Health Care, Part 2

For all the information swirling around about the omnibus health care reform bill there has been one consistent pattern:  American’s are not overwhelmingly in favor of the measure.  Nor is a plurality in favor of the reform bill.  Here is a run down of what Rasmussen Reports discovered:

  • 55% of voters nationwide oppose the bill
  • For 5 straight weeks support for the health care reform bill has been between 38% and 41%
  • 60% of seniors are opposed to the bill
  • 19% strongly favor the bill while 45% strongly oppose
  • 53% believe the bill will lower the quality of care
  • 58% believe it will drive costs up
  • 66% believe an increase in free market competition will do more to lower costs than government intervention

While the figures are not overwhelming against health care reform the final point is enlightening.  Despite the disparagement of the private sector since the September 2008 financial collapse by Democrats and liberals, faith in the ability of the private sector to solve problems remains high.  The fact that this figure is health care specific speaks to a  general distrust in the reliability of government and the reliability of a relatively unhindered private sector.  I am very encouraged.

The actions of Congressional Democrats seem to suggest they are going ahead with the omnibus health care reform bill regardless of public opinion.  To some extent there is a little wiggle room but not enough to push through an enormous bill like HR 3200.  I see three reasons for this continued push.  The first is that since the 1970s politics has moved from roughly the center to more polar extremes of liberalism and conservatism.  Democrats are beholden not to the nation as a whole but to their constituents and the party and to please their constituents will govern not from the center but from the center-left/left.  The second is that the Congressional leadership is in safe districts.  This is not entirely true in the Senate but is particularly true in the House where Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman, two leaders in pushing the bill, are unlikely to ever lose their seats unless they retire.  They do not have to worry about any other constituency but their liberal supporters and their own whims.

The third reason is two part.  Since the New Deal ushered in Social Security Insurance and the creation Medicare and Medicaid by LBJ we have been headed slowly towards a national health care system.  The Clinton’s failed in the first years of the 42nd President’s administration for a truly universal system but the march continued with President Bush’s overhaul of Medicare and now with Obama’s pledge to make health care truly universal.  The groundwork has been laid for a universal system.  This trend towards the universal system has made the current political opportunities even more appealing to progressives.  Democrats for the first time since 1994 control both houses of Congress and the Executive Branch and the time is ripe, politically, to make a move.  Included here is the simple fact that a bureaucracy, once created, is very difficult to remove.  If health care can be passed quickly, before any of the ramifications are known and the bill is fully scrutinized, then it will be nigh impossible to extract from the fabric of America.

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