The New York Times has a terrific graphic depiction today of the dramatic shift to the right in Tuesday’s elections.
The American people have been trying to tell Washington that we are a center-right country in every way they could — from town hall meetings, marches on Washington, and electing Republicans in very blue states, to creation of an entirely new political movement. Washington didn’t listen.
And the astonishing thing is that President Obama and Speaker Pelosi apparently STILL don’t hear you!
The speaker insisted after Tuesday’s “shellacking” of her Democratic caucus that she has “no regrets.” And in his news conference on Wednesday, President Obama refused to acknowledge that the elections were a referendum on his unpopular policies, saying that he believes his health policy agenda was correct and may only need a bit of “tweaking.”
The president clearly is in denial. Health care reform was very much a key factor in Tuesday’s elections: New poll results out Wednesday from Bill McInturff and Public Opinion Strategies (POS) show that a vote for the president’s signature health care law was a death knell for candidates.
All five of the House Democrats who flipped from “no” to “yes” on final passage of the law in March lost their races. Two others retired, and Republicans took their seats. Sen. Russ Feingold (D., Wis.) and Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D., N.D.) were two rare Democrats who actively defended their votes for ObamaCare. Both lost.
Mr. Obama had promised Democrats who were nervous about voting for the unpopular bill last March that he had their backs: If they voted for his signature legislation, he said he would work relentlessly to overcome public opposition and convince the American people the $1 trillion law was good for them and for the country.
It didn’t work. Despite the sweeteners added to the bill to provide early appeal — such as coverage for pre-existing conditions, allowing 26-year-old “children” to stay on their parents’ health insurance and free preventive care — the American people weren’t convinced.
They know that the law’s $500 billion in new taxes will be passed on to consumers in higher health costs and insurance premiums. Business owners are aghast at the avalanche of mandates and new costs, stifling job creation. Seniors know you can’t cut $500 billion out of Medicare and make their coverage more secure. And voters know that the mandatory expansion of Medicaid will explode state budgets.
Anger was up close and personal with incumbent Democrats, especially those in the most competitive congressional districts.
Voters, who were basically told to shut up after last year’s tumultuous town hall meetings about ObamaCare, patiently held their fire and flocked to the polls Tuesday. Seniors in particular said they were opposed to the health overhaul by almost two to one, and they voted in greater numbers on Tuesday than they did in 2008.
But the president is not backing down. While he said he is willing to work with Republicans to refine the law, he said it would be “misreading the election if we thought that the American people want to see us for the next two years relitigate arguments that we had over the last two years.”
In his news conference, the president said “we can tweak and make improvements on the progress that we’ve made,” yet he insisted he will forge ahead.
So what should Republicans do? The job of the new Congress will be to craft policies that will forestall the wreckage of ObamaCare in hopes they can buy time for a repeal of the whole bill in 2013. The American people know it needs a lot more than “tweaking.”
The law is fundamentally and structurally counter to the American values of freedom, limited government, and individual control over our lives and destiny.
Republicans in Congress now have a dual challenge: First, they must take action to assure voters that they intend to put the brakes on the health overhaul law, and second, they must articulate their own solutions for the very real problems in our health sector.
They would be well advised to take a step-by-step approach to reform. They should target the most unpopular parts of the law for immediate repeal. For example, Mr. Obama acknowledged in his news conference the provision in the health law that requires businesses to report all of their transactions totaling $600 or more to the IRS is highly unpopular. Start there in dismantling the most egregious provisions of the law.
And House leaders should look to conservative Democrats who survived Tuesday’s tidal wave to forge coalitions that could garner enough votes to override a likely presidential veto on other unpopular provisions, such as the individual mandate.
The individual mandate is opposed by the vast majority of Americans, and opposition will only grow as they learn more about its costs and impact. The House could pass legislation calling for its repeal and include in the same legislation a replacement plan for targeted tax credits for the uninsured and revised rules for high-risk pools to give states more flexibility to actually make them work.
Congress also will be getting a great deal of pressure from up to 25 newly elected governors who will be disinclined to go along with the avalanche of requirements to comply with the health law. They will want flexibility, for example, to redefine an acceptable structure for a Health Insurance Exchange — more likely following the loosely regulated Utah model rather than the highly prescriptive federal health law.
Congress should allow purchase of health insurance across state lines and focus on medical malpractice insurance. That will be plenty enough for the next two years.
Let the renewal begin!
CLIP OF THE WEEK
In this video, Joe Rago of The Wall Street Journal describes the way the government sets prices in the Medicare system, and the impact of pending regulations in the health sector.
Watch now >>
GALEN IN THE NEWS
Grace-Marie’s commentary today is adapted from several of her articles published this week:
Anger Over Health Reform Swamped Dems
Grace-Marie Turner, The Sacramento Bee, 11/04/10
ObamaCare Takes a Shellacking
Grace-Marie Turner, National Review Online: Critical Condition, 11/03/10
Riding an Elevator with John Boehner: What Would You Say?
Grace-Marie Turner, Kaiser Health News, 11/03/10
With Newly-Elected Governors, GOP Gains Clout To Fight Health Reform Law
Julie Appleby and Mary Agnes Carey, Kaiser Health News, 11/03/10
Puerto Rican Madness
Grace-Marie Turner, Galen Institute
The Daily Caller, 11/02/10
Puerto Rican Gov. Luis Fortuno plans to cut personal income and corporate taxes for Puerto Rican-based companies, but he is paying for it with $5.8 billion in new taxes that target several dozen major U.S. companies operating on the island, Turner writes. Most of the several dozen companies impacted are pharmaceutical and biotech companies that already have had their research budgets drained by ObamaCare’s taxes. The biotech industry alone accounts for at least one-quarter of the island’s GDP and is responsible for 100,000 jobs. Puerto Rico needs to get to work to lift regulatory burdens, reduce taxes across the board, and provide new opportunities and incentives for people to work, save, and invest. A middle-of-the-night, surprise attack on the major employers on the island is a prescription for disaster.
Read More »
OTHER ARTICLES OF INTEREST:
Seeking a Healthcare Compromise
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, RealClearMarkets, 11/04/10
A Primer on the Constitutionality of Health Reform
Ilya Shapiro and Trevor Burns, The Health Reform Report, 11/03/10
The GOP Can Outsmart ObamaCare
Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., The Wall Street Journal, 11/03/10
Will the Individual Mandate Solve the Uninsured Problem?
JP Wieske, Council for Affordable Health Insurance, 10/10
Hearing Aid: How Midterm Elections Affect Health Care
Peter J. Pitts, Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, 11/10
Obama Is Dismantling Private Health Care
Bill Wilson, The Examiner, 10/30/10
Confessions of a Price Controller
Joseph Antos, The American, 10/30/10
The Other Part of Safety & Innovation
Peter Pitts, Drugwonks, 11/01/10
Arizona, Oklahoma Voters Reject ObamaCare Insurance Requirement
Merrill Matthews, Forbes: Right Directions, 11/03/10
SAVE THE DATE!
Challenges and Changes: The Next Chapter in the Health Reform Debate
Galen Institute, American Action Forum, and Institute for Policy Innovation Event
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
9:30am – 2:00pm
Regulation and Reimbursement for Medical Devices
American Enterprise Institute and The Brookings Institution Event
Friday, November 5, 2010
9:00am – 12:30pm
2010 Election Results: The New Conservative Agenda and What it Means for Women
Conservative Women’s Network Luncheon
Friday, November 5, 2010
Grace-Marie Turner will speak about the impact of health reform on women.
Scaring Seniors: The AARP Drug-Price Reports
American Enterprise Institute Event
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
12:30pm – 1:45pm
The Emerging Field of eHealth, mHealth and Telemedicine: Key Milestones and Players
George Washington University Event
Thursday, November 11, 2010
11:30am – 1:30pm
An Evening with Mark Steyn to Support Health Freedom
Citizens’ Council on Health Care Event
Thursday, November 11, 2010
7:30pm – 9:00pm
2010 Annual Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
November 11-16, 2010
Grace-Marie Turner will speak about the “Impact of Health Care Reform on Allergists” at the House of Delegates Town Hall Forum at 4:00pm on Friday, November 11.
Have You Addressed the Compliance Requirements in the New Health Care Reform Law?
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Free to Choose Medicine: How Faster Access to New Drugs Would Save Countless Lives and End Needless Suffering
George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center and Competitive Enterprise Institute Luncheon
Friday, November 19, 2010
12:00pm – 1:30pm
To register, email RegulatoryStudies@gwu.edu.