I’ve been watching the Sebelius/Obamacare hearings this morning. The Secretary keeps reminding us that the ACA is the law of the land. Her choir members on the dais use their solos to remind viewers that Republicans should be rooting for the ACA rather than gloating over the website’s failures. And they may be right.
But then there’s this: the ACA passed on the barest of majorities. In the House, the vote was 219-212–with not a single Republican saying yes. In the Senate, it was 60-39, again with no Republican (Senator Jim Bunning, R-Ky, did not vote). If you prefer your votes in terms of percentages, the vote in the House was 50.57% to 49.43%, in the Senate, 60% to 39% (and that vote ignores the shenanigans the Senate employed to act before Scott Brown joined that august body). Add all the ayes together, and you’ll find that 50.15% of Congress voted for the law, and 46.92% said no. And with that and President Obama’s signature, the Affordable Care Act did, in fact, become the law of the land, and the Federal government assumed control of 1/6th of the economy of the United States.
All that to say this, or rather, to repeat an anecdote about Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and some advice he gave President Bill Clinton:
Twenty years ago, when he was trying to persuade Bill and Hillary Clinton that universal health care was a politically unrealistic goal, the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan repeated one insistent warning: Sweeping, historic laws don’t pass barely.’They pass 70-to-30,’ he said, ‘or they fail.’
Moynihan was not alone in this opinion. The Politico story continues:
Four years ago, when he was trying to persuade Barack Obama that he would pay a terrible price for jamming health care reform through a reluctant Congress on a partisan vote, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel begged his boss to settle for a vastly scaled-down plan.
If the Affordable Care Act fails, it will not be because Republicans opposed it. It will be because Democrats ignored the advice of Moynihan and Emanuel: massive, historic legislation requires massive, bipartisan support. If you don’t have it, you suffer the consequences.
Hubris. It was hubris that killed the beast.