Examiner Editorial: President’s costly victory on health care 

President Barack Obama succeeded where previous presidents had failed when the House finally succumbed to his dream of solving what he describes as a health care crisis by putting federal bureaucrats between doctors and their patients. But as he sets his agenda for the rest of 2010, Obama must not confuse support from weak-kneed Democrats on Capitol Hill with a mandate for more grandiose left-wing legislation.

There is no greater public appetite today for carbon regulation, more stimulus legislation or an amnesty-based immigration bill than there was before Obama’s highly partisan, brute-force tactics won the day for an exceptionally unpopular health care plan.

The health care battle wasn’t Obama’s Waterloo, but it may yet be his Bunker Hill. By the time American patriots there ran out of ammo and succumbed to the Redcoats in 1775, they had exacted a terrible toll, leading British Gen. Sir Henry Clinton to remark that “it was a dear-bought victory, another such would have ruined us.” Likewise, Obama won on health care, but he lost public opinion. Most Americans believe his signature legislation will either do nothing to help them or will actually worsen their health coverage and drive up costs. The health care debate united more Americans in bipartisan opposition to Obama’s government takeover.

To make matters worse, the Democrats’ budget tricks required delaying commencement of Obamacare’s claimed benefits. So, even if Obamacare might ultimately have some virtues, few Americans will realize any benefit from it until at least 2014. Sunday’s vote will cost Democrats House seats in November, and may already have cost them a Senate seat in Indiana, where the Democratic representative favored for the party’s Senate nomination voted for Obamacare.

But Democrats can still make November’s elections significantly worse. Pressing on with the same obsessively partisan agenda Obama launched last year will do the trick. He can pursue a global warming policy that makes energy prices “necessarily skyrocket.” He can push for another round of failing economic stimulus legislation, and an immigration policy to legalize an estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal immigrants here even as millions of Americans are out of work.

There was a time when Obama’s initial popularity covered a multitude of sins. If Obama still thinks he has that magic, then he’s in for a big surprise in November.


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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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