Better Late than Never?
By John D. Turner
7 Dec 2014

Note: The title says it all – in more ways than one. I originally penned this back at the end of November, and, due to one thing or another, it has taken me this long to post it. So – better late than never, I guess…

New York Democrat Chuck Schumer now thinks that passing Obamacare in 2010 was a mistake. He may be on to something. After losing the House and almost losing the Senate in the 2010 debacle and then finally losing the Senate too in 2014, some Democrats are sitting back, scratching their heads, and wondering what happened. Seems like after you hit them upside the head with a two by four several times, some folks are able to pick up on the fact that perhaps a mistake was made. Others, like Nancy Pelosi, didn’t get it in 2010 still don’t get it today.

Obamacare, aka the Affordable Healthcare Act, has been a contentious piece of legislation from the start. Written by Democrats with no Republican participation, passed kicking and screaming in the middle of the night with 219 Democrat and 0 Republican votes in the House, 60 Democrat and 0 Republican votes in the Senate, and plagued by broken promises, broken government websites, and now the revelation that it was made deliberately obtuse to fool the American public into passing it in the first place, the law seems to benefit a few at great cost to the many. Indeed, it was apparently designed that way from the start, as Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of the bill said in a panel event last year.

With all the wisdom of hindsight, and the shellacking the Democrats took at the polls in 2010 and 2014, Schumer now says that the Democrats “acted wrongly in using their new mandate after the 2008 election to focus on the issue [Obamacare] rather than the economy at the height of a terrible recession.” Ya think?

Not that he thinks the health care law itself is a mistake; just that, in hindsight, they should have worked on fixing the economy first, and done Obamacare later. Schumer hasn’t overnight become an anti-big government conservative, as witnessed by an article in the Weekly Standard reporting on Schumer’s trip to the National Press Club in Washington D. C. where he told Democrats that they need to “embrace big government.” As he puts it, “we must convince the middle class that the only way out of their morass is by embracing a strong and effective government, not demeaning it or running from it.”

For those on the left, problems with the government’s involvement in things is never because there is too much government involvement, but rather, because there is as yet not enough. So, just in time for Thanksgiving, the Obama administration kicked off its latest round of ensuring that you the citizen are well taken care of by the federal government.

Following the loss of both Houses of Congress, and knowing that he is unlikely to get any of his pet legislation passed, the President released 3,415 new federal regulations which, coupled with his pen and executive orders, will be his means of governing the nation for the next two years in the absence, as far as he is concerned, of Congress. As usual, this was done at a time when most of America was totally oblivious to what happened until well after it occurred. Like bills that we must pass before we can find out what is in them, this package of regulations promises to be another Christmas present that will keep on giving us surprises for months and years to come.

Looks like not just Democrats, but all Americans will have to learn to “embrace big government” whether we want to or not. How long will it take to undo what this president has done in his eight years in office? Can even a fraction of it be undone? Past history says no; once government rules, regulations, bureaucracies, and agencies have been put into place, it takes an Act of Congress to remove them, and lately it seems Congress is extremely reluctant to act.

It only took 108 years for the Feds to finally, back in 2006, abolish the telephone excise tax on long-distance calls that was put into place to help finance the Spanish-American war. Back in 1935 the Rural Electrification Agency was created to oversee installation of electrical distribution systems to serve rural areas in the United States. Today over 99% of Americans have access to electricity and yet the Rural Utilities Service, successor to the Rural Electrification Agency, is still around. We change the names but, once created, federal agencies seldom disappear.

Obamacare is unlikely to be different. Despite Republican rhetoric in the months up to the election about “defunding” the legislation, it now looks like most haven’t the stomach for it after all. They might tinker around the fringes a bit, but when push comes to shove, you will hear them bleat about how any legislation they may pass to that effect will simply be vetoed by the President, and use that as a rallying cry in the 2016 elections to elect the Republican candidate in order to do away with Obamacare “once and for all,” or failing that, to give them veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate.

In the end, many Republicans have no problem with big government either; they just want to have their party in power to administer it instead of the Democrats.

So here we are in November 2014. We have been promised since 2008 that economic recovery is “just around the corner.” “Green shoots” have been observed so many times now that you would think it was spring. The stock market is at record highs. Unemployment has fallen to 5.8 percent, a six-year low. I have personally noticed more people in my local Barnes and Noble, and it seems like the stores have more people in them than they did at this time last year, so perhaps things have turned around.

Gas is cheaper than I have seen in years - $2.41/gal at our local HEB. This, however, is primarily due to the increases in US oil production that have occurred due to the new fracking and horizontal drilling technologies, and to OPECs attempt to drive down the price of oil to stifle these technologies in the crib, and not to anything positive the Obama administration has done. Indeed, if the Obama administration had its way, US oil production would be dropping and the price of gas would be increasing instead.

This is all good news. On the other hand, the Labor force participation rate is only 62.8% - slightly up from last month, but still abysmally low. And, thanks to President Obama’s recent executive order on illegal immigration, we can expect a new influx of “undocumented workers” into the country as well; workers who will either take jobs, go on government assistance, or find their way back from whence they came. If the economy is producing enough jobs for Americans out of work and these newcomers as well, great! If not, every job they take is one that an American will not have, whether or not it was a job that he or she was “unwilling” to do.

So are things getting better? We shall have to wait and see what the new year brings to know for sure.

Meanwhile, perhaps Republicans should take Mr. Schumer’s musings to heart. What he is really saying is that perhaps Democrats should have listened to what the American people said they wanted them to do when they took office, and done that, rather than immediately haring off on their own agenda of things that they had been wanting to do for decades and now had the power to do, but which the American people at that time had no interest in. It is always easier to accomplish that which you want to do with the wind of public opinion at your back than it is to buck a headwind of public opinion that really wants you to be doing something else. You might get your way, but in the long run it is likely to cost you.

Now that Republicans have solid majorities in both houses, perhaps they too, should take a moment to listen to the folks that put them there in the first place. Particularly as most have as little love for Republicans as they do Democrats and are just looking for someone to do what they want them to do for a change, and are just as likely to pitch them out in the next election if they fail to do so.

Senator Schumer may have gotten it right this time. After all, even a broken clock is right twice a day.