After Democrats finish dancing in the streets to celebrate narrow passage of new health care laws Sunday night, they’re likely to switch to another favorite pastime: shifting blame.
Why? Because there are two bills, with one being enacted into law but the other still hung up in the process, very possibly indefinitely.
That will likely lead to a classic game of political spin and propaganda. President Obama’s has admitted that the first bill—which passed and he is signing into law—is deeply flawed. But the second bill—the supposed clean-up-and-fix-the-first bill—may never become law.
That second bill would not fix the basic flaws of the $2.6 trillion plan, and includes its own tax increases, too. But the left will pretend that it would by describing it only in broad terms as a fix-it bill that was blocked by that nasty GOP.
In this way, President Obama and his team will claim praise for everything seen as good in the new law. Complaints about its defects (which are legion) will be explained away as not their fault.
How can the GOP be blamed since neither bill got Republican votes?
The key is that Senate Republicans insist they can successfully block the second bill because it will require 60 votes. Despite the majority’s efforts to use the reconciliation protocol to avoid the 60-vote threshold, Republican leaders say they have parliamentary ways to stop that process.
It will be creative propaganda indeed if the Obama team condemns Republicans for letting Obama’s own plan stay intact!
Liberals will be victims of their own conduct, yet paint conservatives as villains! But blaming others is a basic refrain from the left.
Rather than accepting responsibility, House members can resort once more to “deeming.” This time they will deem the GOP guilty for letting vulnerable Democrats self-destruct (as opinion polls suggest).
But this strategy of blame-shifting is riskier than liberals realize, because the supposed “fix” bill actually would make things worse in multiple ways. Thanks to extreme interest and Internet access, a great many Americans are monitoring the details that politicians typically try to obscure.
In trying to shift blame, the left will spark a focus on the new problems caused by the second bill (too lengthy to enumerate here). Elected officials who try to gloss over the facts should prove no match for big crowds of activists who have studied those details, as was proven by the massive turnouts at last August’s town halls.
Those who voted for a bad bill and try to shift the blame will only throw gasoline on an already inflamed public!
The competing battle cries this fall may be “Repeal it!” on one side and “Let us fix it!” on the other. The voters, though, may simply focus on who took our faulty health care system and voted to make it worse.
Those who support ObamaCare should accept responsibility and quit trying to evade it. Doing otherwise is only raising the anger level, as will be clear in November.
Obama may now try to blame others for the faults in his own plan, but it won’t work with a public paying close attention.
Ernest J. Istook Jr. is a Distinguished Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Istook served 14 years as a U.S. Congressman, then joined Heritage in 2007. He engaged in a wide and robust range of issues in Congress as he served on the House Appropriations Committee and chaired multiple subcommittees. He also served on the Homeland Security Committee.