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Posted by on Mar 22, 2010 in Politics | 36 comments

The “Dirty Little Secret” of Health Care Reform

And now the deed is done, as Macbeth said upon emerging from the chamber with blood covering his hands. The Democrats’ majority in Congress has finished their series of back room deals and procedural maneuvers and gotten some version of their health care “reform” package voted past the bipartisan opposition to it and on its way to the President’s desk. And now that it no longer matters, somebody really should come along and let you in on the Dirty Little Secret underlying the battle so recently concluded. This is exactly how the Republicans wanted it to end. And at least for some of the Democrats in Congress, they are waking up to a world where one is reminded to be careful what one wishes for.

For all the theater and ginned up drama in the endless media cycle this weekend there was never any doubt how this was going to end from the moment the Sunday vote was announced. Say what you will about Nancy Pelosi, but when it comes to the political arena, she didn’t fall off the turnip truck last night. The question wasn’t whether there would be enough votes to pass the bill, but rather which Democrats would have to walk the plank for it and who would be the last ones standing out over the shark infested waters with the Speaker’s saber poking them in the spine. And now that it’s done, a six month, eleven day clock has begun running down and the Republicans are setting up a Chinese water torture plan which the media will have no choice but to assist. Drip, drip, drip.

Make no mistake… there are some benefits which will come to at least some Americans from this legislation, but they’re still a long ways off. And in the meantime, people will open up their newspapers, turn on their televisions, click on their web browsers, and begin to see one story after another in the months to come.

As the oh-so-conservative MSNBC said this morning, the final tally will show people that this package represents the largest cumulative tax increase in the history of the United States. All of the new or increased taxes and fees will be added up. And when the “doc fix” comes through later this year (and rest assured… it will) the deficit numbers will once again shoot up rather than down.

Drip, drip, drip.

10,000 IRS Agents are going to be assigned to make sure your medical insurance is up to snuff or you will be hounded by the government?

Drip, drip, drip.

Every doctor who decides to close up shop after looking over the new economic landscape under this legislation (and polling shows that there are more than a few) will be rolled out for endless interviews on all the talk shows. Every pharmacy that joins in with Walgreens and says they can’t take any more Medicaid customers to fill prescriptions will get their own headline.

Drip, drip, drip.

This President – the one who was going to be the answer to all the dreams of the pro-choice movement – signed an Executive Order banning the use of federal funds for almost all abortions which would have given George W. Bush pause?

Drip, drip, drip.

Local news will continue to report how costs will increasingly be shunted from Washington down onto the already cratering budgets of the various states. (Such as New York, where the government is already talking of delaying sending out income tax refund checks because they are broke.) And now they have to cover more medical costs?

Drip, drip, drip.

All of this takes place during the run-up to what promises to be the most heated midterm election cycle we’ve seen in more than a decade. And the truly amazing thing for you fans of irony (remembering that we’re discussing the politics, not the policy, here) is that it could have just as easily gone the exact opposite way. Had the bill failed, there would have been no endless discussions coming over the details. While a majority of Americans seem to agree that they don’t like this bill, an even larger margin agree that there are problems with the health care system and something should be done about it. If the Republicans had stopped this effort, the Democrats would have had a free run from now until November to keep saying, “The Republicans took away your only chance for health care reform.” They wouldn’t have had to worry about how to pay for it, the effects on the budget, costs to employers, premiums or availability. They could have just painted the GOP as the bad guys and very likely held their current majority in Congress if not expanded it, rather than facing the electoral mudslide which seems to be heading their way.

Politics is funny, eh? Well, not “funny ha-ha” in this case, but you get the idea.

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