WASHINGTON -- President Obama had this big idea. He would kick off his White House tour with a giant initiative like overhauling the nation's health care system, something his last Democratic predecessor tried to do but failed miserably. The best way to do that he figured was to let his Democratic allies in the Congress actually map out how to accomplish such a monumental task. It was an enormous mistake made on bad advice.
Two years later the giant plan they finally hatched in their liberal wisdom and he signed into law amid huge fanfare has cost his party much of its clout in the legislature, a sizable loss in his popularity and at least one declaration of unconstitutionality by a federal district judge in Virginia who ruled just recently that the nation's governing document didn't allow forcing health insurance on everyone, a key component of the new act. So much in turmoil is Obama's health care "reform" that it will occupy much of his domestic attention for the rest of his term along with the deficit.
The Justice Department has declared its intention to seek an appeal in the next highest court. The federal barristers may be busy for some time seeing that there are 24 such suits and probably more to come. Ultimately, of course, the whole mess will have to be sorted out by the U.S. Supreme Court. However long that will take is anyone's guess, but the sooner the better.
In the meantime, the newly enhanced Republican forces in the House and Senate promise a full-blown assault on the act. If they fail to overturn it completely, they hope to chip away at what they consider the more odious parts, adding more confusion to what only can be described as a potentially hideous nightmare of unintended consequences. The Republicans argue not unconvincingly that such action has been mandated by the November elections that returned them to control of the House and gave them much more clout in the Senate. Whether or not that was the sole reason for the GOP resurgence is arguable, but the unpopularity of the initiative and the stubbornness of the Democrats in the face of that can't be discounted.
For instance, the polls show that two thirds of Americans, some 7 out of 10, believe that forcing them to buy health insurance under the threat of fine is just plain wrong. They believe it is a flagrant violation of their constitutional liberties and to borrow a famous movie phrase, they're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Well, we'll see. Lest we forget, the president himself didn't favor trying to force insurance on those who didn't want it and actually campaigned against that approach in 2008. But that is what happens when one makes a decision not to involve one's self in the details of the initiative one has hatched. Something gets lost in the lack of leadership and there are political consequences.
There is little doubt the liberal wing of the party saw the entire package as the first step toward a universal single payer plan, an idea they have been pushing for decades without much success. Those supporting the compulsory insurance section contend it is the only way to make certain all those now without insurance are covered and to do away with it would gut the package. Others say it is not that important. Some say they believe paying the fine would be cheaper than the insurance premiums they would be forced to pay. Others say without the larger pool of insured the compulsory section would bring, rates would have to go up for everyone to cover those who don't have coverage. Some say blah, blah, blah. Others say the same thing.
In the end what this all comes down to is the election of a bright, young man with only two years experience in the Congress and small time on-the-job training before that. Under those circumstances he was bound to make mistakes and nothing shows that more than this half-baked, overly complex, monstrous piece of legislation that has dragged him and his party through the political briar patch.