- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 22, 2009

HOLLOW PROMISE

“With the public’s trust in his handling of health care tanking (50-44 percent of Americans disapprove), the White House has launched a new phase of its strategy designed to pass Obamacare: all Obama, all the time. As part of that effort, Obama hosted a conference call with leftist bloggers urging them to pressure Congress to pass his health plan as soon as possible,” the Heritage Foundation’s Conn Carroll writes at www.heritage.org.

“During the call, a blogger from Maine said he kept running into an Investor’s Business Daily article that claimed Section 102 of the House health legislation would outlaw private insurance. He asked: ‘Is this true? Will people be able to keep their insurance and will insurers be able to write new policies even though H.R. 3200 is passed?’ President Obama replied: ‘You know, I have to say that I am not familiar with the provision you are talking about.’

“This is a truly disturbing admission by the president, especially considering that later in the call, Obama promises yet again: ‘If you have health insurance, and you like it, and you have a doctor that you like, then you can keep it. Period.’ How can Obama keep making this promise if he is not familiar with the health legislation that is being written in Congress? Details matter.

“We are familiar with the passage IBD sites, and as we wrote last week, the House bill does not outright outlaw private individual health insurance, but it does effectively regulate it out of existence,” the writer said.

SUICIDE MARCH

“We’re only in the early stages of the liberal suicide march, but there already have been three phases,” New York Times columnist David Brooks writes.

“First, there was the stimulus package. You would have thought that a stimulus package would be designed to fight unemployment and stimulate the economy during a recession. But Congressional Democrats used it as a pretext to pay for $787 billion worth of pet programs with borrowed money. Only 11 percent of the money will be spent by the end of the fiscal year - a triumph of ideology over pragmatism,” Mr. Brooks said.

“Then there is the budget. Instead of allaying moderate anxieties about the deficits, the budget is expected to increase the government debt by $11 trillion between 2009 and 2019.

“Finally, there is health care. Every cliche Ann Coulter throws at the Democrats is gloriously fulfilled by the Democratic health care bills. The bills do almost nothing to control health care inflation. They are modeled on the Massachusetts health reform law that is currently coming apart at the seams precisely because it doesn’t control costs. They do little to reward efficient providers and reform inefficient ones.

“The House bill adds $239 billion to the federal deficit during the first 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. It would pummel small businesses with an 8 percent payroll penalty. It would jack America’s top tax rate above those in Italy and France. Top earners in New York and California would be giving more than 55 percent of earnings to one government entity or another.

Nancy Pelosi has lower approval ratings than Dick Cheney and far lower approval ratings than Sarah Palin. And yet Democrats have allowed her policy values to carry the day - this in an era in which independents dominate the electoral landscape.

“Who’s going to stop this leftward surge? Months ago, it seemed as if Obama would lead a center-left coalition. Instead, he has deferred to the Old Bulls on Capitol Hill on issue after issue.”

HYPERPARTISAN

“Only last summer we were told that Barack Obama’s political appeal rested on his vision for a ‘post-partisan future.’ The post-partisan future was one of the press corps’ favorite phrases. It served as shorthand for the candidate’s repeated references to ‘unity of purpose,’ looking beyond a red or blue America, and so on,” Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn writes.

“Six months into the president’s term, you don’t read much about this post-partisan future anymore. It may be because on almost every big-ticket legislative item (the stimulus, climate change, and now health care), Mr. Obama has been pushing a highly ideological agenda with little (and in some cases zero) support from across the aisle. Yet far from stating the obvious - that sitting in the Oval Office is a very partisan president - the press corps is allowing Mr. Obama to evade the issue by coming up with novel redefinitions,” Mr. McGurn said.

“The redefinition started during the stimulus debate, but it really picked up steam late last month with David Axelrod’s appearance on ABC’s ‘This Week.’ There the president’s chief strategist explained that a bill didn’t need Republican votes to be ‘bipartisan’; it was enough if Republican ‘ideas’ were included. A few days earlier, Rahm Emanuel had offered reporters another redefinition, suggesting that a bill was bipartisan if people merely ‘saw the president trying’ to get Republicans on board.

“The president himself endorsed this redefinition during Rose Garden remarks delivered after a Senate committee passed a health care bill on a strictly party-line vote. Perhaps only someone who truly embraces ‘the audacity of hope’ could see healthy bipartisanship at work in the complete lack of GOP votes.”

WIPEOUT

Barack Obama has a knack for riding political waves,” Howard Fineman writes at www.newsweek.com.

“I put that down to his upbringing in Hawaii, where surfing is second nature. He also yearns to make history. I put that down to his time as editor of the Harvard Law Review, where it dawned on him that a son of a Kenyan and Kansan could be president, and a path-breaker in the process. But now the president’s skill at riding well-timed waves into history is being tested. In fact, he’s in danger of wiping out. The reason is health care reform. Why? Because his timing isn’t good and his plan, at least what we’ve seen so far, isn’t ‘reform,’ ” Mr. Fineman said.

“Obama and his aides, fearing a loss of momentum, are trying to stoke a sense of urgency in hopes that the Senate will feel compelled to pass a 1,000-page-plus measure before its August recess. I asked a very plugged-in Hill Democrat whether the Senate would do so. ‘Less and less likely,’ he said. That doesn’t mean that health care reform is dead. It does mean at best that the fall is going to be dominated by a ferocious national debate, and that the outcome is far from clear.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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