Arizona spends too much time in the headlines (see: Arizona Tragedy: Only Fools Make Sense of Crazy). Saturday’s shootings came after a year of negative media coverage over the state’s landmark immigration enforcement bill, and the resulting condemnation and federal lawsuit. More recently, Arizona ran afoul of critics for discontinuing funding for certain types of transplant procedures because they are too costly for the state’s depleted budget.
Despite ongoing economic blight and the failure to reduce record unemployment, health care reform remains the most contentious issue of Barack Obama’s presidency. The bill embodies everything conservatives despise about big government, and resulted in angry demands for repeal while drafts were still being committed to paper. Republicans promised that one of their first priorities, should they retake control of Congress, would be to wipe this hated piece of legislation off the books forever.
With BP oil leak updates growing more ominous by the day, we expected more bad news from the gulf on Saturday. The president delivered the bad news with his weekly address, but no mention was made of BP. The nation has another, completely unrelated crisis to deal with, and the problem needs to be addressed this week.
Congressional Democrats have been insufferable since the president signed the health care bill. Defenses have been dropped and tongues are wagging in the giddiness over what legislators have persuaded themselves is a seminal event in our history. Max Baucus will eventually regret his widely-reported remark about income “mal-distribution,” but for now hubris knows no bounds. Speaker Pelosi was only half right when she remarked at the March 26 enrollment ceremony that “It is with great pride and even more humility that we come together today to enroll this important legislation.”
Democrats have moved on to sell their interpretation of the bill, eagerly spreading the myth that health insurance will become more affordable, despite their own Congressional Budget Office’s analysis to the contrary (see Obamacare: Socialism of a Different Sort).
While our legislature brought its year-long preoccupation with health care reform to an uncertain conclusion with Obamacare, a report detailing unemployment in our cities was released to scant attention. The figures in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ March 19, 2010 release detail joblessness rising in 363 of 372 metropolitan areas during 2009, to reach 15% or more in thirty-five areas by January 2010, almost 50% higher than the national unemployment rate.
The president has been hard at work quashing that nasty takeover rumor that has been dogging his plans for the government to assume control of our health care system. The Health Care Summit underscored the enormity of the gap separating Democrats and Republicans, and proved once and for all to even the most jaded optimists that a meeting of the minds in the legislative arena was impossible, and that hijacking our legislative process would also be necessary to accomplish the president’s ambitions.
Politics is an unpredictable beast. One moment, Scott Brown’s election to the Senate looks like the death blow to health care reform. Now, scant weeks later, Brown has defected to support Harry Reid’s jobs bill instead of seizing the opportunity to chastise the majority leader for wasting our money while refusing to include extensions of unemployment and COBRA benefits in the legislation.
I turned off the coverage of the Massachusetts election long before Senator Coakley gave her concession speech. In a country that prides itself on its democratic process, one has to wonder whether we are resting on our laurels when we allow the outcome of a single Senate race to determine the course of our lives and the financial future of our country.