Editorial: Flake's hopes clash with strict ideologue

"The number of cancellations we saw at the end of the year will be small compared to what is coming."

The above was about a tenth of a quote from U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake during his Jan. 23 interview with the Miner, the topic being the Affordable Care Act. As a Republican, one might think Flake would be chortling at the most or, at the least, look like he's trying to hide a smile. After all, the radioactive crap sandwich that is Obamacare has been nothing but a disaster since before it passed, when Massachusetts voters so desperate to keep it from becoming law in 2010 actually elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate.

All that did is probably make the law worse, if that's possible, by sharply limiting the Democrats' options for refining it.

So, no, as one online commenter stated, the Republicans didn't gut Obamacare and take out all the good stuff. The Republicans didn't have the votes to do that. And no, Obamacare is not a Republican idea, as another online commenter insists. Some Republicans years ago may have thought it was a good idea for the government to force people to buy insurance. But not one Republican voted for Obamacare.

Most Republicans are not going to vote for dozens of new taxes, millions upon millions of canceled health insurance policies, and more expensive new insurance policies - up, on average, $3,671 per family. If you think the economy is sluggish now, wait until the full impact of taking another $300 a month from a family takes hold.

And hey, how about that website that cost over $600 million? Any truth to the talk a lot of that money went to college friends of the first lady, that it was a no-bid contract? The rollout was a disaster, according to numerous sources it's still barely functional, and don't even start to think your information is secure.

But back to Flake, the one who seems more in tune with sympathizing with constituents who have or who will suffer because of Obamacare, rather than thinking about socialist colleagues who might lose their jobs in the Senate because they supported it. Later on in the interview, Flake touched on the possibility of Republican majorities in the House (already Republican now by 234-201) and the Senate (53 Democrats now, 45 Republicans and two others who vote Democrat) this time next year.

As a conservative, I view Flake's vision as being superior to the current arrangement. If you ever needed a lesson in liberalism not working, take a look at what's going on right now. But I also remember the binge spending that took place the last time the GOP owned the Senate, the House and the White House.

What a pathetic performance by alleged conservatives that was. And the general feeling among many that Mitt Romney would be the same kind of Republican is probably why he couldn't beat an incumbent who collected three million fewer votes the second time around, why he couldn't beat a president overseeing a moribund economy made so by his policies.

Flake is hoping that the public will believe this is a different type of Republican, Republicans who can be trusted as the majority party in the House and Senate - at least while a Democrat is in the White House.

Republican majorities and a president who wants a positive legacy, one that might even include steps to assure the long-term solvency of Social Security and Medicare, are what Flake envisions. At the very least, Flake said Obama may want a legacy of leaving office with a robust economy.

I don't doubt that. But has anyone seen any signs that Obama believes his approach is the wrong one? Democrats complain of gridlock binding up the economy, but why would anyone think that Obama's prescription for fiscal health - more government spending, more redistribution - will work now when it failed so miserably before? Three cheers for gridlock!

Flake opines that Obama, when faced with GOP control of the House and Senate, might support a sane energy policy. Flake didn't have time to go into detail about what the energy policy would look like, but it's a safe bet the focus would be on production that would, over time, make energy less expensive. Under Obama, just imagine what gas prices would be now if the oil reserves in North Dakota were on federal land. If the Democrats had kept solid control of both houses over Obama's time in office, would it be far-fetched to think that the Keystone Pipeline would have been shot down years ago and fracking would be illegal?

And speaking of illegal, it's a shame the senator didn't have more time to address his position on illegal immigrants. Legalizing millions of unskilled workers to compete against people born here strikes me as misguided at best. Maybe the senator's staff will send us a position paper on that. Hint.

As for a change of heart by the president, Flake is putting a lot of hope in change. Given Obama's track record, it's a lot of ask for.