The ObamaCare road not taken 

Obama should be seeking a cosmetic victory, after which he should privately acknowledge defeat and run like hell from this issue as quickly as possible.

President Obama has no interest in any advice I could offer, but I believe his decision to plunge headlong into a do-or-die struggle over “reconciliation” and an admittedly flawed Senate health care bill is politically reckless. It’s one of those decisions that Sir Humphrey Appleby of Yes, Minister would call “courageous,” meaning it’s a terrible decision — a political career-ender.

Consider: If Obama wins, he gets a very unpopular bill whose higher taxes and Medicare cuts materialize immediately, years before its benefits kick in. If he loses in the coming weeks, he doesn’t even get the satisfaction of blaming the Republicans. He’s already past the stage at which a GOP filbuster can stop this thing. Instead, he will have lost in a House vote, with members of his own party striking the death blow against his top legislative priority.

At least right now, it seems that a wiser course would have been to follow the apocryphal advice of Sen. George Aiken, R-Vt.  That liberal Republican supposedly recommended that the U.S. declare victory in Vietnam and withdraw.

Likewise, Obama should be seeking a cosmetic victory, after which he should privately acknowledge defeat and run like hell from this issue as quickly as possible. For example, just take that House bill that ends the insurers’ anti-trust exemption — CBO says that it accomplishes nothing, but at least it sounds good — and then maybe throw in something about breast cancer, rape victims, slightly expanding Medicaid, etc.  Then just run that bill through the Senate. What Republican would dare vote against it? 

And then voila, Obama has reformed health care with a large, bipartisan majority. Perhaps a few liberals would be upset by this, but you could probably fit the ones who really understand why into a telephone booth. At long last, the Democrats’ long party nightmare would be over, and they could move to some issue that would divide Republicans instead of themselves. The anger over the congressional bill would ebb at least a bit, and Democrats would enter the summer with the prospect of losing 25 House seats instead of 50.

Unfortunately for Obama, he has already shut himself off from this path by committing to the position that incremental health reforms would be ineffectual. He has placed his entire presidency on the precipice this time, and even he does not appear certain that he can win this fight.

About The Author

David Freddoso

Bio:
David Freddoso came to the Washington Examiner in June 2009, after serving for nearly two years as a Capitol Hill-based staff reporter for National Review Online. Before writing his New York Times bestselling book, The Case Against Barack Obama, he spent three years assisting Robert Novak, the legendary Washington... more
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