should have realized what this meant, which is that Democrats would have to shape their bills accordingly. They didn't, and were stunned when CBO came out in June and this month with estimates of little or no savings.
And someone in the White House should have taken note when 40 Blue Dog Democrats signed a letter dated July 9 warning that they wouldn't vote for anything like the health care bills being considered in committee.
Without those 40 votes, Democrats don't have a majority in the House. It's unusual for dissenting members of the majority to set down such a public marker. Predictably, they haven't backed down so far, despite foot-stomping by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a chat session with Obama.
Obama's July 22 press conference was intended to rally support for the Democrats' health care bills. It didn't. The president eschewed serious arguments and rattled off campaign-type talking points. Those used to be enough to elicit cheers from enthusiastic audiences in Iowa and Virginia.
But aura can only take you so far, particularly when you diminish it by disrespecting the Cambridge police department. Being president means being more than commenter-in-chief. You need to know how to legislate. You need not just aura but argument.
1b) HEALTH-CARE 'COMPROMISE':BLUE DOGS GET TAKEN
By GRACE-MARIE TURNER
HOUSE Democrats are playing a game of Whack-a-Mole as they try to devise a health-reform bill to re-engineer one-sixth of our economy, but the latest "agreement" announced Wednesday makes no progress in repairing the deeply flawed legislation.
Dissident "Blue Dog" Democrats on the key House Energy and Commerce Committee had been holding the bill hostage to a list of a dozen demands, saying it costs too much and fails to address systemic problems in the nation's ailing health-care sector.
But yesterday, after days of negotiations with congressional and White House leaders, a spokesman for the group, Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), announced an agreement he said would reduce the bill's cost, increase the number of small businesses exempt from its requirements and weaken a government-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers.
But the Blue Dogs clearly made a deal for the sake of making a deal.
The best part of the agreement is that it delays any vote in the full House until after the August recess, so people can digest the details. When they head home this weekend, House members are sure to hear from incensed constituents alarmed about the impact of "reform" on their care.
All the other "concessions" granted to the Blue Dogs don't add up to much. Start with the cost of the bill, which they supposedly reduced by $100 billion: Problem is, the total price tag still will be nearly $1 trillion.
Not many Americans are going to believe that spending $1 trillion more on health care will somehow lower its costs. In fact, the director of the Congressional Budget Office testified that a similar bill before the Senate would "significantly expand" health costs, increase the deficit, and drive the nation more deeply into debt. The Blue Dogs' agreement does nothing to alter that fundamental fact.
And Americans don't believe the promises of politicians that they'll be able to keep the doctors and health coverage they have now. Numerous studies have shown that tens of millions of Americans are sure to lose their private insurance as government strong-arms them out of business.
The Blue Dogs said they got an agreement that government will "negotiate" its prices with doctors and hospitals. But government doesn't negotiate; it dictates prices.
Seniors are increasingly alarmed because they have learned that much of the "savings" to pay for health reform will come out of reductions in Medicare spending. They rightly fear that the government will start rationing their health care.
And Americans know that, once the reform plan is in place, tax increases won't just hit the rich but the middle class as well.
A sleeper issue that has received very little attention so far is the "individual mandate." Once the American people find out that the federal government is going to force them to purchase a health-insurance policy that it designs and compel them to pay premiums it sets -- and fine them if they don't comply -- they'll realize how deeply health "reform" will intrude into their lives.
There are no assurances that other House Democrats will go along with yesterday's deal. And the Senate is even further from an agreement than the House.
Meanwhile, President Obama has scaled back his pitch for sweeping health reform involving universal coverage and huge cost reductions. In speeches yesterday, he became a pitchman for insurance market reforms and "consumer protections" -- the lowest common denominator of health reform.
The president clearly will fail in his attempt to steamroll the House and Senate to vote on a bill before leaving for the August recess. And this may foretell failure for his sweeping reform agenda as well.
House Republicans put some new chips on the table on Wednesday in unveiling their own health reform plan, with a likely price tag of $700 billion. It offers a mix of tax credits and deductions to help people buy insurance, gives people more options to purchase private health insurance, and includes medical malpractice reform. It also avoids unpopular mandates on individuals and businesses to buy coverage.
Lawmakers should prepare to head back to the drawing board when they return in the fall with new ideas and feedback from constituents fresh in their minds.
Grace-Marie Turner is presi dent of the Galen Institute, a re search organization focused on market-based health-reform ideas.
2).The President Takes a Hard Line on Israel:Yet he doesn’t want to be seen as ‘meddling’ in Iran
By MACKUBIN THOMAS OWENS
In foreign policy, President Barack Obama has demonstrated a disturbing propensity to curry favor with our adversaries at the expense of our friends.
The Czechs and Poles are rightly concerned that they will be sacrificed on the altar of better U.S. relations with Russia. And the Israelis fear that the Obama administration’s desired opening to the Muslim world will be achieved at their expense. Mr. Obama’s attempted bullying of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a case in point.
Mr. Netanyahu was sworn in as Israel’s prime minister on March 31. Shortly thereafter, the Obama administration confronted Israel’s new leader in a very public way regarding Israeli settlements in the West Bank, an area partially controlled by the Palestinian National Authority. This was an extremely unusual way for an American president to greet the new leader of a liberal democracy that’s a close ally of the U.S.
The Obama administration was not satisfied with a series of understandings crafted by the Bush administration that, while not freezing settlements, had nonetheless achieved a significant reduction in settlement construction. During a May press conference with the Egyptian foreign minister, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that Mr. Obama “wants to see a stop to settlements—not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions.”
Subsequently, Mr. Obama demanded that Israel freeze construction in east Jerusalem. Of course, Mr. Netanyahu rejected Mr. Obama’s demand. He declared that Jerusalem is an open, undivided city “that has no separation according to religion or national affiliation.” Mr. Netanyahu added that “we cannot accept the idea that Jews will not have the right to live and purchase in all parts of Jerusalem.”
If Jews were prohibited from buying property in New York, London, Paris or Rome, there would be an international outcry. Why, Mr. Netanyahu wondered, should the standard be different for Jerusalem?
Mr. Obama is woefully wrong if he believes that his confrontational style will provide an incentive for the Palestinians and the members of the Arab League to resolve the Arab-Israeli dispute. It will simply reinforce the long-standing Arab belief that the U.S. can “deliver” Israel if it only has the will to do so, thereby reducing Arab incentives to make concessions in direct negotiations with Israel.
As if on cue, Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian National Authority, announced that he would not negotiate on any issue with the new Israeli government until Mr. Obama’s settlement conditions are met.
In addition to the building freeze in Jerusalem and the West Bank, Mr. Abbas insisted on four other unilateral, non-negotiable concessions: First, an independent Palestinian state; second, that Israel pulls back to its pre-June 1967 borders, minus a Palestinian land bridge between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; third, a Palestinian “right of return” to Israel; and fourth, resolution of all permanent status issues on the basis of the 2002 Abdullah plan calling on Arabs to normalize relations with Israel in return for Israel’s withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders. The “right of return,” in particular, is a non-starter.
If Mr. Obama seeks a Palestinian Arab state, he is going about it the wrong way. The fact is that Mr. Netanyahu has endorsed a two-state solution and an end to the expansion of settlements in the West Bank—as long as the Palestinians accept Israel as a legitimate Jewish state and cannot militarily threaten it. Israel has been willing to accept a two-state solution since the United Nations partition resolution for Palestine in 1947, but the Arabs have refused. They are not interested in creating a separate Palestinian Arab state but in destroying Israel as a Jewish state.
The Obama approach in the Middle East is predicated on what might be called the Arab “grievance narrative,” which holds that Israel was created as a result of Western guilt about the Holocaust. It is also based on the idea that, as the president suggested in his Cairo speech, there is moral equivalence between the Holocaust and Palestinian “dislocation.”
Such language illustrates an inability to make distinctions. Arabs launched a war against Jewish self-determination and the state of Israel long before any Israeli “occupation” of their lands. When Israel seized land in a defensive war, it was the Arabs, not the Israelis, who kept Palestinian “refugees” in limbo for three generations to await Israel’s destruction.
As Mr. Netanyahu reminded Mr. Obama after the latter’s Cairo speech, the Arab claim that Israel was a land grab by the great powers to salve the collective conscience of the West after the Holocaust is a slander. On the contrary, he observed, Israel’s right to its homeland rests on the longstanding historical connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. This right was ratified by the unanimous and legitimizing votes of the League of Nations and the U.N. Security Council’s permanent members, and validated by over 60 years of Israel’s successful, democratic statehood.
Israel’s “right to exist” was expressed best by Israeli diplomat Abba Eban in 1981. He wrote, “Israel’s right to exist, like that of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and 152 other states, is axiomatic and unreserved. Israel’s legitimacy is not suspended in midair, awaiting acknowledgment. . . . There is certainly no other state, big or small, young or old, that would consider mere recognition of its ‘right to exist’ a favor, or a negotiable concession.”
Mr. Netanyahu might also have added that Israel’s control of the West Bank (territory that should properly be called “disputed” rather than “occupied”), was the result of defeating the Arab powers who initiated the Six Day War of 1967. The status of aggressors and defenders is not interchangeable. Neither is the status of victorious powers and defeated ones.
Nonetheless, Israel has taken unilateral steps toward peace, steps not reciprocated by the Palestinians. When Israel unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip, dismantling 21 settlements and displacing over 9,000 residents, it conducted the most comprehensive test of the “land for peace” concept in the history of Israeli-Palestinian relations. Yet Israel was rewarded with the creation of a terrorist enclave governed by Hamas, rather than the peaceful, responsible neighbor Israel would need in order to accept a Palestinian Arab state.
Unlike Hamas, the corrupt Palestinian National Authority that holds sway in the West Bank has nominally accepted Israel’s right to exist but has never given up the “right of return” for Palestinian “refugees.” That right, if implemented, would mean the end of Israel’s existence.
Peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians requires compromises on both sides. U.S. pressure on Israel, without any on the Palestinians, will not achieve the desired outcome.
Earlier this summer, the president justified his decision to downplay even rhetorical support for the Iranian protesters who rose up against their government and its fraudulent election. He did not wish the U.S. to appear to be “meddling” in Iranian affairs. He apparently feels no similar constraint when it comes to Israel.
Mr. Owens is editor of Orbis, the quarterly journal of the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
2a) Obama Lied Early And Often About Israel
By Jonathan Mark
Here’’s an item from the Los Angeles Times, April 10, 2008, during the campaign: “Even as he won support in Chicago’s Palestinian community, Obama tried to forge ties with advocates for Israel. In 2000, he submitted a policy paper to CityPAC, a pro-Israel political action committee, that among other things supported a unified Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a position far out of step from that of his Palestinian friends. The PAC concluded that Obama’s position paper “suggests he is strongly pro-Israel on all of the major issues.”
Obama’s campaign volunteers within Jewish organizations and the Jewish media pointed to endorsements such as that one, endorsements over the course of seven years, to assuage Jewish fears about Obama.
Now here’s an item from this week: Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, was summoned to the State Department to be scolded because Jews were building a house in Jerusalem.
Obama’s supporters often said “Bush lied.” Did Obama lie? When he was telling Jewish audiences for the better part of seven years that he believed in a united Israeli Jerusalem, did he mean it? Or can we trust Ali Abinemeh, editor of Electonic Intifada who wrote in March, 2008:
“Over the years since I first saw Obama speak I met him about half a dozen times, often at Palestinian and Arab-American community events in Chicago including a May 1998 community fundraiser at which Edward Said was the keynote speaker. In 2000, when Obama unsuccessfully ran for Congress I heard him speak at a campaign fundraiser hosted by a University of Chicago professor. On that occasion and others Obama was forthright in his criticism of US policy and his call for an even-handed approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
“The last time I spoke to Obama was in the winter of 2004 at a gathering in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. He was in the midst of a primary campaign to secure the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate seat he now occupies. But at that time polls showed him trailing.
“As he came in from the cold and took off his coat, I went up to greet him. He responded warmly, and volunteered, ‘Hey, I’m sorry I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I’m hoping when things calm down I can be more up front.” He referred to my activism, including columns I was contributing to the The Chicago Tribune critical of Israeli and US policy, ‘Keep up the good work!’”
Clearly, Obama wasn’t being upfront. He said so himself. Either he was telling lies to the Jewish PACS or he was telling lies to American Palestinians. And most Jewish journalists and most Jewish leaders were OK with that. They wanted him to win anyway. They exerted more energy debunking anonymous e-mails about Obama than they did on examining and publicizing Obama’s habit of saying one thing to Zionists and another thing to anti-Zionists, such as his friends at Electronic Intifada. Now that he’s president he’s finally being upfront. Most Israelis don’t like it. Most American Jews don’t care.
3) Health Care Reform: Fasten Your Seatbelts -- Congress is at the Wheel
By Walter Shapiro
The truest legislative assessment of the prospects for health care reform was uttered by none other than Bette Davis in "All About Eve:"
"Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night."
Just when it seemed like Congress was going to slink into its August recess with everything in suspended animation, both Senate and House negotiators reported unexpected progress Wednesday afternoon in easing bills through key committees.
The Senate Finance Committee proudly announced that it had whacked $100 billion off the projected 10-year, $1-trillion cost of the proposed legislation. The House Energy and Commerce Committee also reported that it had cut a deal with moderate Blue Dog Democrats to limit the sweep of the bill and to curtail the scope of a government-run health plan that would compete with private insurers.
While Barack Obama's August deadline had long ago drifted off on a summer's breeze, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confidently issued a mid-afternoon statement, promising that the legislation would emerge from the Energy and Commerce Committee this week. But then liberals on the committee rebelled at the concessions to the Blue Dogs over watering down the public option – thereby postponing, at least until Thursday, work on the bill.
(We interrupt this story to offer an updated Surgeon General's warning: "Trying to follow these legislative machinations is dangerous to your health and sanity.")
The best way to understand the health care battles ahead is to remember what Vermont Sen. George Aiken shrewdly recommended as the American strategy at the height of the Vietnam War: "Just declare victory and go home." The White House and the congressional Democratic leadership are too committed to passing a bill to ever admit defeat. So whatever ungainly, mud-caked mess finally emerges from the legislative quagmire, Obama and Company are going to face an irresistible temptation to declare victory and call it health care reform.
Media consultants and pollsters who advise vulnerable Democratic legislators are reluctant to antagonize the White House by talking on the record about the political pressures that their clients face in backing Obama on health care. But before this legislative crusade is over, many Democrats elected from traditionally Republican states or districts will face a long, dark night of the soul over the health care bill.
The political dangers for Democrats come in all shapes and sizes. There is what might be called the Page 579 Problem – a minor provision buried in the intricacies of the health care bill could morph into a potent symbol of governmental excess when demonized in 30-second Republican attack ads. Sticker shock may also be an obstacle. No matter how it is paid for, voters may balk at the federal government spending, say, $900 billion for anything (even free drinking cups from the fountain of youth). Another political risk could come from the Medicare meltdown as voters over 65 (quite happy with their government-run medical care, thank you) angrily protest any potential cutbacks in their favorite program, wedged in under the guise of reducing overall health care costs.
The truth is that – no matter how many town meetings and press conferences Obama holds – health care reform will remain an abstraction until there is an actual bill summary that voters can analyze. That is why polls during this phase of legislative jousting should be viewed with caution since they are riddled with hypothetical questions. (A New York Times/CBS News poll released Wednesday found that 46 percent of the voters approve and 38 disapprove of the way Obama is handling health care.) But the real political test will come in the fall. A Democratic strategist explains, "Then the big question that voters will ask about the bill is 'What's in it for me?'"
Beneath the widespread altruistic belief that health care is a basic human right lays a self-interested personal cost-benefit analysis. This was equally true during Bill and Hillary Clinton's ill-fated 1993 drive to pass health care reform. As pollster Stan Greenberg, who advised Clinton during his first term, recalls in a New Republic article, "Judging whether the plan would help or hurt one's family suddenly became the dominant predictor... of support for or opposition to the Clinton health care plan."
Top Democrats make the argument to each other that if the party this time around cannot pass health care reform – the Holy Grail since Harry Truman – it will face a rebellion from voters for over-promising and legislative ineptitude. As 34-year-old Virginia Democrat Tom Perriello, who defeated a six-term GOP incumbent in 2008, puts it, "The most important thing to keep in mind is that a lot of the freshman class got elected by running for problem-solving over partisanship." Perriello, who supports the public option, is staunchly in favor of reform even though he is among the 60 Democratic incumbents targeted by a Republican National Committee radio ad that ridicules Obama's proposals as "a dangerous experiment."
There are actually Democratic insiders who believe that passing health care reform is more politically important going into the congressional elections than even the economy. In contrast, Republican pollster David Winston, who advises the congressional GOP leadership, persuasively argues, "This is ultimately going to be an election about jobs. And there's going to be one number that people will follow – and that's the unemployment rate."
An under-appreciated problem facing Democrats in passing legislation is that many of the benefits will not kick in until after Obama runs for a second term in 2012. Yes, not until after the 2012 elections. Under the original and more liberal version of the House bill, the uninsured would not receive government subsidies to purchase their own health insurance until 2013, nor would the public plan be established until then. (Medicare, in contrast, was up and running 11 months after Lyndon
Johnson signed the legislation in 1965).
Part of the delay would be from the sheer complexity of setting up the elaborate system of rewards and penalties that will be needed to move the nation close to providing health care for all Americans. If, for example, large employers would be mandated to provide health insurance for their workers, that requirement could not be levied overnight. Also, under current congressional budget rules, the longer it takes for a program to fully take effect, the less the purported cost would be over 10 years. So as the health care legislation inevitably gets whittled down during House and Senate negotiations, the phase-in period is apt to be further extended in order to reduce cost estimates.
Obama is also grappling with the "Why Now?" dilemma. At a town meeting Wednesday in Raleigh, N.C., the president repeated his refrain that the status quo is unsustainable. "If we do nothing," Obama declared, "I can almost guarantee you your (health insurance) premiums will double over the next 10 years, because that's what they did over the last 10 years." It is nearly impossible to argue with this long-term math. The problem for the president – and the congressional Democrats – is that it is hard to create a sense of this-is-the-moment urgency to pass legislation designed to ward off problems that are still just over the horizon.
None of this is designed to argue that Obama-style health care reform is unattainable in political terms or undesirable in policy terms. But even with lopsided Democratic congressional majorities, even with the president's mastery of the bully pulpit, even with Wednesday's small-step legislative progress, the legislative struggle over the next few months will be daunting. So fasten your seatbelts -- the real action on Capitol Hill has only just begun.
4) We, The People, Are Coming!!
This 53 year old mother and grandmother has given us a voice. (Her letter was read on the Glenn Beck show.)
GLENN BECK: I got a letter from a woman in Arizona. She writes an
open letter to our nation's leadership: I'm a home grown American
citizen, 53, registered Democrat all my life. Before the last
presidential election I registered as a Republican because I no longer
felt the Democratic Party represents my views or works to pursue
issues important to me. Now I no longer feel the Republican Party
represents my views or works to pursue issues important to me. The
fact is I no longer feel any political party or representative in
Washington represents my views or works to pursue the issues important to me. There must be someone. Please tell me who you are. Please stand up and tell me that you are there and that you're willing to fight for our Constitution as it was written. Please stand up now.
You might ask yourself what my views and issues are that I would
horribly feel so disenfranchised by both major political parties.
What kind of nut job am I? Will you please tell me? Well, these are
briefly my views and issues for which I seek representation:
One, illegal immigration. I want you to stop coddling illegal
immigrants and secure our borders. Close the underground tunnels.
Stop the violence and the trafficking in drugs and people. No
amnesty, not again. Been there, done that, no resolution. P.S. I'm
not a racist. This isn't to be confused with legal immigration.
Two, the TARP bill, I want it repealed and I want no further funding
supplied to it. We told you no, but you did it anyway. I want the
remaining unfunded 95% repealed. Freeze, repeal.
Three: Czars, I want the circumvention of our checks and balances
stopped immediately. Fire the czars. No more czars.. Government
officials answer to the process, not to the president.. Stop trampling
on our Constitution and honor it.
Four, cap and trade. The debate on global warming is not over.
There is more to say.
Five, universal healthcare. I will not be rushed into another
expensive decision. Don't you dare try to pass this in the middle of
the night and then go on break. Slow down!
Six, growing government control. I want states rights and
sovereignty fully restored. I want less government in my life, not
more. Shrink it down. Mind your own business. You have enough to
take care of with your real obligations. Why don't you start there?
Seven, ACORN. I do not want ACORN and its affiliates in charge of
our 2010 census. I want them investigated. I also do not want
mandatory escrow fees contributed to them every time on every real
estate deal that closes. Stop the funding to ACORN and its affiliates
pending impartial audits and investigations. I do not trust them with
taking the census over with our taxpayer money. I don't trust them
with our taxpayer money.. Face up to the allegations against them and get it resolved before taxpayers get any more involved with them. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, hello. Stop protecting
your political buddies. You work for us, the people. Investigate.
Eight, redistribution of wealth. No, no, no. I work for my money.
It is mine. I have always worked for people with more money than I
have because they gave me jobs. That is the only redistribution of
wealth that I will support. I never got a job from a poor person.
Why do you want me to hate my employers? Why—what do you have against shareholders making a profit?
Nine, charitable contributions. Although I never got a job from a
poor person, I have helped many in need. Charity belongs in our local
communities, where we know our needs best and can use our local talent and our local resources. Butt out, please. We want to do it
Ten, corporate bailouts. Knock it off. Sink or swim like the rest
of us. If there are hard times ahead, we'll be better off just
getting into it and letting the strong survive. Quick and painful.
Have you ever ripped off a Band-Aid? We will pull together. Great
things happen in America under great hardship. Give us the chance to innovate. We cannot disappoint you more than you have disappointed us.
Eleven, transparency and accountability. How about it? No, really,
how about it? Let's have it. Let's say we give the buzzwords a rest
and have some straight honest talk. Please try—please stop
manipulating and trying to appease me with clever wording. I am not
the idiot you obviously take me for. Stop sneaking around and meeting in back rooms making deals with your friends. It will only be a prelude to your criminal investigation. Stop hiding things from me.
Twelve, unprecedented quick spending. Stop it now. Take a breath.
Listen to the people. Let's just slow down and get some input from
some nonpoliticians on the subject. Stop making everything an
emergency. Stop speed reading our bills into law. I am not an
activist. I am not a community organizer. Nor am I a terrorist, a
militant or a violent person. I am a parent and a grandparent. I
work. I'm busy. I'm busy. I am busy, and I am tired. I thought we
elected competent people to take care of the business of government so that we could work, raise our families, pay our bills, have a little
recreation, complain about taxes, endure our hardships, pursue our
personal goals, cut our lawn, wash our cars on the weekends and be
responsible contributing members of society and teach our children to be the same all while living in the home of the free and land of the
I entrusted you with upholding the Constitution. I believed in the
checks and balances to keep from getting far off course. What
happened? You are very far off course. Do you really think I find
humor in the hiring of a speed reader to unintelligently ramble all
through a bill that you signed into law without knowing what it
contained? I do not. It is a mockery of the responsibility I have
entrusted to you. It is a slap in the face. I am not laughing at your
arrogance. Why is it that I feel as if you would not trust me to make
a single decision about my own life and how I would live it but you
should expect that I should trust you with the debt that you have laid
on all of us and our children? We did not want the TARP bill. We
said no. We would repeal it if we could. I am sure that we still
cannot. There is such urgency and recklessness in all of the recent
From my perspective, it seems that all of you have gone insane. I
also know that I am far from alone in these feelings. Do you honestly
feel that your current pursuits have merit to patriotic Americans? We
want it to stop.. We want to put the brakes on everything that is
being rushed by us and forced upon us. We want our voice back. You have forced us to put our lives on hold to straighten out the mess
that you are making. We will have to give up our vacations, our time
spent with our children, any relaxation time we may have had and money we cannot afford to spend on you to bring our concerns to Washington.
Our president often knows all the right buzzword is unsustainable.
Well, no kidding. How many tens of thousands of dollars did the focus group cost to come up with that word? We don't want your overpriced words. Stop treating us like we're morons.
We want all of you to stop focusing on your reelection and do the
job we want done, not the job you want done or the job your party
wants done. You work for us and at this rate I guarantee you not for
long because we are coming. We will be heard and we will be
represented. You think we're so busy with our lives that we will
never come for you? We are the formerly silent majority, all of us
who quietly work , pay taxes, obey the law, vote, save money, keep our noses to the grindstone and we are now looking up at you. You have awakened us, the patriotic spirit so strong and so powerful that it had been sleeping too long.. You have pushed us too far. Our numbers are great. They may surprise you. For every one of us who will be there, there will be hundreds more that could not come. Unlike you, we have their trust. We will represent them honestly, rest assured…
They will be at the polls on voting day to usher you out of office. We
have cancelled vacations. We will use our last few dollars saved. We
will find the representation among us and a grassroots campaign will
flourish. We didn't ask for this fight. But the gloves are coming
off. We do not come in violence, but we are angry. You will
represent us or you will be replaced with someone who will. There are candidates among us when he will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes that you have made of our constitution.
Democrat, Republican, independent, libertarian. Understand this.
We don't care. Political parties are meaningless to us. Patriotic
Americans are willing to do right by us and our Constitution and that
is all that matters to us now. We are going to fire all of you who
abuse power and seek more. It is not your power. It is ours and we
want it back… We entrusted you with it and you abused it. You are
dishonorable. You are dishonest. As Americans we are ashamed of you.
You have brought shame to us. If you are not representing the wants
and needs of your constituency loudly and consistently, in spite of
the objections of your party, you will be fired. Did you hear? We no
longer care about your political parties. You need to be loyal to us,
not to them. Because we will get you fired and they will not save
If you do or can represent me, my issues, my views, please stand up.
Make your identity known. You need to make some noise about it.
Speak up. I need to know who you are. If you do not speak up, you
will be herded out with the rest of the sheep and we will replace the
whole damn congress if need be one by one. We are coming. Are we
coming for you? Who do you represent? What do you represent?
Listen. Because we are coming. We the people are coming.