You have to read all the way to page A-25 in today’s New York Times to learn about it, but the Senate took its first floor vote on Obamacare yesterday and the White House lost. Big. The NYT reports: “Democrats lost a big test vote on health care legislation on Wednesday as the Senate blocked action on a bill to increase Medicare payments to doctors at a cost of $247 billion over 10 years. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, needed 60 votes to proceed. He won only 47. And he could not blame Republicans. A dozen Democrats and one independent crossed party lines and voted with Republicans on the 53 to 47 roll call.”
As we reported on Monday and Tuesday, yesterday’s “doc fix” vote was part of a White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel strategy to smooth passage of President Barack Obama’s $1 trillion-plus health care overhaul by transferring a quarter of its cost into a separate, and completely unpaid for, bill. This transparently dishonest shell game was too much for honest Democratic Senators like Evan Bayh (D-IN), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). Wyden told the NYT: “On the eve of a historic debate on health care, it’s essential to show a commitment to real reform,” which includes fiscal responsibility.
Yesterday’s vote marks a significant failure of the Left’s special interest approach to passing Obamacare. [# More #] From the beginning, the White House thought that if it bought off all of the business interests involved (the American Medical Association, the drug industry, health insurers, hospitals, etc.) opposition to the plan would wither. In one sense, the plan worked. USA Today reports PhRMA, Pfizer, America’s Health Insurance Plans, and the Federation of American Hospitals have all ponied up millions of dollars for lobbying and television ads in support of Obamacare.
But all these special interest television ads failed to rid Americans of their common sense objections to Obamacare’s government takeover of health care. Gallup reports today that Americans now more than ever believe the costs their family pays for health care will get worse if Obamacare passes. And more Americans now believe that Obamacare will lower the quality of care they receive, reduce their health care coverage, and complicate the insurance company requirements they have to meet to get certain treatments covered.
Instead of the massive overhaul being pursued by the White House, a solid majority of Americans tell Gallup they want to see Congress move in the opposite direction. By 58% to 38%, Americans would generally prefer to see Congress deal with health care reform “on a gradual basis over several years” rather than “try to pass a comprehensive health care reform plan this year.” Bipartisan, fiscally responsible, reform such as equalizing the tax treatment of health insurance purchases, freeing customers to purchase health insurance across state lines, and allowing states more flexibility on Medicaid spending are readily doable. And that is what the people want.