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June 19, 2009

Politico: ObamaCare in "Real Jeopardy"

Spend, spend, spend.

Public anxiety about red ink — muted during this winter’s debate over an economic stimulus package — has come roaring back, with a Gallup Poll showing deficits and spending as the only issues where more people disapprove of Obama’s performance than approve of it.

Republicans think the “borrow and spend” issue may be the biggest single vulnerability for Obama and the Democrats in the midterm congressional elections of 2010 and the presidential year of 2012. The president’s own advisers privately agree.

That’s one of the reasons Obama is emphasizing what he calls “savings” — otherwise known as cuts — that would help pay for his plans.

That is why Democrats admit that it was a public relations disaster this week when the Congressional Budget Office issued a report this week concluding, from a partial draft of a Senate health committee bill, that the plan would cost $1 trillion over 10 years but only provide coverage for 16 million of the estimated 50 million Americans who are uninsured.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a member of the health committee, said on Fox News Thursday that he considers the CBO finding “a devastating blow to the administration’s plan.”

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) now says Democrats will need to come up with a bill that costs less than $1 trillion — but many liberals say it would be meaningless to do something that small and leave so many people still uninsured.

Democratic Rep. Cooper writes that the plan is "on life support:"

[W]e are explicitly told not to work with Republicans.

Now, my personal belief is that Congress could begin marking up the bipartisan Wyden-Bennett Healthy Americans Act right away. Smart commentators like Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic and Ezra Klein at the Washington Post have praised this bill. It’s progressive, it’s bipartisan and it’s deficit-neutral.

All I know is that health care reform is on life support because the Senate can’t figure out how to pay for it. Jon Cohn and Ezra Klein are worried. I’m worried. And I’m speaking out today because I’ve been through a failed health care reform process before. We can’t afford to repeat those mistakes this year. Let’s follow President Obama’s lead and work together to finally provide health care to every American. And let’s do it right now.

"Those mistakes" refers to the 1993 HillaryCare failure. Cooper was a Congressman pushing for health care then, too.

Meanwhile the public isn't quite as hot for Hope and Change in health care as might have been thought. Public support for big changes is actually lower than it was in 1993, when Hillary's plan ended in Epic Fail.

A majority still says it's more important to expand care, but there was a +54 point advantage for "expand care" in 1994, and a mere +20 advantage for it now.

According to the Politico argument, many liberal Democrats feel that there's no point trying to craft a bipartisan bill (they're probably right, too) and so, of course, will table the issue until spending is controlled and we have the money to pay for this.

No, of course not. They want to ram it through on not just party-line votes, but liberal only party-line votes, losing moderate and conservative Democrats entirely (except for those few votes they can buy through bribes to get a razor-thin majority).

Michael Barone sees trouble for Obama on several fronts, including health care:

But consider these findings from the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll:

● 69% say they have a great deal or quite a bit of concern about government ownership of General Motors and a 56%-35% majority opposes government aid to General Motors in return for a share of its stock

● 58% say the president and Congress should concentrate on keeping the budget deficit down, even if it takes longer for the economy to recover

● when presented with arguments for and against a government health insurance plan, it was favored by only a 47%-42% margin

● when asked the most important economic issue facing the country, 24% chose the budget deficit and only 11% chose health care

● a 52%-39% majority opposes closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay

Or consider these findings from the CBS/New York Times poll:

● when asked to volunteer the most important problem facing the country, 38% said the economy, 19% said jobs and 7% said health care

● only 44% approve Obama’s handling of health care, while 34% disapprove

● only 41% approve his handling of the problems facing the auto industry, while 46% disapprove

● by a 52%-41% margin they prefer reducing the budget deficit to stimulating the economy

● only 30% think Obama has developed a clear plan for dealing with the budget deficit, while 60% believe he hasn’t

Polls keep indicating the public does not agree that health care is a "crisis," as Obama claims. They seem to think runaway budgets are something closer to a crisis, which his bank-breaking health care schemes would turn to 11.

Karl Rove thinks Obama's plan can be beaten, but only, he says, if Republicans have some kind of alternative to point to. Which they also won't be able to pass, but they can draw away support with a better alternative.

He endorses a plan by some Congressional Republicans which, unless I'm missing something, looks a lot like McCain's old plan, minus McCain's plan to tax health care benefits.

(Which was actually a tax cut in the net, because it came along with a government rebate for health care that would exceed the taxes paid for employer-provided health care by a fair amount for most people. In other words, if your employer provides your health care, you could use the tax rebate to pay the taxes on the health-care-given-as-compensation and put the excess of the rebate right in your pocket.

It makes little financial sense to give the rebate without taxing employer-provided benefits -- in the net, more deficit spending -- but 1) there's little chance of this passing anyway and 2) we need an attractive alternative and 3) people are dumb.)

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posted by Ace at 02:54 PM

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