Monday, July 13, 2009

Tea Party Revolt, Conservative Revolt, - Something's Going on Out There with Health Reform

There’s something going on out there on health reform.. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s there.

Recent polls indicate twice as many Americans consider themselves as conservative rather than liberal. There’s growing concerns about the economy vis a vis health reform, as unemployment nears 10%. There’s a sense that the $787 billion stimulus isn’t stimulating.

Three conservative books or at or near the top of the New York Times best seller book list: #1 Catastrophe: How Obama, Congress, and The Special Interess are Transforming…A Slump into a Crash, Freedom into Socialist5m, and a Disaster into A Catastrophe, by Dick Morris and Eileen McCann, #2 Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto, and The Last Best Hope: Restoring Conversatisim and America’s Promise, by Joe Scarborough. And among respected pundits – David Broder, Michael Barone, George Will, and Al Hunt – there’s general agreement that President Obama will not get a health care bill to sign by the August recess, maybe not even by the end of 2009.

What May Be Going On

What’s going on, I believe, are public fears that.

• Big government spending and huge federal budget deficits imperil their future (in the words of Robert Samuelson in the July 13 Newsweek, “We face the consequences of much bigger government. Certainly higher taxes for future Americans. Probably a less robust economy. The CBO notes that elevated deficits would penalize saving, investment and income, while unprecedented tax burdens could "slow the growth of the economy, making the (government's) spending burden harder to bear." To such warnings, Americans' collective response is: Go away.”

• Government bureaucrats, not doctors, will dictate who get care and what that care will be.

• Rationing of care, disguised as “efficient care” or “evidence-based care,” will result in age cut-offs for procedures like cataracts, cardiac stents, or joint replacements, or treatments for cancer.

• Replacement or loss of current private coverage or limits of choice or “freedoms” to choose one’s doctor or hospitals or caregivers.

These may well be unrealistic concerns, but they are there. As Gertrude Stein would say, there may be no there there. But uncertainties and growing lack of confidence are there, and that’s what counts in politics.

There’s another concern as well. And that is, that President Obama is defying certain fundamental universal laws.

• The Law of Isaac Newton, that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction, in this case, the mobilization of lobbyists for hospitals, doctors, health plans, and drug companies, who stand to be badly hurt by Obama’s sweeping proposals to restructure the entire health care industry, the largest single employer and the only growing employer in the American economy.

The Laws of Thermodynamics, which say there is only so much energy in any system, there is always waste (entropy), and the system never goes to absolute zero. Translated, this means we can never find the money or wring out or bring to zero all the waste, fraud, and abuse to finance free entitlement systems like Medicare and Medicaid (J.K. Iglehart, “Finding Money for Health Reform – Rooting Out Waste. Fraud, and Abuse, “ NEJM, July 16, 2009)

• The Law of Gravity, which states that everything that rises too high or hovers over the ground must ultimately come back to earth. This applies to politics, where it called the end of the political honeymoon.


According to Rex Murphy in the July 13 Globe Mail, President Obama is a political trapeze artist. He has flown above the rest of us with the greatest of ease, a daring young man on a flying trapeze.

In six months, President Obama has (a) transformed the U.S. economy by massive federal government interventions, (b) taken an owner's stake in the automobile industry, (c) changed the rules of America's energy economy, (d) promised to institute a national health-care system. And he has done all of these things simultaneously and in the midst of a financial meltdown.

He has done this with cries of absolute urgency with reckless and daring haste, passed massive bills before political opponents had time to read them, and he has pushed a swollen political debt beyond all previous records.

Obama has executed the greatest trapeze act in the history of American politics, but now, with nothing to show for it in stimulating the economy, with unemployment still rising, his vaunted health reform act in gridlock because of no plausible plan of how to pay for it, and concern growing about the magnitude of federal debt, the law of gravity is beginning to kick in.

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