Scott Brown’s stunning upset in the Massachusetts special election may have done what the best policy arguments could not – defeat the Democrats' plans for a massive government takeover of the U.S. health care system.
Democrats will undoubtedly offer a variety of excuses for Brown’s win. The Democratic nominee, Attorney General Martha Coakley, was a poor candidate. The “political climate” was bad. The dog ate their ballots. But in reality, there can be no denying that this election was a clear cut rejection of the Democratic health care bills.
There were no blurred differences on this issue. Scott Brown made his opposition to the bill a centerpiece of his campaign. He promised to be the 41st vote to sustain a filibuster and kill the bill, even signing autographs as “Scott41.” Coakley, on the other hand, pledged to vote for the bill.
The issue was featured in ads, debates, and public discussions. In the end, according to polls, in the home of Ted Kennedy, more than half of voters opposed the version of health care reform being rushed through Congress. Voters knew what they were saying. And what they were saying was a resounding “No!”
What do Democrats do now? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that they will pass health care reform “one way or another.” Those “ways” are:
Hurry up and stall: New York Democratic congressman Anthony Wiener both named and defined this strategy. Democrats would slow-walk certification of Brown’s victory, preventing him from taking his seat in the Senate. Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin has hinted that he won’t certify election results for at least the 10 days that local officials have to report on absentee and overseas ballots and has noted that state election law gives him as long as 50 days beyond that. Meanwhile, Pelosi and Harry Reid will rush their negotiations to merge the House and Senate bills, allowing the appointed interim Massachusetts Senator Paul Kirk to vote on the bill before Brown takes his seat.
Michael D. Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, heading research into a variety of domestic policies with particular emphasis on health care reform, welfare policy, and Social Security. His most recent white paper, "Bad Medicine: A Guide to the Real Costs and Consequences of the New Health Care Law," provides a detailed examination of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and what it means to taxpayers, workers, physicians, and patients.