Thursday, March 4, 2010

Obama-Care is Bipartisan

What? Obama-Care Bipartisan? Yes.

As of early March 2010, it appears likely that the Senate bill which passed on Christmas Eve 2009 will be approved in the House of Representatives and signed into law by President Obama. Subsequent reconciliation modifying the bill to meet objections of House members may or may not succeed. But the Senate bill is so far reaching that House modifications would not reduce in any meaningful way the federal government’s future control over health insurance and delivery of health care services.

How did this come to be? In November 2008, voters rebelled against Republican Members of Congress and President George W. Bush, having previously rebelled against Republicans in the November 2006 mid-term elections, handing control of both houses of Congress to Democrats. Republican losses in 2006 were largely due to six years of spend-and-spend. President Bush did not veto a single spending bill during 2001-06, even the bill with the "bridge to nowhere." They also enacted the largely unfunded Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit entitlement. Republicans under Bush turned several years of budget surpluses under Clinton into a string of endless deficits.

Democrat gains in the November 2008 elections were astonishing, well beyond the predictions of pundits, pollsters, politicians, and political scientists. Democrats won very close races in Montana (Jon Tester), Missouri (Claire McCaskill), Virginia (Jim Webb), New Jersey (Bob Menendez), Rhode Island (Lincoln Chafee), and Minnesota (Al Franken). Altogether Democrats won 59 seats (Lieberman caucuses with Democrats, raising the total to 60). Sixty is exactly the number needed for cloture to shut off filibusters and bring bills to the floor of the Senate for a vote that only requires 51 "ayes" for passage.

Republicans have only themselves to blame for Democrat control of the White House, a large majority in the House of Representatives, and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Republicans laid the foundation for Democrat governance, and passage of Medicare Part D removed a large measure of legitimacy required to successfully oppose Obama-Care. It is in this regard that Obama-Care can be said to be bipartisan.

If Obama-Care in any form becomes law, stay tuned for an analysis of new and higher taxes.

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