- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Today is the six-month anniversary of President Obama’s signing into law of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, the Democrats’ reconciliation package that amended the Senate version of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and thereby concluded the first round of the health care reform debate. Six short months later, voters are posed to impose their own form of reconciliation on Nov. 2, readying to vote in a Republican Congress that would reconcile Obamacare by scrapping it and opening up the second round of the reform debate.

On this anniversary, it is important for us to remember exactly how the Democrats used reconciliation to shove Obamacare down the throats of the American people. The arcane budgetary process, created by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 to serve as way to reduce the budget deficit, only requires a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate, allowing the Democratic majority to bypass any need for Republican support for the bill.

Although both parties have used reconciliation outside of its original purpose to pass major legislative initiatives, never before this year had it been used without significant bipartisan support. For instance, both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush used reconciliation to pass tax cuts with sizable support from across the aisle. The final version of Obamacare didn’t gain one vote from Republicans in the Senate or the House. Not one.

And it’s not as simple as calling obstructionists Republicans who do not desire health care reform. GOP lawmakers repeatedly asked for bipartisan talks to find common-sense solutions both parties could support. Unfortunately, they were rejected repeatedly as Democrats were insistent on fundamentally restructuring one-sixth of our economy on their own.

The subsequent Obamacare bill they drafted imposes unconstitutional mandates, levies $500 billion in job-killing tax increases; steals more than $500 billion from Medicare; and guarantees a future fiscal train wreck. In response to these clearly destructive results, the American people rightfully rejected it in public opinion polls.

Yet the arrogance of the Democratic majority led the Democrats to press on, passing Obamacare through reconciliation because they refused to recognize the reality that no Republican was going to support a law the American people clearly rejected.

It didn’t have to be this way, and voters have sent a clear message that they won’t let it be this way. Opposition to Obamacare has grown stronger as the public learns more about what is in it and as endless news stories report about insurance companies raising premiums, job-creators sitting on their hands, and Snooki no longer able to go tanning.

According to the latest Rasmussen survey, a full 61 percent want Obamacare repealed and just 33 percent think the law is good for the country. Importantly, the intensity of opposition is dramatic among independent voters, with an Independent Women’s Forum survey finding health care to be the highest-intensity issue for 48 percent of respondents and 83 percent of all respondents opposing Obamacare.

Voters clearly are ready for Obamacare to face a Republican majority that will defund, repeal and replace the law with real reforms.

The unpopularity of Obamacare has been a shocking development to liberals. Leading up to the law’s passage, the president proclaimed that Democrats would be able to run on the issue in November, but Democratic candidates are running away from the law faster than their poll numbers are plummeting.

This has led Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to call for a public “re-education campaign” and the launch of a five-year, $25 million campaign by the administration’s allies to do just that. Their re-education efforts have focused on small but popular aspects of the law such as the extension of the age to which children can stay on their parents’ insurance, “free” preventative care, etc.

This approach could succeed only if the American people were somehow magically to forget about their greatest concern with health care - rising costs, which Obamacare utterly fails to address; it even is expected to raise costs through burdensome mandates and taxes. The law even fails to reach the primary benchmark the president set forth of universal coverage, leaving more than 26 million uninsured, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Voters are smarter than the left assumes. No amount of re-education from career politicians can reconcile the fundamental failures of Obamacare.

Rather than reconciliation, voters are readying to serve up some retribution against the lawmakers who forced the law upon us as our nation moves one step closer to scrapping it completely. However, a Republican president and 60 amenable senators are needed to repeal Obamacare fully, so it will take a long, hard-fought battle on behalf of the American people to see this through.

On this six-month anniversary of Obamacare, it is a fitting moment to anticipate Round 2 of reconciliation following Nov. 2.

Alex Cortes is chairman of DeFundIt.Org.

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