Paul Jenkins: Begich must be thinking twice about Obamacare

By PAUL JENKINSJune 8, 2013 

Think back to when you really screwed up, when you did not get the blonde's telephone number at the bar or you bought that Yugo convertible or forgot your wedding anniversary. We all have them, those red-face moments when we want to crawl into a deep, dark hole and would give anything -- everything -- for a do-over.

Take Democrat Sen. Mark Begich, for instance. His moment must be his vote for the Affordable Care Act, legislation that has come to plague this nation as Obamacare -- the biggest, most intrusive, most expensive boondoggle in the annals of modern government. It will cost trillions -- for a nation already $16 trillion-plus in the red -- and expand government's reach beyond imagination. Worse, it will be enforced by, heaven forbid, the IRS.

Obamacare is a tornado of new taxes and rules and regulations. It is shunned by a majority of Americans and a nightmare for the medical community.

As a recently repentant liberal yearning for rebirth as a moderate Republican, Begich is evolving, chameleon-like, before our eyes into a sort of everyman, Mark Murkowski, to mine the wealth of Alaska voters in the political middle. But his Obamacare vote -- his one real chance to stand apart from the Left, to be his own man -- is his Achilles heel. GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a true-blue moderate, voted against the monstrosity.

Begich -- seeking to become the first Alaska Democrat re-elected to the Senate since Mike Gravel in 1974 -- is plagued by his decidedly liberal, tax-and-spend past and is trying to outrun it with incessant campaign ads touting his new love of spending cuts, Arctic drilling and guns. It is easy to be a conservative on those issues in Alaska.

What will be difficult is explaining his swoon over President Barack Obama's fiscal narcissism. "Yeah, see, aliens made me do it." In the end, that makes as much sense as anything thing else he might offer.

As next year's election looms and -- unfortunately for Begich -- Obamacare kicks in, Alaskans finally will get it, if they do not already. The scope and breadth and depth of the Obamacare mess will be frightening - chronicled daily by an incessant drumbeat of news stories detailing its myriad catastrophes and how much it will cost the average American family, the soaring insurance costs and its ballooning intrusiveness.

Opponents such as Joe Miller, who has a Bronze Star, or Mead Treadwell, if he decides to run, and anybody else willing to challenge Begich will find ample ammunition in the headlines - and a veritable mother lode elsewhere. Supreme Court votes. The $840 billion economic stimulus package. Increasing taxes on the wealthy. Dodd-Frank. Confirmation of Obama appointees - including Sen. Chuck Hagel as Defense secretary and Sen. John Kerry, as secretary of State.

If that were not enough, there is Begich's tenure as Anchorage mayor. The last-minute deals with city unions as he schlepped out the door on his way to the Senate. The almost unheard-of -- and incredibly generous -- five-year contracts that left the city drowning in red ink. The profligate spending, which jumped an average of $30 million annually. Spending cuts? Get real. The tax cap was shredded and virtually every pot of cash in the city was drained to fuel the spending spree.

With all that, Begich has a tough row to hoe. He must know that because he is angering greenies by supporting the massive Keystone XL pipeline and ticking off the liberal Left by balking at its anti-gun lunacy. But they have nowhere else to turn. He must appeal to the political center, and there is that Obamacare thingy.

There are 133,000 registered Republicans in Alaska, 15,000 Alaskan Independence Party members and 7,200 Libertarians. There are 70,000 Democrats and 257,000 nonpartisans/undeclared. On election day, Republicans have a fat numerical advantage -- and, with heavy turnout, the advantage grows. For Democrats to win -- and they generally take somewhere in the 40 percent range of votes -- they must make serious inroads among nonpartisans.

Next year's general election puts up for grabs the governor's and lieutenant governor's posts, along with Begich's seat and Congressman Don Young's. Turnout is expected to be uber-huge.

None of that is good for Begich. No matter his other history, it all comes back to Obamacare. He must be asking himself: What in the world was I thinking?

Hey, how about a do-over?

Paul Jenkins is editor of the AnchorageDailyPlanet.com.

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