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Kristol: It Could Still Go Down

8:52 AM, Dec 22, 2009 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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I've assumed for the last couple of days that the Democrats would succeed in passing the health care bill, and that our job was to make sure it turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory. Now I'm not so sure the legislation can't still be derailed.

Two reasons:

First: the reaction to the deal-making. One friend e-mails, "uncharacteristically, I'm getting calls from relatives who want to talk about all the unseemly deals being cut to get the health bill through...that seems to have hit a nerve, as much as the price-tag." That's my sense too. Now combine the unseemly deals with Reid's pathetic defense of them yesterday. According to Reid, "this legislation is no different than the defense bill we just spent $600 billion on." As Dana Milbank points out in the Washington Post, "That would be the bill with more than 1,700 pet-project earmarks." So when Reid says, "It's no different than other pieces of legislation," he's giving up a lot-health care reform was supposed to be different. It was special, historic, a moral imperative, and so forth. If it's no different, if it's just another piece of cobbled-together legislation, why not kill this mess and start over?

Second: the issue Jim DeMint raised on the floor of the Senate last night. Why did the authors of the legislation want to specially protect the Independent Medicare Advisory Board by making it difficult for future Congresses to legislate in that area? Because the heart of the bill is the attempt to get control of our health care permanently in the hands of federal bureaucrats, who would allegedly know better than doctors and patients what's good for them, and who would cut access to care and the quality of care so there's more money left over for various big government liberal social programs.

As people learn more about the sleazy sweetheart deals and the creepy permanent death panels-this thing could still go down in the House next month in the face of popular outrage.