President Obama's health reform surtax will push U.S. tax rates higher than they are in France and Italy.
How does a 51% tax rate sound to you? In the midst of a recession, the government wants more than half, to fund a $1.6 Trillion plan that leaves tens of millions uninsured.
Members of Congress could get fired for these numbers. (In fact, the last time the Democrats tried to reform health care, under President Clinton, they lost 56 seats.) And the polls are beginning to turn south. As Politico reports "Independents begin to edge away from Obama. "“They’re saying, ‘Costing too much, no results, see the downside, not sure of the upside,’” according to a Democratic pollster.
Specific complaints are excessive cost and too much government control. Describing the change in opinion as a "sea-change" Politico reports:
“This is a huge sea change that is playing itself out in American politics,” said Democratic pollster Doug Schoen. “Independents who had become effectively operational Democrats in 2006 and 2008 are now up for grabs and are trending Republican."
In another echo of the Clinton health care experience for the Democratic Party, their normal 15 point lead on the issue of the health care over Republicans has shrunk to a 4 point lead. (Oh Dude!.)
Just weeks ago, California tax-increase ballot measures went down in flames by margins of more than 60% during the greatest budget crunch in the state's history. The last time a tax revolt began in California in the 1980s, it swept the country. What do you think a 51% tax rate will do? Moderate Hill staff are reacting with either glee (GOP) or head shaking shock/horror (Dem). The Republicans are practically high-fiving in their offices. They are rubbing their hands in glee for the chance to vote against the Obama-Waxman-Wrangle-Pelosi health surtax.
When the Washington Post starts reporting that President Obama's allies are beginning to "sour" on the health reform effort, things are really very bad indeed.
In other words, the political dynamics of President Obama's health care reform have gotten so bad that even the biased, elite-meeting-behind-closed-doors-access-to-Obama-Washington Post cannot put a happy spin on the process.
The Chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee in the House added insult to his Senate Democratic colleague by announcing -- a la Chairman Waxman -- that whatever deals that were made by hospitals, the AARP or PhRMA did not apply to his Committee.
This will, of course, not encourage deal making with the Democrats by industry.
But the fact that the $500 billion in Medicare cuts have reached the ears of the senior citizens and only one third of them support President Obama's health care reform is also politically hobbling to the effort. These poll numbers among seniors is likely putting internal pressure on the AARP, whose members must be wondering why AARP has not been aggressive in rolling back the Medicare cuts or attacking those who are proposing them. The lack of senior support for President Obama's health care plan is likely making AARP touchy when it comes to its deal making. As other senior groups that compete with AARP start to spool up their mailing lists, and their letters begin to hit over the next six weeks, life at the AARP will get harder.
The Washington Post chronicles intra-industry fighting among the hospitals, and quotes one executive who said:
"Everyone can say we need to reform the system," said one state hospital official, who requested anonymity to discuss the internal rift. "But when you start to look at the details of how you do that, that's when you get the rats scurrying off the ship. That's what's happening now."
Chairman Waxman is especially keen on poking PhRMA in the eye with a sharp stick, by forcing the drug companies to finance the closing of the doughnut hole through price controls. The Washington Post reports that there are a number of other "explosive" issues that have not yet been addressed with regard to prescription drugs in health care reform, including drug re-importation, which by all rationale vote counts will pass the U.S. Senate.
If PhRMA decides to start writing big checks to pound Members of Congress, those on the receiving end can thank Chairman Waxman.
And the lack of support among seniors for President Obama's health reform plan is just beginning to leak into the media, which in and of itself is a shocker, since the media are the main propaganda organ of the White House. The media's normal we-will-never-criticize-or-report-anything-that-could-in-anyway-hurt-our-hero-God-like-head-bow-down-to-love-hunk posture is beginning to slip: the Washington Post quoted PhRMA chief W. J. "Billy" Tauzin saying "seniors were less than enchanted with the notion of health-care reform." (Wow, huh?)
But wait, there is more.
Yesterday in the Senate HELP Committee Senator Barbara Mikulski offered an amendment (click here for text of amendment in .pdf) that passed 12-11 to make Planned Parenthood and taxpayer funded abortions part of the health reform package. Senator Enzi issued a statement that explained the amendment would "would require health insurance companies to contract with organizations like Planned Parenthood" and other organizations that perform abortions, paid for with taxpayer dollars.
To give you a sense of the low-ignition point of this issue, Perkins, the head of Family Research Council said:
"It's ironic that Senator Mikulski (D-MD) and the committee Democrats would consider taxpayer-funded abortions to be a health care benefit since the baby gets no health care benefit from abortion. President Obama and the Democrat leadership claim they want to 'reduce' abortion, but you don't reduce abortion by funding it."
"When it comes to taxpayer funding of abortion, the Senate HELP Committee is out of step with the American people who according to polls consistently oppose the practice by more than a 2 to 1 margin."
The Democrats have succeeded this week in exploding the politcal equivalent of the AARP, abortion, hospital, PhRMA and 51% tax claymore mines on their own position (claymores are the mines that have in huge block letters the phrase FRONT TOWARD ENEMY).
And just remember, the foregoing is what the Washington Post describes as "sour." But even now, the Washington Post editorial board is "discouraged" by this weeks health care developments, and in an editorial titled "How Not to Fix Health Care" takes the Democrats to task for three key additional missteps (other than those mentioned in this post.)