Someone should remind President Obama that Jimmy Carter, who was one of America’s most decent presidents, was booted out after just one term. Obama doesn’t seem to realize the potential price for the health care “reform” he has just heralded as “meeting all of my criteria.” I have not read the more than 2,000 pages of the Senate bill, but from what people I trust have to say, the bill stinks.
It could well prove to be Obama’s Waterloo – as Republican Senator Jim DeMint said back in July when the “reform” effort was launched in Congress. The compromise being held up for admiration pleases nobody but the president, and it tees off a lot of people.
For me personally, it will mean losing benefits that I enjoy under Medicare Advantage so that poor families can get help paying for health insurance. That will hurt, of course. But I was prepared to make the sacrifice for a good cause. Unfortunately, it seems I will have to make the sacrifice for a lousy cause.
What the bill does is take away my subsidy and give it to someone else – and at the same time make the health insurance companies even more profitable. And it will not put the brakes on premiums. So it will not just siphon money away from us old codgers, it will also dip into the pockets of young and middle-aged voters. To add insult to injury, it will make everyone buy health insurance or pay a fine.
The benefits, as the president sees it, outweigh these concerns. He claims the bill will end abuses traditionally practiced by the health insurers – force the companies to accept customers with “preexisting conditions” for one thing. But according to a reliable source – former Vermont governor Howard Dean – the bill lets the companies charge these customers so much that most of them won’t be able to afford coverage.
And Wendell Potter, the former public relations vice president for Cigna, said on TV the other night that the insurers will have no trouble getting around provisions that are supposed to rein in their rapacious behavior.
Of course, I am not going to vote for Republicans in 2010 just because of this disillusioning double-cross. I’ll still fill in the bubble next to that big D, as I always do. But not all old folks are as forgiving as I am. A lot of voters over 65 will take out their frustration at the polls. Seniors don’t like Obama much anyway; 65 percent of them backed McCain last November. Now, the Republicans will likely get a much bigger share of that voting bloc.
That’s bad news for the Democratic Party. Midterm elections, like the ones coming up next year, traditionally attract older and whiter voters than elections in presidential years. And now that the Democrats have made the codgers angry, they will have even more of an incentive to vote.
Meanwhile, “progressive” voters (formerly known as liberals) are in shock because of the way the president and his allies let a few compromised Democrats sabotage the bill to repay insurers for campaign contributions. The “progressives” were expecting real reform – if not a single-payer system, at least a government-run health insurance plan to give the greedy insurers some competition. A lot of progressive voters , including most of those enthusiastic youngsters and African Americans who helped sweep Obama to victory last year, will probably be discouraged and stay home next election day.
That’s Tuesday, November 2, 2010, when at least 36 of the 100 seats in the Senate – and all House seats – are coming up for election. Analysts are predicting this will be “the year of the angry white senior.” The Democrats could take such a thumping that their majority in Congress – certainly their narrow edge in the Senate – would vanish. And you can be sure the Republicans will not be any more supportive of the president’s policies than they have been so far. Look for them to stymie Obama’s every move, leaving him powerless to get anything done.
With that kind of record, how do you think the president would fare in 2012? Perhaps Jimmy Carter could use some help writing his next book?