"We are on the precipice of an achievement that's eluded congresses and presidents for generations."
-- President Barack Obama, Dec. 15, on health care legislation.
Precipice, 1. a headlong fall or descent, esp. to a great depth.
-- Oxford English Dictionary
WASHINGTON -- Trying to guarantee Americans the thrill of the precipice, the president dashed to Massachusetts on Sunday, thereby conceding that he had already lost Tuesday's Senate election, which had become a referendum on his signature program. By promising to cast the decisive 41st vote against the president's health care legislation, the Republican candidate forced all congressional Democrats to contemplate this: Not even frenzied national mobilization of Democratic manpower and millions of dollars could rescue one of the safest Democratic seats in the national legislature from national dismay about the incontinent government expansion, of which that legislation is symptomatic.
Because the legislation is frightening and unpopular, Democrats have had to resort to serial bribery to advance it. Massachusetts voted immediately after the corruption of exempting, until 2018, union members from the tax on high-value health insurance plans. This tax was supposedly the crucial component of what supposedly was reform's primary goal -- reducing costs.
The late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., thought Bill Clinton's presidency was crippled by the 1993 decision to pursue health care reform rather than welfare reform. So slight was public enthusiasm for the former, Clinton's program never even came to a vote in either the House or Senate, both controlled by Democrats. There was such fervor for welfare reform that in 1996, after two Clinton vetoes, he finally signed the decade's most important legislation.