William Saletan has an excellent article in Slate, pointing out what everyone seems to be missing: President Obama and Congress passed a desperately-needed health care reform bill. We haven’t had such a successful reform since Lyndon B. Johnson twisted enough arms to get Medicare signed into law, over loud objections from the Republicans. Republicans, of course, love their entitlement program…it has something to do with people old enough to get it being more likely to vote for them. Medicare (along with Social Security) is untouchable, right up there with the defense budget.
A party that loses a House seat can win it back two years later, as Republicans just proved. But a party that loses a legislative fight against a middle-class health care entitlement never restores the old order. Pretty soon, Republicans will be claiming the program as their own. Indeed, one of their favorite arguments against this year’s health care bill was that it would cut funding for Medicare. Now they’re pledging to rescind those cuts. In 30 years, they’ll be accusing Democrats of defunding Obamacare.
I am certain that President Obama will win another term. He has certainly earned it. He’d be a lot more popular if he’d gotten less done; his long list of accomplishments are the reason so many conservatives hate him. (How do they reconcile the Obama who knows nothing with the Obama who is actively and intentionally destroying the government he allegedly knows nothing about? The same way they demand the government keep its hands off of their Medicare and Social Security benefits.)
In March, when Democrats secured enough votes to pass the [health care reform] bill, [David Frum, former Bush speechwriter] castigated fellow conservatives who looked forward to punishing Pelosi and President Obama “with a big win in the November 2010 elections.”
Legislative majorities come and go. This healthcare bill is forever. A win in November is very poor compensation for this debacle now. … No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage?
I can answer those questions: Not enough. Not enough. Not enough.
The rumor mill has already hit the military boards. Although the reform bill explicitly stated that nothing in it would apply to TRICARE or the Department of Defense, the moment people heard that TRICARE was discussing ways to add kids up to the 26-year limit (currently children are eligible for medical care until 21 (not in school full-time) or 23 (full-time student or completely disabled), the numbers starting floating around. I saw the headline in the morning, and that afternoon my husband had already heard it was a mandatory $2000/year for each kid. It isn’t.