Faced with open rebellion in its own ranks, the Obama administration is considering enacting Obamacare through an arcane backroom procedure that would require a simple majority vote, bypassing a Senate filibuster threat and any necessity for support from minority Republicans.
Essentially, President Obama could pass his health care reform bill on a straight party line vote. While the national interest is far better served by the outright defeat of the president’s plan and that’s where Republican efforts should be directed, such a move by the administration would guarantee a Republican House no later than 2012. Consider that the program to be enacted would include all taxes to pay for the plan, big cuts in Medicare, the government-run health insurance plan (the “public option”), employer mandates and fines and almost certainly hundreds of billions of dollars added to the national debt.
There’s a reason the administration would try and pass this program with a bare partisan majority: it is massively unpopular.
Why should the Republican Party welcome this strategy?
First, it would further split the Democratic Party with its dominant liberal wing at war with the moderates. The Democratic National Committee and MoveOn.org have already run ads against moderate Democrats. Partisan warfare against the so-called Blue Dogs would reach a fever pitch as moderates would be forced to vote on such an unpopular measure.
If passed, Democrats would have to explain a vote for legislation that Americans oppose. The key for Republicans is strong candidates to force Democrats to explain the vote and promote a Republican patient-centered, private sector approach.
Second, noted political analyst Charlie Cook advises no fewer than 48 congressional districts represented by Democrats were won by Sen. John McCain in 2008, and Mr. McCain won 60 percent in 11 of those districts. Mr. Obama will not be of much help to these Democratic incumbents as his support has always been modest here.
Third, according to projections, 14 congressional districts will migrate from mostly blue states won by Sen. John Kerry and Mr. Obama to so-called red states won by President Bush and Mr. McCain. These new districts will create additional opportunities for the Republicans in 2012, the first elections to be held after the next redistricting round.
Even if the plan is rammed through this year, it can still be reversed. Because of budget “smoke and mirrors,” benefits do not begin until two years after the tax increases are imposed. This is on top of Mr. Obama’s plan to cancel the Bush tax cuts after 2010, guaranteeing the biggest tax increase in American history.
Enhanced Republican majorities and surviving Blue Dogs would have an excellent chance of repealing this unpopular program, much as a heavily Democratic Congress repealed an unpopular catastrophic health insurance plan in 1989.
Obamacare is massively unpopular and is likely to remain so. If passed on a partisan basis through a backroom deal, it will become an even bigger issue. So, Mr. President, go ahead: Make my day.