Polls will tell whether voters accept reform

Freedom New Mexico

Liberty died a little on Sunday. The government gained a little more control over our most personal

decisions, about our health, about our very lives, on the promise that some taxpayers will subsidize health insurance — which every American will be required to buy, an unprecedented mandate — for other Americans.

What is law will be the Senate version of health care reform, which included single-state inducements dubbed the Cornhusker Kickback, Gator Aid for Florida, the Louisiana Purchase and various other sweeteners that were added to garner enough votes for Senate passage in December.

The House also passed a “reconciliation” bill that eliminates some of the Senate bill’s provisions, and the promise — perhaps the expectation — was that the Senate will agree to the House “fixes.” But Senate Republicans vowed to offer amendments and points of order to delay Senate approval as long as possible. So it’s not quite finished.

What emerges from this polarizing process, filled with arcane legislative tricks and dodges, is that the Obama administration and just enough House Democrats don’t care that they could not achieve anything close to consensus for a new law that will place numerous new rules and mandates (with or without reconciliation) on Americans who work in a key sector amounting to one-sixth of the economy — probably the most far-reaching change since Medicare in 1965 and perhaps since the beginning of Social Security in 1937.

They were so hungry to have this “reform” they considered it a triumph that they were able to get a wafer-thin majority of their own party to go along.

Obama publicly acknowledged this would be a politically risky vote for many Democrats. He and the Democratic congressional leadership hope against hope that people will grow accustomed to the new law, and the intensity of the opposition will fade. And since not even the new taxes the law creates kick in before November, voters will be able to look around and say, “Nothing much has changed yet; the sky didn’t fall; maybe it’s not such a disastrous law after all.”

It is quite possible, however, that opposition to, and second thoughts about, this law will intensify between now and November. Wrangling in the Senate could keep it front-and-center for some time.

There are sure to be constitutional challenges. It is difficult to read through Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, which lays out certain limited enumerated powers given to the central government and find words there authorizing a way to force every American to make a purchase from a private company as the price of being alive.

It would be folly to predict how the courts will eventually rule, but it is a good bet the issues will be litigated actively for months, which will keep the matter in the forefront of peoples’ attention. And, of course, Republicans, who already believe they will make significant gains in November’s midterm elections, will press the point relentlessly.

What is most significant about Sunday is that a majority of the two legislative bodies have moved the United States significantly closer to the European welfare-state model, a development many progressives openly acknowledge as a long-term political goal.

We believe the more Americans consider this development, the more convinced growing majorities will be that the United States does not need to copy Europe to improve health care. We will see how that affects future sessions of Congress.