by J. F. Kelly, Jr. | Coronado
President Barack Obama says that the same wave of voter anger that swept him into office, swept Massachusetts State Senator Scott Brown into the U. S. Senate. He’s partly right, of course. Voters were angry with Republicans and swept them out of Congress in 2006. Obama capitalized on that voter anger and successfully campaigned on a promise of change.
We got change alright, but not for the better. Federal debt grew by $3.3 trillion in just one year. The president, nevertheless, pushed a massive overhaul of medical care that tied up Congress for nearly a year. He allowed the war on terrorism to degenerate into a police action and seemed to worry more about the rights of terrorists than the safety of Americans. He seemed to focus more on opposing everything the Bush Administration did or stood for than dealing with America’s problems that worsened significantly in his first year in office. He repeatedly blamed the last administration for problems he was elected to deal with. He allowed liberal ideologues in Congress to attempt to ram his liberal agenda through at any cost. He populated his administration with unelected czars and party hacks, almost none of whom had business or executive experience or, indeed, experience at running anything other than political careers.
So if Mr. Obama believes that the wave that swept him into office is the same wave that swept a virtually unknown state senator into a U.S. Senate seat held for half a century by the patron saint of the Democratic Party, then he is in a serious state of denial. What got Mr. Brown elected over his once heavily-favored, well-financed and Obama-endorsed opponent, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, was anger over what has happened just in the past year.
Surely, Mr. Obama and his advisors are reading the polls. Americans are frightened and angry over what this administration has so far done and has failed to do, such as a stimulus package that mainly benefited public employees but did little to create jobs in the private sector, a virtual government takeover of large segments of the economy and a bungled prosecution of the war on terrorism that treats it as a crime wave rather than a war. These are some of the issues that swept Mr. Brown into a Senate seat that was supposed to be owned by the Democrats.
President Obama personally campaigned for Ms. Coakley, as he did for the losing Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Virginia and New Jersey recently. He was repudiated by the voters on each occasion in what were thought once to be safely blue states. He needs to get the message, as Bill Clinton did early in his presidency, that most Americans want to be governed by moderate politicians who know how to get things done and who can achieve consensus, not by tax-and spend politicians who have fed at the public trough for most of their adult life, who never had to meet a payroll, hold a real job or actually live in the real world.
The voters may have been angriest of all over the debt that has been piled on future generations. It’s one thing to spend our children’s inheritance. It’s quite another thing to bequeath massive debt to them that they will struggle to repay, indeed struggle just to pay the interest, at the expense of needed services. Politicians have for too long lived for the present and the next election without regard to the future. Perhaps they are learning now that the public is paying attention and that reckless public spending has consequences for them as well as for the future.
The current ruling clique should ponder the message from Massachusetts. They have lost their filibuster-proof Senate majority. They have labored mightily for almost a year, to the neglect of other pressing issues, to produce a monstrosity of a health care overhaul that two-thirds of the people do not want. The Democratic leaders in Congress have done this in reckless disregard of Republican input and public opinion.
Here’s a novel suggestion. While they are still in office, members of Congress should poll their constituents and ask them what health care reforms they want most. They didn’t ask for a massive, 2078-page overhaul of one-fifth of the economy. What ever gave members of Congress the idea that they were smart enough to do that, anyway? Voters didn’t ask Congress to fix what was working, only what was broken. And when I say poll their constituents, I don’t mean one of those requests for funds disguised as a questionnaire, full of that patronizing language about how valued your opinion is. You know full well it’s your money they really value.
When Congress gets the responses, it should pick the three most popular and figure out a way pay for them. Limit the subsequent legislation to 100 pages. Here are my top three recommended reforms: (1) Initiate tort reform to reduce the cost of malpractice insurance which is driving up the cost of healthcare. (2) Permit health care insurers to do business in any state, increasing competition, lowering prices and facilitating government regulation as interstate commerce. (3). Make it illegal for insurance companies to drop patients except for non-payment of premiums or to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions so long as the patient has maintained continuous coverage to that point.
It would be nice to do more, but we can’t afford it right now. We have to borrow money from China to pay our bills as it is and just wait until you see the bills for Haiti relief and reconstruction. CRO
copyright 2010 J.F. Kelly, Jr
J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California.