When, earlier this year, the new Obama administration set health care reform into motion, word was that they carefully studied the tactical failures of Hillarycare, with resolution to avoid the same mistakes.
Ironically, but not surprisingly, they have repeated them all.
That's not to say that the door has shut on Obamacare. Something still may pass. But the victory will be pyrrhic. The bills stink. Polling uniformly shows the public, for good reason, doesn't want them. And Democrats will pay a political price if they force their irresponsible concoction on the nation.
What was supposedly the clever insight of the Obama team was to let Congress take ownership of health care reform. Rather than piecing it together behind closed doors in the White House, as did Hillary Clinton, let the folks who will have to pass it put their necks on the line.
But the elementary point overlooked was that it doesn't matter behind whose closed doors politicians hijack one-sixth of the American economy. I'm not going to do any better designing a space shuttle whether I do it in my kitchen or in my den. It's not my job and I don't know how to do it.
Yet, with a special brand of hubris, seasoned with a perverse sense of what making history means, a handful of Democrat power brokers have spent a good part of this year designing how hundreds of millions of Americans will, one by one, spend a few trillion dollars annually on health care. And they've done this with practically no genuine public debate and discussion.
So how could the product not be garbage?
Even as I write, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tries to put together 60 votes for passage of his bill, most senators have no idea what's in it.
Times are so strange that I find myself actually agreeing with former Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean, who has urged that the Senate bill be killed. Dean writes in the Washington Post " ... as it stands, this bill would do more harm than good to the future of America."
He correctly identifies one key reason why the legislation is a dismal failure. It does nothing to increase competition in insurance markets.
But, like his liberal friends, Dean's strange idea of competition is creating a government plan to compete with private insurance companies. This makes as much sense as taxpayers creating a new government car company to make GM more efficient.
More competition among health insurers is critical. It's competition that drives down prices and creates new efficiencies.
But the way to do this is by deregulating this highly regulated market. Break down state regulatory fiefdoms that prohibit residents from buying from out-of-state companies.
And get government out of the business of defining what insurance is. It only causes insurance to reflect what insurance lobbyists want rather than consumers.
The health care reform bills we have now do exactly the opposite. All existing regulations are left in place, and vast, sweeping new ones are layered on top of them.
Now, in a wave of particular brilliance, our legislators have created a mandate to force every consumer to buy the government-defined products from these barely competitive insurance companies. The inevitable result will be to hurt consumers even more and subsidize the insurance companies.
The stock market tells the story. Since the health care reform process began with the White House summit on March 5, the overall stock market has risen an impressive 54 percent. However, stocks of major health insurers have soared more: CIGNA, up 157 percent. UnitedHealth Group, up 88 percent. Wellpoint, up 84 percent. Aetna, up 65 percent.
It's time to stop this charade and begin a new, open process aimed to reforming health care that will actually serve American consumers.