The Obama Watch

Obama Doesn’t Care

On health care, our president doesn't sweat the details.

By 12.21.09

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The Senate health care "reform" bill that now has 60 votes and could pass by the end of this week is 2,074 pages long. And President Obama claims to know what's in it. Sort of.

Urging hold-out Democrats to back the bill, on Dec. 15, the president said, "You talk to every health care economist out there and they will tell you that whatever ideas are -- whatever ideas exist in terms of bending the cost curve and starting to reduce costs for families, businesses, and government, those elements are in this bill."

The ideas are in there. Whatever they are.

Moments later, Obama urged senators to not sweat the details and just pass the bill.

"The final bill won't include everything that everybody wants. No bill can do that. But what I told my former colleagues today is that we simply cannot allow differences over individual elements of this plan to prevent us from meeting our responsibility to solve a longstanding and urgent problem for the American people. They are waiting for us to act."

Actually, the American people are screaming for Washington not to act. Only one national poll taken this month shows a majority of Americans in support of the Democrats' health care reform plan, according to Pollster.com. Most show strong opposition.

The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, conducted last week, shows 32 percent of Americans in favor, 47 percent opposed. The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, reported the day after President Obama claimed that the American people were looking to Washington for action, showed that 53 percent disapprove of Obama's handling of health care, 44 percent approve. More than half, 51 percent, opposed the Democrats' health care reform plans, and 44 percent supported them.

Obama's damn-the-details, just-pass-anything approach has lost the support of the nation. Americans would rather Washington slow down and do health care reform right than pass some half-baked scheme.

But Obama doesn't care. He insists on passing something -- anything -- before the 2010 elections, when he might lose the votes he needs to pass a plan that grants Washington enormous new powers and lays the groundwork for a single-payer system.

Republicans ought to be pointing out the dangers in rushing legislation into law. They can start with the story of last week's spending bill. As Fox News has reported, the bill was supposed to allow Amtrak passengers to carry guns on the trains, as long as the guns were locked in a box. But that section was incorrectly worded. The law, which Obama signed last week, requires gun-carrying passengers to be locked in a box for the duration of their trip. (Yes, you read that right.)

There are 2,074 pages in Harry Reid's health care bill. What surprises await? There's no telling. The Democrats want to pass it within five days. Could you finish a 2,074 page bill, written by lawyers, in five days, and understand it? Can your senator?

This bill will entirely remake a sixth of the U.S. economy. It will, as Obama said last week, "touch the lives of nearly every American." The consequences of getting it wrong are tremendous. And yet the president says, don't worry about the details, just pass it. Comforting, isn't it?

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About the Author

Andrew Cline is editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader. You can follow him on Twitter at @Drewhampshire.