Shortly after the Senate voted to proceed on the massive federal takeover of health care, I ran this post with excerpts from Dan Balz's column in the Washington Post describing the political fallout House and Senate Democrats could expect from their naked partisan effort to ram this bill through. Also writing in the Washington Post Columnist Robert Samuelson describes how these efforts are damaging Obama:
A Parody of LeadershipObama is the only president in my lifetime to make Jimmy Carter look good by comparison!
By Robert Samuelson
Real Clear Politics
December 21, 2009
WASHINGTON -- 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.
Even if Congress passes legislation -- a good bet -- 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.
It already has. Despite Obama's eloquence and command of the airwaves, public suspicions are rising. In April, 57 percent of Americans approved of his "handling of health care" and 29 percent disapproved, reports The Washington Post-ABC News poll; in the latest survey, 44 percent approved and 53 percent disapproved. About half worried that their care would deteriorate and that health costs would rise.
Obama's plan amounts to this: partial coverage of the uninsured; modest improvements (possibly) in their health; sizable budgetary costs worsening a bleak outlook; significant, unpredictable changes in insurance markets; weak spending control. This is a bad bargain. Benefits are overstated, costs understated. This legislation is a monstrosity; the country would be worse for its passage. What it's become is an exercise in political symbolism: Obama's self-indulgent crusade to seize the liberal holy grail of "universal coverage." What it's not is leadership.
Read it all here.