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Time is on Our Side

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Dec 09, 2009

Those of us who oppose Federal control of health care—and especially Federal financial support of abortion as part of health care—seem to have time on our side. As the Obama Administration spends more and more money with less and less long term effect, and as unemployment continues at unacceptable levels, the mood of the nation is clearly changing.

That Obama was aware of how little time he was likely to have is evidenced by his determination to rush health care reform through quickly, before another full election cycle can change the complexion of Congress. Obama, at least, was well aware that he had to capitalize on a brief post-election euphoria, because he hoped to move considerably beyond what American public opinion will ordinarily countenance. The truth of this evaluation is becoming more apparent by the day.

Most deeply-committed Catholics would like to see decisions about health care made primarily on moral grounds, and secondarily on grounds of cost, feasibility and efficiency. But it is far more likely that the President’s health care dreams will founder—if they do founder—on the American citizen’s characteristic widespread distrust of government, and particularly of government spending. Consider, for example, the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, in which only 23% of respondents said they trust government “always or most of the time”, the smallest proportion in a dozen years. Even the percentage of voters who think government should “do more to solve problems and meet the needs of people” has dropped 5 points since the Obama campaign subsided, whereas the number of those who think government should leave more things “to businesses” has risen 8 points.

A pollster who helped Bill Clinton in 1994 was quoted in this week’s Time magazine as saying: “What people understand that policy-makers in Washington don’t is that there’s a real belief out there that all government does is waste money. Taxes go up. Debt goes up. People think, ‘All you’re going to do is waste my money and put me in a dire situation.’” And as Americans watched how bailout money was used to prop up Wall Street, they perceived Federal efforts to be based on the policy that “they’re too big to fail and I’m too small to notice.”

Even on health care, for the first time since the current national debate began, the latest Gallup poll shows that more Americans believe it is not government’s responsibility, by a margin of 50 to 47 percent. So although pro-lifers just saw the Senate defeat an amendment to keep abortion out of its health care bill, the clock is ticking. Time is our ally. Stretch this process out long enough, and it will fail.

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