I can't agree with Mr. Schell's contention that Scott Brown's election in Massacusetts reflected voter ambivalence rather than voter anger. The main reason Brown won was that he tapped into a deep vein of revulsion against Obamacare.
Voters detested the sleazy backroom deals that Obama orchestrated despite his pledge that all healthcare negotiations would be covered live on C-SPAN, and they were outraged by his insistence that the Medicare programs that retirees depend on would be cut by $500 billion in order to pay for new entitlements for younger people still earning a living in the workforce. I don't live in Massachusetts, but if I did, that Obama scheme to slash Medicare funding would have been all that was needed to persuade me to vote for Brown. Here's why. If it weren't for very costly heart surgery paid for by Medicare, I wouldn't be alive today.
In short, it's no accident that Brown's 5 percent margin of victory over Coakley exactly matches the 5 percent margin by which voters in Massachusetts and the rest of the country have told polltakers they oppose Obamacare.
As for your suggestion that Obama has been too conciliatory and needs to swerve to the left to save his presidency, you can't be serious. What voters want most today is more jobs, and good private-sector jobs can't be generated by raising taxes or increasing the size and powers of the federal bureaucracy.
As I argued in a Baltimore Sun op-ed last July, the only way to induce employers to put workers back on their payrolls is to enable cash-strapped consumers to buy their products and services by giving families tax rebates averaging about $950 per quarter for at least four quarters. This would cost the government about $400 billion (roughly a third of its individual income tax revenue over those same four quarters), but it would be well worth it. Even if only half the money flowed from consumers' pockets into employers' payrolls, it would still be enough to put 4 million people back to work.
With a twelve-month payoff like that, there's no better investment the government could make.Too bad Obama is too much of an ideologue to realize it.
John D. Hartigan
Chevy Chase, MD
Jan 31 2010 - 1:15am