You know it and I know it, but it’s always been an open question whether they know it too. I think Obama and Pelosi do. This was their chance to set the country on the path to welfare-state nirvana and they calculated — quite astutely — that it was worth sacrificing their majority to do so. Control of Congress will come and go, but a dependent electorate is forever. Whether the caucus and their idiot base calculated the same way or whether they really convinced themselves that the boondoggle to end all boondoggles was a political winner is more of a mystery. Or was. Via Geraghty, a tidbit from Howard Fineman:
A Democratic senator I can’t name, who reluctantly voted for the health-care bill out of loyalty to his party and his admiration for Barack Obama, privately complained to me that the measure was political folly, in part because of the way it goes into effect: some taxes first, most benefits later, and rate hikes by insurance companies in between.
Besides that, this Democrat said, people who already have coverage will feel threatened and resentful about helping to cover the uninsured—an emotion they will sanitize for the polltakers into a concern about federal spending and debt.
On the day the president signed into law the “fix-it” addendum to the massive health-care measure, two new polls show just how fearful and skeptical Americans are about the entire enterprise. If the numbers stay where they are—and it’s not clear why they will change much between now and November—then the Democrats really are in danger of colossal losses at the polls.
I say this even though I was one of those who always said that Obama would get a bill passed—and that, politically, he personally had no choice but to get it done if he wanted to have a successful presidency. But his reputation as a can-do guy was purchased at a very high political cost.
So it was. In today’s new Gallup numbers, not only is his disapproval at 50 percent for the first time, 53 percent call the Democrats’ tactics “an abuse of power.” They didn’t end up using the Slaughter strategy, so I can only assume the “abuse” is a reference to the dealmaking and to using reconciliation to nuke the filibuster. Remember when the left assured us that voters never pay attention to the legislative sausage-making process? Keep that memory close to your heart in November too.
Now here’s where I do a little “I told you so.” New from CNN:
Fifty-five percent of Republicans questioned in the survey say they are now extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this November, up six points from January. Democrats are also up five points from January, with 36 percent of those questioned saying they are extremely or very enthusiastic about casting ballots in the midterms.
“The health care vote seems to have made some Democrats more eager to vote in November, but it has also activated more Republican voters, so the Democrats still face the same double-digit ‘enthusiasm gap’ they had before the vote,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
And so the big Democratic surge in enthusiasm, which nutroots pundits insisted made passing O-Care an absolute political necessity, ends up being less than the surge in enthusiasm among Republicans — as expected. In fact, the GOP actually picked up a point on the generic ballot after the bill passed. They lead 49/45 now overall and 53/35 among independents. And so, I wonder: Did the left ever really believe that the mother of all welfare-state incursions would produce a stronger reaction among Democrats than Republicans? Or was that cynical garbage they were pushing in hopes that some of the dimmer lights in the Democratic caucus would be scared by it? Let the debate rage.
I’ll leave you with this story at Politico quoting several left-leaning pollsters who predicted that there’d be little bounce, were vehemently challenged on it by Obama’s chump pollster, and now get to do the “pity of it all” head shake. Note the quote from Doug Schoen about the “marginal impact” passage will have on the base. Oh, and if you’re still angry at your Blue Dog congressman for gifting your children with this costly new liability, here’s a fun idea: Send him or her a commemorative Barack Obama health-care certificate. With some bus money, preferably, so he/she has transportation out of D.C. in January.