View From Lodi, CA Pittsburgh, PA: Obamacare Has Boxed Democrats Into A Lose-Lose Proposition
December 11, 2009, 04:00 AM
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Congress faces so many challenges in its effort to pass a comprehensive health care plan that I can't envision how any final legislation could ever be approved.

To begin with, despite a House 81-seat Democratic margin and months of tedious debate, Pelosi's Obamacare version eked out the narrowest 220-215 victory. 

Since July, the argument about what should be in health care reform has grown tedious and beyond the average American's comprehension.

According to House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, there have more than 81 hours of Committee markups on the bill, over 86 hours of hearings, and in excess of 203 hours of Democratic Caucuses.

Democrats have held roughly 3,000 public events on health reform this year, including almost 2,000 between August and December.

To follow the daily changing blips on the health care radar screen requires more attention and energy than most care to invest. Keeping current on the inconsequential Tiger Woods is easier and has a lascivious appeal so popular among many.

That's not to suggest that Americans were ever up to speed on health care.

Despite the consequences of a $1 trillion legislation that would dramatically overhaul the U.S. health care system and extend coverage to millions of currently uninsured with a mandatory (and unconstitutional) requirement for many to buy insurance, the subject is simply too dense.

An August AARP commissioned survey found that only 37 percent of all Americans could correctly define "public option".

Of those polled, 23 percent admitted that they have no idea while another 26 percent thought it meant a health care system similar to Great Britain's. The remaining 13 percent identified it as forming a series of cooperatives.

The correct answer, broadly, is that the public option as defined by Democrats makes public health insurance available alongside private plans for some uninsured Americans.

Allowing for all the flaws and criticisms about polls and how their questions are worded, the AARP results underline the skepticism Americans have about any government managed program.

Warning: The following paragraph may be obsolete by the time you read it.

The latest in the never-ending Senate saga came Tuesday night when Majority Leader Harry Reid announce that he and 10 of his Democratic colleagues reached "a broad agreement" to resolve a dispute over a proposed government-run health insurance plan, which has posed the biggest obstacle to passage of sweeping health care legislation.

Predictably, Reid provided no details.

The Senate cannot come to grips with two crucial public option questions.

First, how many Americans would sign up for the public option however it may ultimately be defined? Second, would it lower or raise insurance premiums for other Americans?

In all the months that have passed since debate began, an interesting, unintended development may have boxed the Democrats into a corner from which they have no escape.

When health care legislation was first proposed months ago, polls indicated that most Americans supported the measure. At the same time, Obama's popularity ratings were high.

Now however, only 38 percent of Americans support health care while Obama's approval rating has dropped to -10, his lowest since his inauguration.

Indicators suggest that both health care and Obama will continue to lose popularity as time drags on.

What started out as legislation that the Democrats perceived as one the nation favored, and that could become Obama's signature domestic achievement, may turn out to be one that Americans oppose and could spell major Congressional defeats for the Democrats.

If Obamacare fails, Americans will correctly ask why Congress wasted so much time and taxpayer money on doomed legislation.

And should it pass, voters might demand to know why the government forced horrendously expensive health care down their throats. 

The lose-lose scenario could haunt Obama all the way to 2012.

Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.