The PJ Tatler

Buyer's Remorse Strikes Democrats

Democrats are becoming increasingly open in questioning whether their party was right to waste more than a year on ObamaCare:

“I think we would all have been better off — President Obama politically, Democrats in Congress politically, and the nation would have been better off — if we had dealt first with the financial system and the other related economic issues and then come back to healthcare,” said Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.), who is retiring at the end of this Congress.

Miller, who voted for the law, said the administration wasted time and political capital on healthcare reform, resulting in lingering economic problems that will continue to plague Obama’s reelection chances in 2012.

Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) also criticized his party’s handling of the issue, and said he repeatedly called on his leaders to figure out how they were going to pay for the bill, and then figure out what they could afford.

Cardoza, who like Miller will retire at the end of the Congress, said he thought the bill should have been done “in digestible pieces that the American public could understand and that we could implement.”

As the article notes, it was the very far left Barney Frank who kicked off the buyer’s remorse, when he called ObamaCare a “mistake.”

Frank explains that it’s difficult to enact reforms that threaten to disrupt the arrangements of those who already have health insurance and are happy with the care they get. “Obama made the same mistake Clinton made,” says Frank. “When you try to extend health care to people who don’t have it, people who have it and are on the whole satisfied with it get nervous.” (h/t Jim Geraghty.)

Obama, says Frank, overinterpreted his mandate from the 2008 election. “The problem with health care is this: Health care is enormously important to people. When you tell them that you’re going to extend health care to people who don’t now have it, they don’t see how you can do that without hurting them. So I think he underestimated, as did Clinton, the sensitivity of people to what they see as an effort to make them share the health care with poor people.”

Frank managed to get quite a bit wrong in all that. The problems with ObamaCare are not limited to the problem of extending access in ways that threaten existing health care plans. ObamaCare does that, but it’s also a budget-busting assault on the states. It’s a Constitution-busting assault on individual liberty. It fundamentally changes the nature of the relationship between citizen and state. And the Democrats had to engage in kickbacks and payoffs just to get the bill passed in a purely partisan vote. Nothing about the way the Democrats handled ObamaCare looked good at the time or looks good now. It all looks like what it was and is: A terrible partisan power-grab to seize control over a major part of the US economy and American life.

Now, if the Democrats would realize that they made an even more fundamental mistake when they nominated an ideologue with no executive experience, we would all be getting somewhere.