By U.S. Congressman Kevin Brady (R - TX)
Those of us who grew up watching ABC’s Wide World of Sports painfully recall the iconic image of Slovenian ski jumper Vinko Bogotaj’s spectacular limp-bodied crash forever memorialized as the “agony of defeat”.
Forty years to the day after Bogotaj’s horrendous spill, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her whip team careen headlong toward a scheduled Sunday vote in the U.S. House on the their disastrous — and widely reviled — government takeover of health care.
The vote will undoubtedly be close. The Speaker’s problem, as well as President Obama’s, is not that they can’t sell this baffling health care plan to Republicans. Their problem is that they can’t sell it to fellow Democrats — or to the American public.
Americans see beyond the false choices offered by the President when he cries “We can’t afford to do nothing.” Doing nothing has never been an option. Republicans support reform. So do most Americans.
But is this massive $2 trillion tax-and-mandate health care bureaucracy the best we can do? Absolutely not.
Real reform doesn’t require $569 billion in new tax increases on families and small businesses, slashing over $400 billion from Medicare, the creation of hundreds of new federal programs and agencies and an all-powerful health care czar.
Real reform shouldn’t force individuals and businesses to buy ‘government approved’ health care or require the IRS to hire over 16,000 new agents just to enforce all the new mandates and taxes. Couldn’t we use 16,000 more doctors and nurses instead?
The wrong path to reform is to raise the cost of health care on those who have it in order to give it to those who don’t. Our focus, first and foremost, should be to lower health care costs so more people can afford it and fewer are uninsured.
A better solution is sitting in front of the president and can be voted on this weekend. It’s H.R. 4038 - the step-by-step approach advocated by House Republicans. Built upon the advice of leaders of the Texas Medical Center who advocate retaining the best of America’s current system while carefully addressing it’s complex shortfalls, H.R. 4038 is the only major reform bill the Congressional Budget Office confirms will actually lower health care premiums — by up to 10 percent.
The public knows the Democrat bill is filled with budget gimmicks that will ultimately bankrupt the nation or lead to health care rationing in future years when promises exceed revenues.
Taxpayers are especially worried because they understand Washington is already far short of keeping Medicare and Social Security solvent or even fully funding veterans care. Texas taxpayers could be hit with up to $24 billion in unfunded Medicaid mandates in just the first ten years of the Democrat bill.
Americans aren’t easily fooled. They know that Democrats in Washington aren’t completely blameless when it comes to who’s responsible for driving health care costs up to unsustainable levels.
Fueled by labor and lawyer contributions, Democrats have for decades successfully killed lawsuit reform and efforts to allow small businesses to join together to buy insurance at discounted rates. As champions of government mandates that have driven up health care premiums and union contracts that demand unsustainable health benefits, Democrats have fought voraciously against reasonable efforts to contain health care costs through competition and more choices.
Yet today Democrats in Washington now proudly yield the sword of massive government expansion to tame the health care beast they have so assiduously fed.
Even if the powerful combination of threats, union paybacks and back room deals ultimately produce 216 votes on Sunday, the fight isn’t over. Nor are the consequences.
The images of Washington Democrats running from health care town halls, hiding from C-SPAN cameras, slipping in sweetheart deals and arrogantly ignoring the voices of their constituents is also indelibly etched into the public’s mind.
It’s a disturbing picture the American people won’t easily forget.
Regardless of the outcome this weekend Congressional Democrats may yet experience their own electoral ‘agony of defeat’ down the road.
Congressman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) is on the House Ways & Means Committee and Senior House Republican on the Joint Economic Committee.