After 8 years of Republican failures in reigning in government and excesses by the executive branch, many thought the Democrats could not be worse.
Well, they were wrong.
A failed stimulus. The budget deficit blown up beyond anyone’s imagination.
And now, a level of incompetence on health care reform that I would not thought possible.
Harry Reid’s lauded ‘compromise’ last week appears to have blown up over the weekend. Sen. Ben Nelson has said he will uphold the Republican filibuster unless the abortion amendment is reinserted. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida said that the Medicare cuts and expansion are a nonstarter, and he cannot vote for them. Democrats are having a food fight over importation of drugs from overseas, in which a band of Democrats have said they will oppose the bill. Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, the lone hope for bipartisanship, said she will not support the Medicare buy-in for those under 65 years of age. And swing vote Joe Lieberman finally stated clearly that he opposes the compromise, in any form.
And on top of everything else, everyone other than Harry Reid himself strongly believes that this ‘compromise’ bill will cost more, not less, allowing the moderate Democrat budget hawks to oppose the bill.
Let us step back a minute. Remember that Democrats have 60 votes in the Senate, and a vast majority in the House. They have (or at least, had) a vastly popular President, who was unwilling to spend any political capital in defending his own bill. This debacle is not of Republican making. It is, purely and simply, a litmus test on the competence of the Democrat Party.
After Reid gets the official cost measures from the CBO this week, he is assured of having to go back to the drawing board. And Reid has shown no ability to bring divergent views together; he simply is not talented enough to achieve that goal. Somehow, he and Pelosi both will have to get consensus on abortion, Medicare spending, drug importation, immigrant coverage, and overall costs of the program. And without broad based support on each of those issues, the bill will fail because of Democrat opposition votes.
The irony is unimaginable. The Democrats came to power in 2006 promising more competence than the admittedly lacking Republican majorities. And yet, somehow, they make me yearn for those incompetents over the ones we have today.
The health care debacle will echo for decades. For Democrats, this is the equivalent of the Reagan revolution, where Reagan’s decrease in taxes stimulated a 25 year economic boom, supporting conservatives claims that less government intrusion would benefit the capitalist marketplace. For Democrats, they have long heralded health care as the lost ark…the one piece of the liberal puzzle that would do more to solve the ills of our society than any other. The Democrats may yet pass something, but passing their all-encompassing health care initiative is becoming less and less likely. With a President and vast Congressional majorities on their way to an epic failure on health care, that liberal dream may yet die a slow and painful death.
UPDATE: Harry Reid appears to have caved to Joe Lieberman in a bid to get 60 votes. There will be no Medicare buy-in, no trigger for the public option, and the cost will likely be lower. But how will the House ever accept such a stringent bill? And abortion still looms large, and has not been solved.