President Barack Obama isn’t the only politician who falsely promised that Americans could keep their health insurance under Obamacare.
Illinois’ very own Dick Durbin, the second most powerful Democrat in the U.S. Senate, adamantly and without qualification made the same promise in 2009 when the Affordable Care Act was being debated in the Senate.
“Many people say: I like my health insurance right now. I don’t want to change. I don’t want to go into Medicare or Medicaid. I like what I have. Would you please leave people alone.
“The answer is yes. In fact, we guarantee it. We are going to put in any legislation considered by the House and Senate the protection of you, as an individual, to keep the health insurance you have, if that is what you want. What we are trying to create are voluntary choices and opportunities.”
As even the reliably and blindly partisan Durbin must have noticed, millions of Americans have lost individual policies that failed to meet the quixotic standards of Obamacare.
So, I asked his office: Knowing what he knows now about Obamacare’s problems, might Durbin have changed his mind and voted against it? Or might he have considered some changes?
How could he, Obama and other Democrats who voted for Obamacare have made such a stupid and obviously fanciful promise? Did they actually believe it — despite the objections of realists who said the Rube Goldberg contraption could never work, and who, for their honesty, courage and perceptiveness, were trashed as heartless louts and right-wing extremists?
Did they actually believe that an untested and unprecedented remake of one-sixth of the American economy as concocted in faculty offices and progressive salons would work simply because their liberal political dogma said it would?
Did they know that it wouldn’t work but lied for political purposes?
Or did they actually not know because they — in the famous words of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — had to pass the law to find out what’s in it? Never mind that Durbin also promised in the same speech that the passage of Obamacare “is not going to be done in haste because it is too important. It is going to be there, and the critics will have a chance to look at it, people will be able to come up with suggestions — constructive suggestions, I hope — that will lead us to the passage of health care reform in this country.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently told the Senate that Obamacare couldn’t be delayed because doing so “wouldn’t delay people’s cancer, or diabetes or Parkinson’s … mental health services or cholesterol screenings or prenatal care.” Remember how we were told that almost 2 million Illinoisans were deprived of health insurance and how they’d rush to get it if we’d only pass Obamacare?
In the first month of Obamacare, only 1,370 people selected an insurance plan in Illinois through the exchange. So, where are those hundreds of thousands who desperately need health insurance, who couldn’t wait a moment longer because they are dying?
The truth is millions of Americans have received health insurance cancellation notices and now face an uncertain future because of Obamacare. Creating havoc in so many Americans’ lives is why even some Obamacare supporters are jumping ship. Of the 39 Democrats that last week voted to allow Americans to keep their individual policies through 2014, five were from Illinois districts: Tammy Duckworth, Brad Schneider, Bill Foster, William Enyart and Cheri Bustos. They had little choice but to break party ranks because Obamacare was about to knife their political careers in the 2014 elections. (All other Illinois Democrats voted to keep the mandate, except for Bobby Rush, who is on a leave of absence because his wife, Carolyn, is ill.)
Obamacare, probably the worst domestic program ever rammed down Americans’ throats by Democrats, ought to be the No. 1 issue in next year’s congressional elections.
Durbin is up for re-election then. Perhaps he thinks he is untouchable. He might not care that the pie-in-the-sky “reform” that he so enthusiastically and blindly pumped is a bust. He might believe that in navy blue Illinois, voters are too compliant to vote for anyone else. He might be right.
This column also appeared in the Chicago Tribune
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