There is now full confusion over whether or not the White House has or has not backed away from the public option. On Sunday, HHS Secretary Sebelius suggested that the President could sign a bill that won't have a public option. Then, Senator Kent Conrad said that a public option doesn't have the votes in the Senate to pass. Now, this morning, the White House is back pedaling and claiming that Secretary Sebelius misspoke.
This latest dust up is only the latest in a series of missteps by the White House that puts them on the brink of implosion. The most important political news story of the last few days received scant attention. That story came out on Friday when four DEMOCRATIC Senators came out and called publicly to table cap and trade. This public rejection of cap and trade is the first visible sign of the legislative mutiny that is about to occur of the Obama agenda unless it is moderated and he goes through a transformation and redefines his presidency.
This mutiny from the Democratic Senators comes in part from the very public display of the rejection of the Obama agenda at the town hall protests. Yet, the White House continues to stubbornly insist on moving forward with health care reform in largely its current format. This, despite the fact that all signs point to 1)the bill not passing, 2)growing outrage over the bill from the public and 3)the bill being an explosive political problem. The White House and its allies continue to insist that the town hall protestations are merely fringe and not representative of the whole of America. Simply, they are wrong. The visible display of rejection of Obama's agenda is backed up by every poll. Even the House of Representatives web site continues to crash from all the traffic related to health care. It's hard to believe that massive increase in traffic is a result of support. In fact, ALL the evidence says that the public overwhelmingly hates the health care reform and every piece of the Obama domestic agenda.
The White House continues to insist that all of this is happening due to "mis information". In fact, it's not. This is happening because 1)the bill is a monstrosity and 2)the message to sell it is confused, chaotic, and totally inexplicable. To put just how obscene this bill is into perspective, you only need to know this. The House version of the bill would create 53 new regulatory bodies. There's no justifying that and it's simply frightening to think of what will happen to health care with so many new regulators. All conversations about this bill should start and end there. With 53 new regulators, you simply can't possibly predict what will happen to health care. So, while the White House beats back charges that "death panels" will be created, it says nothing about the bureaucratic nightmare it creates.
As such, this bill deserves a slow and painful death and that's exactly what it's receiving from the month long wall to wall coverage of the town hall protests. In fact, in a stunningly ironic turn of events, the White House has ceded the message to a group of citizen activists engaging in a public protest of not only health care but the very direction the White House wants to take this country. So, we are in week three of what will be more than a month of very public displays of citizen publicly condemning this bill and the agenda at large. The most recent rejection of the administration's policies come in the form of several polls that overwhelmingly reject the notion that the stimulus has anything to do with the recovery and that most people want the rest of the stimulus to go into the pockets of Americans rather than toward government spending.
Yet, the White House insists on moving forward. What those four Democratic Senators show, clearly, is that when the legislators get back to D.C. this bill, or anything near it, won't have the votes to pass. We've only had two weeks of protests and already support for the bill has fallen 5-10 points depending on the poll. That trajectory won't stop. By the end of the month, support will be in 30's, if that. The White House must know that in that environment there won't be enough arms to twist to get it passed.
The worst thing about all of this is that is happening largely as a result of the very fears that were raised, and dismissed, by those most opposed to the president. This is a total and entire failure of leadership. It comes from a lack of legislative and executive experience. Each and every breakdown in the formation of this bill comes from the fact that the White House put it together in a way that shows a total lack political understanding. From letting the most liberal members of the Congress write, to allowing a food fight play out in public among members of the Democratic caucas. to worst of all having no clue in how to sell it, this White House has shown that it is simply clueless.
The White House continues to be at a crossroads. They have two choices. Either they will continue to move forward with their far left agenda. In that case, this administration will challenge Hoover, Carter, et al for the worst president of all time. On the other hand, they can admit to themselves that their far left agenda has no hope of legislative success. In fact, the president has a decision to make. Does he care more about the ideology he believes in or his presidency? His far left agenda has no hope of passing. That is simply no longer in doubt. The polls say the public rejects it. The town halls say the public rejects it. The overwhelmed House site says the public rejects it. The four Democratic Senators who publicly rejected cap and trade say the legislators will reject it. In order for him to have a successful presidency, he will have to moderate. If he cares more about his presidency than his ideology, he will moderate. If not, he is bordering on maniacal.
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