- - Friday, February 4, 2011

Edward Smith became known as “the millionaire’s captain” because the powerful of his day held him in almost mythical regard. When the estimable Capt. Smith was alerted to the dangers that lay ahead, he proceeded, undeterred, full steam ahead. His new ship, the Titanic, could not be sunk. A hundred years later, those piloting the USS Obamacare are discovering their own rough waters and the devastating ruling in the multistate lawsuit is just one of the icebergs they face.

With their 2009 filibuster-proof majority in Congress, the Democrats built their own massive vessel and raced it full steam ahead despite all the warning signs. In a classic YouTube moment, now former Illinois Democratic Rep. Phil Hare looked squarely into the camera and summed up his party’s approach to governing thusly: “I’m not worried about the Constitution on this.” When now former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked about the constitutionality of Obamacare, she incredulously replied, “Are you serious?” Full steam ahead!

Yes, Mrs. Pelosi, Americans indeed are serious about the Constitution. So is Florida federal District Judge Roger Vinson, who last week struck down the entirety of Obamacare as unconstitutional. Iceberg ahead! Of course, those plotting the health care waters surely should have known this particular danger would be lurking within Judge Vinson’s ruling: “I note that in 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama supported a health care reform proposal that did not include an individual mandate because he was at that time strongly opposed to the idea, stating that ‘if a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house.’ ” Ouch.

But there’s more.

President Obama’s own Medicare chief actuary declared last week that two of the central promises of Obamacare will not be kept. If this health care saga had a shocking courtroom scene, it would be the stunning moment last week when Chief Actuary Richard S. Foster admitted that the administration underestimated Medicare costs by more than $400 billion and that “about 20 million” Americans would lose their private insurance and be forced into the second-class coverage of Medicaid.

But there’s more.

American doctors, those who have dedicated their lives and taken the oath to serve, have sounded an alarm that Obamacare will undermine patient care. The National Physicians Survey results are in, and they are devastating. Doctors warn of increased insurance premiums, increased health care costs and increased overall spending. By a staggering margin of almost 10-1, doctors think Obamacare will have a negative impact.

Despite Mrs. Pelosi’s assurances to the contrary, patients are no more convinced of Obamacare’s virtues than are their doctors. A recent Gallup poll reveals that just 13 percent of Americans approve of Obamacare as it is written - 13 percent. There are more people who believe Elvis is still alive. There are more New York senators who can name all three branches of government than Americans who believe in Obamacare.

But there’s more.

Last month, the House passed H.R. 2, the aptly named Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act, with bipartisan support and by a larger margin than Obamacare had when it passed. Now, in a stunning display of solidarity with the American people, every Republican in the Senate has joined to co-sponsor his or her own repeal effort.

Waters will be even rougher for Obamacare in the Straits of Issa. As chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa will cast light on Obamacare’s backroom deals, the buried, damning reports, the shady accounting and more.

And now, facing the perils of its own making, how does this administration respond? Rather than acknowledge the disaster and unconstitutionality at the very core of its health care plan, it offers to tweak the edges - remove the onerous 1099 tax provision and make other such deck-chair rearrangements. These half measures can’t save the structurally flawed vessel, and Republicans shouldn’t fall for the trap of trying. Complete repeal is the only answer.

Almost 100 years later, the RMS Titanic remains the quintessential metaphor that symbolizes avoidable but inexorable downfall because of hubris and incompetence. In our new century, Obamacare may supplant it.

Dr. Milton R. Wolf is a board-certified diagnostic radiologist, medical director and cousin of President Obama. He blogs daily at miltonwolf.com.

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