Democrats have long complained about the “wedge issues” that Republicans allegedly exploit to “divide” the country. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that these so-called “wedges” are the issues where majorities or large pluralities of Americans are at odds with “enlightened opinion” as defined by liberals and the media: Abortion, affirmative action and immigration, just to name a few. It’s now increasingly clear that Republicans have found an effective new “wedge” for the upcoming 2010 elections: Health care. Ironically, the Democrats are the ones who created it for them.
Here’s what happened. Rolling into Washington last January, liberals felt invincible. From the newly-elected President on down, Democrats believed that the election results signaled a sea-change in the American electorate – a new enthusiasm for activist, big government – rather than simple weariness with war and perceived GOP incompetence, coupled with the desire to “make history” by electing Obama. (In fairness, this conceit was amplified by the pro-Obama enthusiasm of left-of-center commentators and newspapers.)
Misreading the national mood (much as Newt Gingrich and congressional Republicans did in 1995), President Obama and congressional Democrats immediately embarked on an unprecedented spending spree. Much of it was for passage of a $787 billion “stimulus” that rewarded core Democrat constituencies like labor unions and government employees, while doing little for regular Americans even as unemployment shot into double digits. As a result of the unprecedented levels of spending, government outlays and the relative deficit have soared to post-World War II highs.
Although Americans have loudly voiced their worries about rising unemployment, skyrocketing deficits and rapidly-expanding government, President Obama and congressional Democrats are ignoring their concerns. Instead, they’re jamming through a highly unpopular, budget-buster health care bill that guarantees nothing but higher taxes, more government spending and inferior medical care.