Ryan Booth is doing a terrific job of chronicling developments with respect to the vote count on Obamacare, and Hayride readers interested in the ongoing developments are strongly encouraged to re-visit his post on the subject often. It’s Ryan’s opinion that Obamacare is going to fail, by however small a margin.
I’m not convinced either way. I think at some point the Democrats are going to run out of bribes and threats to sway the remaining holdouts – while they’ve got lots of goodies to throw around in that reconciliation bill which might grease a Matheson or Costa or even Altmire, the longer this goes on the more outrage the American people demonstrate about both how this is done and how bad the policy actually is; they’re already bleeding votes as a result of the bill’s unpopularity and if they can’t get to 216 soon this thing could collapse.
And of course, because this thing has devolved into a cross between a barroom brawl and the Battle of Stalingrad it has engrossed the American people and those around the world. We now find out that the president is abandoning foreign policy so as to direct the battle against the American people from Washington, putting off a scheduled trip to Australia (one of this country’s closest allies, which means it might be good that Obama won’t be insulting them this weekend) and Indonesia until June.
But at some point – we’re now being told that it’s going to be Sunday, but I’ll believe it when I see it – this round of the struggle for the soul of the country will end. In the event Nancy Pelosi and her “giddy” House Majority Whip James Clyburn manage to drag Obamacare across the finish line, what then?
Well, taxes go up immediately. And Medicare cuts kick in just prior to the election in November, which as Dick Morris notes will make for a large number of senior citizens waking up to find that doctors willing to treat them are few and far between; because the implications of those cuts are so draconian in what could likely be an electoral holocaust for the Democrats anyway upon this bill’s passage are so severe that the guess here is they’ll lose their nerve and put those cuts off.
Which means, of course, that a budget deficit which is going off at better than $200 billion a month right now probably gets even worse. Better to run up budget deficits, which haven’t hurt anybody electorally yet, than Grandpa not being able to find a croaker who will diagnose his lumbago on the up-and-up because of Medicare.
We could launch into a digressive tirade on the effect a spiraling budget deficit arising from a refusal by Congress to put Medicare cuts through in advance of the election, but we don’t need to do that here. Suffice it to say that China, inflation and bond ratings are all potential factors.
But let’s just say the deficit chickens don’t come home to roost as a result of the Medicare issue. Let’s assume the Obama administration and the Democrats in Congress manage to avoid an economic reckoning from refusing to cut Medicare. Even the early steps in Obamacare are going to exacerbate the underlying weakness in the health care system which has been driving up costs all along – namely, we do not have enough doctors to service an aging population of 300 million Americans.
There are approximately 800,000 doctors practicing in America now, and Obamacare is going to run a great many of them out of the profession. A poll of 1,200 doctors which appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine this week found that if Obamacare was passed into law, 29 percent would retire or quit. And if a “public option” – which those in the medical profession understand is the fast lane to socialized medicine – is put in place, that 29 percent number jumps to 46 percent. The most recent poll was treated as a gargantuan surprise, at least where it was even reported (the mainstream media largely ignored it), but its findings were completely consistent with a poll of 1,376 doctors that Investors’ Business Daily had done back in August of last year. The IBD poll found a virtually identical number – 45 percent – of doctors would get out of the game if the August version of Obamacare were to go into law (that, incidentally, was the House version of the bill which more or less returns to life if the Reconciliation Bill the Democrats want to pass this weekend finds its way into law).
So of the 800,000 doctors practicing now, if these polls are to be believed, only about 560,000 will still be hanging around hospitals and clinics. The rest might be running for Congress – as Republicans – or maybe opening fee-for-services practices in places like Cozumel, Nassau and Tegucigalpa. Having your doctors – who are a strategic national resource, by the way – decide to go Galt en masse is going to cause prices for medicine to skyrocket, which will be reflected in health insurance premiums and a move toward rationing at the state and local level. Chaos in emergency rooms is a virtual certainty, state Medicaid programs will be hit even harder than they already are and private insurance carriers are likely to be drowning in red ink by October. If the Democrats think this process is a necessary friction along the way to creating a European-style system, they haven’t done their political homework. This thing passes, and they will own every bad result from then on – which is why their jury-rigging the implementation of Obamacare to get the 10-year budget score from the Congressional Budget Office they wanted is so incredibly dumb politically. They front-load the pain on this bill and offer none of the entitlements, so the public support for it doesn’t look like it will get any better than it is now, at least not before this fall’s elections or even before the 2012 elections.
In the meantime, the legal mess the Slaughter Rule on top of the individual mandates to purchase health insurance will bring to the table is going to reach full bloom very soon. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has put Pelosi on notice that he’ll be filing suit in the U.S. Eastern District of Virginia – which has a reputation for being a “rocket docket” for its rapidity in moving cases along – in an attempt to break Obamacare on constitutional grounds, both as a result of the individual mandates and the Article I, Section 7 deficiencies of the Slaughter Rule. Cuccinelli isn’t alone; in Idaho the governor has just signed a bill into law which mandates its attorney general to sue the federal government if individual mandates are part of the final Obamacare package.
And in Louisiana, Sen. A.G. Crowe has filed a bill which he said today he expects to pass both houses which would seek to nullify Obamacare on five constitutional bases not including Article I, Section 7. Crowe’s bill is driven by the individual mandates and the abortion issue as well as others.
In all, the Associated Press counts 37 states in various stages of drafting or enacting legislation to challenge Obamacare. As Idaho’s governor Brian Otter says, “The ivory tower folks will tell you, ‘No, they’re not going anywhere.’ But I’ll tell you what, you get 36 states, that’s a critical mass. That’s a constitutional mass.”
Before the states can get in on the act, radio host and constitutional scholar Mark Levin might well beat them to the punch. Levin, who runs a non-profit constitutional law outfit called the Landmark Legal Foundation, has prepared a lawsuit to challenge Obamacare on several constitutional grounds – most notably Article I, Section 7. As the American Spectator’s Jeffrey Lord writes, the text of the complaint is devastating:
Don’t let the dryness of this language fool you. Plainly stated, Levin is saying bluntly that a piece of major legislation, legislation that could reduce a huge chunk of the American economy to economic chaos, is being “passed” into law with only one House of Congress, the U.S. Senate, approving. And that the President of the United States intends to affix his signature, in a deliberate violation of the Constitution, to this “Senate Bill upon presentment to him.”
Levin accuses Obama and Holder of intending to deprive Americans of their Fifth Amendment guarantee to “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” He adds that, “Under color of law, the Defendants intend to collect taxes, remove and replace insurance benefits, and re-write health insurance contracts affecting Plaintiffs and Landmark’s employees.”
Also writing in the American Spectator, Peter Ferrara notes another potential consequence of Obamacare. This one takes place after the Republicans get hold of either the House or the Senate, or both. And it’s both a perfectly justifiable action and a very sad commentary on the state of our legislative framework. Ferrara suggests that if Pelosi uses Slaughter to deem the Senate bill into law, then a Republican House majority could simply deem the Senate bill as not having been passed…
If Democrats claim to have passed Obamacare through this Banana Republic methodology, the new Republican Congressional majorities elected this fall can and will “deem” Obamacare not to have passed. For no actual legislation with identical texts will then have passed both the House and the Senate, as the Constitution requires. The new Speaker of the House and the new Senate Majority Leader can and will instruct Congressional officers to remove the Obamacare provisions from the U.S. Code. The new House and Senate majorities can and will also refuse to fund any of the provisions of Obamacare, including the 100 new bureaucracies, boards, commissions and programs. Naturally, this will leave the state of the law unclear, and disputed, just like in a typical Banana Republic.
In short, absolute chaos. Chaos in the health care industry, including a breakdown of the medical profession and private insurance. Chaos in employment, as without any clear rules on what health care costs will be employers will be loath to hire new employees on anything other than a temporary or contract basis. Chaos in constitutional law, as the multitude of states revolting against Obamacare will likely break down the relationship between the federal government and state governments (this might well be a good thing in the long run, but it’s the last thing many states headed for bankruptcy need right now). And chaos in American politics, because when the Republicans begin exacting their revenge on Obama for the passage of this bill the stakes – already far too high for a healthy republic – will rise infinitely higher, as with each election the American people are going to be forced to choose between competing and incompatible models of health care delivery.
This is precisely why the founders of the Republic created a political system which made it nearly impossible to enact far-reaching social legislation without a broad consensus. They knew how destructive such legislation could be to the fabric of the country and its economy, not to mention individual liberty. One can only hope, when this disastrous episode is finally over, that the American people and their leaders will be moved to take a fresh look at our Founding Fathers and pay heed to the Constitution as it was originally written and their explanations as to why.