Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Placebo President

In early March, President Obama gave a speech on Healthcare reform proclaiming that the time for talk is over. He declared that everything that is to be said about the bill has been said. The only thing remaining, according to Mr. Obama, is a simple up or down vote. The President has since made four campaign style stops talking about only healthcare. His aides have been on all Sunday talk shows to talk about healthcare. So it seems the time for talk is over only if you oppose the healthcare bill. Just like he did in the so called bipartisan summit, Obama has appointed himself judge and jury on the subject of healthcare. He tells you what the truth is and what is misleading political falsehood. He is the only all-knowing and objective arbitrator on this issue. Everyone else is either misinformed or trying to misinform.

The healthcare reform conversation has been reduced to the legalities of the tricks the Democrats want to use to pass it. The bill's actual substance is an afterthought. No one is disputing the fact that ten years of taxation provides only six years of benefits. Neither has anyone explained how $500 billion from Medicare cuts will be used to pay for half of this massive entitlement and then the same half a trillion dollars will be used to keep Medicare solvent. The administration has not been confronted on how the right to chose does not extend to health insurance. Under this plan, one is forced to purchase a private service as mandated by the government (advantages of which could include helping pay for a registered sex offender's hip replacement). Of course this is all dismissed as distractions and obstructionist tactics of Republicans. The only thing the Democrats seem to be concerned about is how to pass a bill before the recess. The level of
desperation Obama and the Democrats have reached is embarrassing. At this point, almost anything will get the president’s signature as long it is labeled Healthcare reform.

Congressional Democrats have completely dropped the pretense of trying to form a coalition or negotiating in good faith or listening to the public. In fact the major reason to get a bill passed
before Easter is to avoid a redux of the town halls the Democrats faced last year. They have locked out Republicans from the conversation and also given up on Democrats who oppose the bill on principle (abortion language, cost, and special deals). Their new target is liberal Democrats who voted ‘No’ the first time. They are planning to use sleight of hand tricks in manipulating process and inventing rules to pass the bill without actually voting on the Senate bill. This farce sets a dangerous precedent for the future but the healthcare obsession has blinded the Democrats to any such concern.

President Obama is doing his part in this opaque and politically motivated process. He is
offering rides on Air Force One to coax Congressmen to vote in favor of healthcare. Mr. Obama constantly reminds people about how urgent the need for reform is. In fact it is so urgent that the benefits from the reform won't kick in until 2014. He also manages to keep a straight face when he insists that people will see the magical effects of his trillion dollar entitlement only after the bill passes. Last week the White House announced that now it does not oppose the special deals given to certain states. This easy malleability of principle is the hallmark of this President. He stands up for something unless it is politically expedient to back down.

deception and blatant arm twisting that includes threats of mounting a primary candidate against the 'No' votes will probably help Ms. Pelosi sneak this radioactive legislation through. However it must be noted how much further the political process has devolved since Obama became President. The problems in Washington are not exactly a revelation. Everyone was aware of the fractured nature of things, including Obama when he ran as the change agent. He was supposed to fix the problems; instead he has doubled down on the old ways without losing a step. It takes skill to constantly decry the entrenched partisan ways of Washington while running a healthcare reform process that comprises of special deals for the drug industry through lobbyists, unsavory deals to win Senate votes, budgetary tricks to hide costs, and a total lack of bipartisanship.

The saintly rhetoric from a year ago has given way to a ridiculous reality show that a frustrated public has no choice but watch because, well, they can't find jobs. The placebo effects of the Obama experiment are long gone and voters have realized that instead of a real cure for the ills of Washington, all they got was a sugar pill.