I worked for the Seattle Times editorial board for several years as the lone conservative. It was a center-left paper then, and remains so today. The board took a few right-leaning positions (opposition to the death tax, for example), but is usually a reliable voice for the Democrat/statist establishment. The paper initially supported Obamacare, but this week, it dropped its support. Sign of the times, White House. Listen up:
This is a change of position for us. This page supported Barack Obama for president, enthusiastically. We have supported the health-care effort until now. We still support universal coverage as a social goal.
But the longer the fight goes on, the more it feels that the timing is all wrong. The economy is wounded. Employers are hurting. The time to think about loading employers with new burdens is when they are strong. Not now…
President Obama has promised that any health-care bill he signs will not add one dime to the deficit, which already has swelled beyond anything since World War II. The president has put himself in a position where he cannot keep that promise. He has let each house of Congress come up with its own health-care bills.
The result has been chaos: The public option is in then out; the Medicare buy-in for 55-year-olds is in, then out. When the congressional dance stops, the Senate may have 60 votes, but for what? It will satisfy neither Obama’s frugal promise nor progressives’ lavish hopes. Already the Democratic Party’s former chairman, Howard Dean, says the bill is not worth passing in this form.
You know he’s right when you hear statements that something has to be passed, for political reasons. This issue is too important for that. It should wait for a unified proposal and an economy on the mend.
The center-left New York Daily News is also urging Obama to pull the plug:
Health reform: Down the stretch it comes. President Obama has gone so far as to postpone an overseas trip in a last-ditch push to get a comprehensive reform bill to his desk.
He shouldn’t waste his energy.
Not with unemployment justifiably the nation’s top concern and the possibility of a double-dip recession still looming. Remember how Obama said, in his State of the Union reboot, “Jobs must be our No. 1 focus in 2010”? Well, apparently he doesn’t.
Not with the American people abandoning the President’s prescription in huge numbers. Just one in four voters supports the reform bill as written; half want Congress to start over. Compare that with the popular support other major pieces of social legislation enjoyed before passage, like welfare reform (68%), Medicare (63%) and civil rights (60%).
Not with health care costs having risen 73% over the last decade – with Medicaid growing at 21% a year – and showing no signs of coming down to Earth. Controlling costs is the absolute, unconditional, a-blind-man-could-see-it prerequisite for expanding coverage.
Not with American health care quality actually quite impressive in many respects, including world-leading rates for patients surviving cancer and among the shortest wait times for hard-to-find treatments and surgeries.
Not with a half-dozen accounting gimmicks built into the legislation – including the fact that federal budget projections are based on 10 years worth of tax collections and just six years of spending increases.
Not with the Senate, lacking even a single Republican vote, having to resort to reconciliation, a little-used parliamentary maneuver, to get it through. Sure, it’s been used before – but not on anything that has such limited public support.
Not after all the cynical back room deals – deals Obama has committed to removing – having frayed the public trust. With legislation of this magnitude, that is not a renewable resource.
The Cincinnati Enquirer editorial board blasts the Dems’ arrogance:
America’s robust discussion of health care reform during the past year has been beneficial in many ways, giving the public greater awareness and insight into this complex issue.
Unfortunately, the debate has been held pretty much on one-party terms as Democrats, controlling both houses of Congress and the White House, crafted the only plan allowed on
the table, and negotiated behind closed doors.
Now, despite the deep reservations of a majority of Americans, congressional leaders plan to ram through their proposal this week – bypassing
normal congressional procedures.
It is a distressing prospect. We hope that moderate House Democrats – among them Rep. Steve Driehaus of Cincinnati, who says he “will not bend on the principle of federal funding on abortion” but will be stuck in the middle of an elaborate charade to include that funding anyway – will put a stop to this sham.
Real debate has been sidestepped, while Democrats played a childish game of Catch-22 with health care legislation: Congressional leaders wouldn’t allow Republican proposals to be formally considered, then turned around and
accused them of not having alternatives. Among themselves, Democrats cut a series of backroom deals that in any other context would be considered criminal payoffs and bribery.
One more from the Washington Post editorial board:
WE UNDERSTAND the administration’s sense of urgency on health-care reform. But what is intended as a final sprint threatens to turn into something unseemly and, more important, contrary to Democrats’ promises of transparency and time for deliberation.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Monday that she is leaning toward a parliamentary maneuver under which the House would vote on a package of changes to the Senate-approved reform bill, and the underlying Senate bill would then be “deemed” to have passed, even though the House had never voted on it. That may help some House members dodge a politically difficult decision, but it strikes us as a dodgy way to reform the health-care system. Democrats who vote for the package will be tagged with supporting the Senate bill in any event. Why not be straightforward about it?
More worrying is that Congress and the country have yet to see the changes, for which Democrats hope to win quick House approval and which they then hope to speed through the Senate under a procedure that would bar filibusters. These changes — the so-called reconciliation bill — are not all minor “fixes”; some could have far-reaching consequences. Such changes deserve to be fully understood and debated before they are voted on.
When mainstream media newspaper editorial boards across the country are condemning your arrogance, culture of corruption, and subversion of the deliberative process, it is time to change course.