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Mona Charen
Mona Charen
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Maximum Achievable Damage

Comment

Does anyone remember the TV show "Supermarket Sweep"? Contestants would compete with one another by careening through a supermarket and grabbing as many products as they could toss into a basket. The winner was the shopper whose cart carried the biggest price tag when the bell sounded.

It's a fitting image for the way Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have handled the most important domestic issue of the decade. They've raced down the health policy aisles, sweeping items off the shelves and into their legislative carts, heedless of nutritional value, taste, or cost. As items dropped out on the hairpin turns, others were shoved into the spaces. Harry Reid inserted the Medicare "buy-in" at the 11th hour and just as quickly withdrew it under pressure. No organizing principle has governed the contents of their baskets (Pelosi added and jettisoned abortion coverage), just an urgent imperative to pass something. And now, as the clock winds down, they are declaring, as a journalistic cheerleader at the Washington Post put it, "a legislative feat of epic proportions."

Actually, it was the sloppiest and most slapdash legislative process ever to accompany a major bill. The 383-page manager's amendment, making changes to the Senate bill, was released on the morning of the cloture vote. Secrecy marked Reid's handling of the bill throughout. Not only Republicans, but Democrats, too, were kept from studying the legislation. Payoffs to wavering Sens. Lieberman, Landrieu, and Nelson, on the other hand, were blatant.

The Democratic leaders of the House and Senate, in concert with the White House, have bullied, bribed, and rushed their members to vote on this legislation so that the deed could be done before constituents — who oppose it forcefully — could confront their representatives face-to-face over the Christmas break.

The Democrats have endured bruising internecine conflicts and risked the loss of between 20 and 40 seats in 2010 (Pelosi's estimate) for this. And what have they achieved? Their goal — a single-payer system or a glide path to one — remains as distant as ever. Instead, they have produced (or will, after the conference committee) an enormous new $2.5 trillion octopus of federal regulation that will increase premiums, contribute to medical cost inflation, reduce quality and choice of care, and deeply politicize an aspect of life that most Americans regard as sacrosanct.

Additionally, and most alarmingly, it will aggravate the already crushing debt we are accumulating.

President Obama has betrayed every ringing promise he made about this reform. People will not be able to keep their health plans if they are happy with them. The federal government will determine which plans pass muster. As for not adding one dime to the federal deficit? Risible. The "savings" in the Senate bill consist of cuts to Medicare, not increased competition or more efficient delivery of services. And while CBO has scored the bill as reducing the deficit, CBO must abide by the assumptions Congress presents. It cannot say what we know from history to be the truth: Congress will not make cuts in Medicare. Besides, every entitlement ever enacted has wound up costing orders of magnitude more than the estimates at passage. That's why the Medicare and Social Security unfunded liability is currently $107 trillion, according to a 2009 trustees' report. The Reid bill will add at least 15 million new beneficiaries to Medicaid, accelerating that program's budget-busting momentum.

The president also promised that no one earning less than $250,000 would pay higher taxes. But under both the Senate and House bills, people who do not purchase health insurance will be slapped with an excise tax (2.5 percent of adjusted gross income under Pelosicare, and $750 or 2 percent of income, whichever is larger, under Reidcare).

The Democrats have not achieved their goal of completely lassoing one-sixth of the economy, but their mammoth legislation (the House and Senate bills both top 2,000 pages) will apply heavy-handed regulation that will further gum up a system already choking on bureaucracy. Americans will be forced to buy health insurance. Insurance companies will be forbidden to price their services according to actuarial tables. And no aspect of medical care will be free of political interference. (One section of the Senate bill reinstates coverage for DXA scans because two senators insisted upon it. Another requires breastfeeding breaks in the workplace.)

The Democrats will create, among others, the following new bureaus: The Grant Program for Health Insurance Cooperatives, the Telehealth Advisory Committee, the Community Based Medical Home Pilot Program, the Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research, and the Qualified Health Benefits Plan Ombudsman. In short, Democrats have done the maximum amount of damage to our system that they could manage under the circumstances.

To find out more about Mona Charen and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS.COM



Comments

2 Comments | Post Comment
Dear Mona Charen, Excellent Article. Your readers might be interested in the following article.
Kay Hagan (you know, the new US Senator from Greensboro that's going along
with all the 'legislation' so she, too, can get that high dollar salary and
retirement), said and I QUOTE "I'd say that Harry Reid knows how to get 60
votes, and that was very important to our country in order to move forward
with thhat legislation." "Bribing" the blood-sucking ticks (has been done
too many times) is nothing to be proud of, Ms. Hagan! Corruption and greed
is what most politicians are all about. Ms. Hagan, politicians have
accomplished absolutely nothing in several decades! Politicians have
bankrupted America, sold Americans jobs to foreign countries, for their own
best interests, borrowed trillions, without Taxpayers consent, and you have
the audacity to state this 'healthcare disaster is very important to our
country!' Taxpayers would like to know "when have you read the fine print
in anything that benefited Americans?" "Did you bother to save the textile and
manufacturing companies?" "Do you know that until textile and manufacturing
jobs are returned to America that America is doomed, and there's absolutely
no need for infrastructures, bigger government, as there will be no one to
pay Taxes, including your high-dollar salary, retirements, and freebies?"
You see, Ms. Hagan, you're just like the rest of the 'blood-sucking ticks'
and it's obvious you'll go along with any 'DEAL MAKING PROGRAMS' the
corrupt and greedy politicians like Reid, Pelosi, Rangel, Frank, Dodd, just to name
a few, have lingered over for several decades, for job security, and to
hell with the honest, hard-working American!
Ms. Hagan, bribery is a crime and you and your politician buddies might
think you're above the law, but your time is coming and, hopefully, real
soon as America can't afford anymore!
For the people who don't know what's happening to America and that one
trillion has 12 Zeros, and "a zillion is undetermined, because it is huge",
and this 'healthcare reform' that's gone on for years (job security for
politicians, but bankruptcy for Taxpayers) should concern everyone!
Politicians got raises and bonuses! Taxpayers received no raise, insurance
premiums were raised! Politicians get the best of healthcare, drugs, and
insurance. Taxpayers get the leftovers; including higher insurance premiums
and even higher co-pays for their GENERIC drugs. sddelong
=================================================================
TO ALL CONCERNED TAXPAYERS: Please watch the video below (send along to
everyone). Newt Gingrich is 'on target' with what he's saying.
WHAT TAXPAYERS ARE SAYING 'IT'S TIME TO TAKE AMERICA BACK, GET RID OF ALL
POLITICIANS BY PUTTING THEM ON A SLOW BOAT TO GITMO, TAKE ALL THEIR ASSETS
TO PAY OFF THE TRILLIONS THEY'VE BORROWED WITHOUT TAXPAYERS CONSENT, AND WE
MUST 'NOT' FORGET TO SEND ALONG THE LOCAL, STATE, FEDERAL PRISONERS, SOCIAL
AND WELFARE RECIPIENTS!
IT'S TIME TO TIGHTEN THE BELTS AND PULL UP THE BOOT STRAPS AND GO 'KICK
BUTT' - REMOVE ALL 'BLOOD-SUCKING TICKS' FROM THEIR OFFICES, TAKE KEYS,
CARS, AND ANYTHING THEY POSSESS, AS THESE GREEDY AND CORRUPT SLOBS HAVE
DESTROYED AMERICA AND SOLD TAXPAYERS OUT FOR THE HIGHEST DOLLAR FOR THEIR
RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS, WHICH, INCIDENTALLY, TAXPAYERS NEED TO MAKE SURE WHERE
ALL THEIR FOREIGN BANK ACCOUNTS ARE, SO THIS MONEY CAN BE USED TO PAY OFF
THE TRILLIONS, WHICH IS GOING TO BE NEEDED TO BUILD AMERICA BACK, NOT THE
FOREIGN COUNTRIES! AFTER 9/11 - DID FOREIGNERS BUILD AMERICA BACK? I DON'T
THINK SO!
POLITICIANS HAVE COMMITTED 'TREASON' ON THE AMERICA TAXPAYERS - THEY'VE
SOLD OUT AMERICA AND THIS, TO HONEST-HARD-WORKING TAXPAYERS, THEY MUST PAY BE
HELD ACCOUNTABLE!
BY THE WAY, NO MORE LOBBYISTS, DRUG AND INSURANCE COMPANIES, ACLU,
ATTORNEYS, GIVING MONEY TO ANY POLITICIAN, AS TAXPAYERS ARE FED UP WITH
PAYING FOR ALL THE POLITICIANS 'FREEBIES' AND 'HOLLYWOOOD PARTIES',
'EXTRAVAGANT AND PLUSH LIFESTYLES', THAT'S COST TAXPAYERS THEIR JOBS AND
THEIR SECURITY! DOES THIS SEEM 'FAIR AND JUST TO ANYONE?' I DON'T KNOW
ABOUT YOU, BUT I WANT MY MONEY BACK, SINCE WE'VE BEEN OVERCHARGED FOR INSURANCE
AND DRUGS JUST TO PAY FOR THE POLITICIANS AND THEIR LIFESTYLES!
Newt Gingrich gets paid to tell a story - the one above, by me is 'FREE'!
Shirley deLong, Artist, Activist, Writer
======================================================================================== You have got to listen to this short speech by Newt Gingrich!! Notice that no mention of political parties is made. Like him or not he tells it like it is. http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=US&v=qtjfMjjce2Y
Comment: #1
Posted by: Shirley deLong
Sat Dec 26, 2009 2:57 PM
Very well said. Thank you! You are the sole conservative voice that my local rag, Pocono Record (Stroudsburg, PA), allows on its editorial page.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Linda Foh
Sun Dec 27, 2009 2:00 PM
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