Opposite Day in Washington

We all remember Opposite Day from our childhoods. Once declared, all statements mean the exact opposite of what they normally mean. Though usually reserved for elementary school playgrounds, Opposite Day has been invoked on Capitol Hill. Under the rules, which Democrats are in control of, a Scott Brown win in Massachusetts means that efforts to pass the liberal agenda must be redoubled. The public’s continual repudiation of the Democratic health care experiment now signifies that Congress should speed up their effort to push through misguided reforms. Basically, whatever lessons voters have tried to send over the past three months, Democrats should feel free to ignore. After all, surely the voters don’t mean what they say, it’s Opposite Day!

The problem begins with the leadership. Yesterday Nancy Pelosi responded to the harsh legislative landscape by saying that, “We have to get a bill passed. We know that.” And Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, who has taken a lead role in health care negotiations, has said “No way is it dead, because it’s so important for the country. And we’ll find a way to pass [it].”

The problem has trickled down to pundits. Influential liberal thinker Paul Krugman has taken the lead with a piece entitled Do the Right Thing in which he writes ,

A message to House Democrats: This is your moment of truth. You can do the right thing and pass the Senate health care bill. Or you can look for an easy way out, make excuses and fail the test of history.

After sorting through all of this I am struck by how out of touch every single one of these statements is. Do these people actually believe that the message to take from Massachusetts is anything but “slow down and let’s think this thing through.” There really is no leg for Democrats to stand on. Brown ran a campaign predicated on his intention to go to Washington to vote against the health care plan. His rallying cry became, “I could be the 41st senator that could stop the Obama proposal that’s being pushed right now through Congress.”

And he won. He won in the most liberal state in the union because he stood against Washington at a time when people are fed up with what is going on there. Democrats can dither all they want about what his win truly means, but the fact remains that 56% of polled voters in Massachusetts say that the “health care was the most important factor in their voting decision.”

Despite, and probably in spite, of the results in Massachusetts, many Congressional Democrats have vowed to press on to ensure that some form of health care gets passed. How they will subvert the will of the people is yet to be decided. In the words of Nancy Pelosi, “everything is on the table.” Some are saying that reconciliation, which only requires a bare 51 vote majority, could be used to pass a truncated version of the bill. Other Democrats are calling for a scaled back version which they could pass quickly. But neither option falls in line with what people want.

A poll released today by Gallup shows that the majority of Americans (55%) now favor the idea of Congress’ putting on the brakes in the effort to pass health care reform. As Gallup’s analysis describes the landscape,

“[T]he public is also not convinced that healthcare should be the top priority for the government at this time and endorses finding alternatives that can gain Republican support, which the bill under consideration has not received. Americans may therefore prefer a longer pause on the issue — one that stretches well beyond the time Brown is seated.”

Lest we forget it’s Opposite Day here in Washington. Under the game’s topsy-turvy rules, Paul Krugman writes of America’s desire for a “longer pause” that “the nation is waiting. Stop whining, and do what needs to be done.” What we’re really waiting for is for Democrats to come in off the playground and listen to what we’ve been saying for a long time – start over and do it better.

– Brandon Greife, Political Director, College Republican National Committee