Posted by: Paul | 08/03/2009

Fearing a Second Opinion?

Washington politicians normally spend August reconnecting with voters back home. But after seeing Sen. Arlen Specter’s experience at a recent town hall meeting, many may opt to hit the beach or catch some baseball instead.

Specter faced a roomful of people highly suspicious about the health care bill that President Obama and congressional leaders are eager to ram through as quickly as possible. One woman denounced the $1 trillion, 10-year plan as “a bureaucratic nightmare,” adding: “You want us to believe that a government that can’t even run a cash for clunkers program is going to run one-seventh of our U.S. economy? No sir, no.”

Loud applause broke out. Specter looked flustered.

He then offered an explanation that made things worse: “When you have a bill, and we have a lot of them that are 1,000 pages, is to take my … staff, and we divide up the bill. We have to make judgments very fast.”

The crowd immediately started booing. And who could blame them? We’re talking about a huge bill that would have an enormous impact on millions of Americans. Why are we rushing?

Maybe it’s because this “health” bill is full of little poison pills. A staggering price tag. Government involvement in nearly every aspect of your health care. Fewer insurance choices for millions of Americans (many of whom would be dumped into the public plan when their employers realize that it makes more financial sense to stop offering coverage).

Ask yourself: If this bill is nothing to fear — if it’s exactly what our health care system needs — why hurry? Unless you’ve got something to hide. And it certainly seems like proponents of the bill do. They may say, well, we need to hurry because the other side will demogogue it. But if you’ve got a solid, well-crafted bill, won’t its soundness be apparent to a majority of Americans? And wouldn’t you welcome a chance to refute your opponents, chapter and verse?

After all, the truth is on your side, right?

Unless it isn’t. Unless the bill is actually every bit as bad as its critics say. Unless, as Rep. Barney Frank has admitted, it’s actually a trojan horse for a single-payer system. Like, say, the one they have in Britain. Or Canada, where residents (those who can afford it, anyway) travel to the United States to get their more serious ailments treated.

The unrest over health care isn’t confined to Philadelphia, where Specter’s meeting was held. Indeed, Rep. Lloyd Doggett was surrounded by a crowd that kept chanting, “Just say no!” in his Texas district. In New York, Rep. Tim Bishop has stopped holding town halls altogether, after a protest in late June gave him a scare. The list goes on and on, as Politico notes in a piece titled “Town halls gone wild.”

It’s not hard to see why the Washington Post headlined one of its Sunday articles: “Obama Trims Sails on Health Reform.” Or why, the day before, the Post wrote disapprovingly about how mean old talk radio is warning seniors about “end-of-life” counseling in the bill. Er, I mean, “frightening” seniors. We certainly don’t want to scare them with the facts.

People have reached a boiling point. They’re waking up. That’s unfortunate for those who like to write 1,000-page health care “reform” bills. But for the rest of us, it’s, well, the healthiest thing to happen in a long time.

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