Obama’s Pyrrhic victory will cost Democrats much in the long run
President Obama is about to learn that there is a high price for winning a battle at any cost.
After months of bribing, threatening, cajoling and terrifying members of his own party — he managed to pass a massive step toward the socialization of the American health care system. This even though a larger percentage of the Americans opposed the plan than elected him.
In retrospect, it is a pretty mean feat to have the largest majority in both congressional houses in decades and have it take 10 months and an endless stream of political parlor tricks to pass a piece of legislation that at one point was crucial to the survival of his presidency. That part at least has changed. The legislation is no longer crucial to his presidency, but is now something that he and his party are saddled with for the upcoming elections and to the end of what is likely to be his first and final term in office.
A signing ceremony was rapidly arranged as the president’s repeated promise of five days of public examination before he signed any legislation disappeared into the distance, along with other promises of transparency, bipartisanship and the end of politics as usual in Washington. The partisan buffoonery on display at that event was something that Evita Peron might have enjoyed, but is not usually seen in American politics and certainly not something a wise political strategist wants to see replayed endlessly on YouTube.
There was some silliness to equal it on MSNBC and CNN, as hosts capered and discussed “change you’d better believe in.” But since their antics were on television outlets substantially below the Cartoon Network in viewership, it’s unlikely many people had an opportunity to enjoy them. I imagine a certain amount of similar behavior occurred as the Trojans happily pulled the wooden horse past the gates of their city.
This piece of legislation does indeed spell trouble in the Democrats’ midst because it is not only a piece of constitutionally suspect law, arrogantly forced on the American electorate, it is a staggeringly expensive boondoggle that is doomed to failure.
After all, a smaller version is already a failure in Massachusetts, where Gov. Mitt Romney in 2006 tried to institute a similar piece of mandated health coverage with subsidies for those at 150 percent of the federal poverty level. The result has been a continuing high number of uninsured along with a spike in health insurance premiums such that a Boston Globe columnist commented that an individual earning approximately $31,000 per year will pay over $9,800 in premiums and co-pays.
Moreover, the cost for the Massachusetts program jumped from $630 million in 2007 to $1.3 billion in 2009, which is unsustainable. There is nothing in this national legislation to suggest it will fare any better in lowering health care costs, much less halting a skyrocketing deficit.
As the proud and sole owners of this carnival of buncombe, the Democratic Party will live with its consequences. As an example, one of the first acts of this legislation will be to hire some 17,000 IRS agents to ensure the population obeys the nation’s first ever requirement that citizens pay a fee as a condition of their citizenship.
Victories like this are indeed short-lived and transient, and this one has already been dubbed Pyrrhic by many commentators, in reference to the third century Greek king who, having won two extremely costly battles against a small but strong city, reportedly said that with one more such victory he would be undone.
History bears out that the ultimate victor of those campaigns was not our poor King Pyrrhus. We do not commonly recall the kingdoms on whose behalf he fought, but we do recall the small but proud city he tried to crush — Rome.
Rick Wagner offers more thoughts on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong, which can be reached through the blogs entry at GJSentinel.com.