Political discourse in America contains much in the way of intellect or intellectual honesty. One considers the Federalist Papers with wistful awe: that advocates offered such documents to the public as political arguments astonishes us. Fancy: honest, intellectually respectable political arguments.
And, then, we peruse the latest effort by no less a personage than the President of the United States – Mr. HopeandChange himself – on the subject of health insurance reform and we wonder: how does a man of such obvious intellect offer such self-evidently vacuous, downright dishonest arguments?
Not that Republicans are wholly innocent, but leftists raise demagoguery to an art form. Recall during the Clinton Presidency, when Republicans suggested restraining Medicare’s rate of growth, the Democrats produced a litter of kittens – and a plethora of attack ads. Clinton himself branded the "cuts" as "draconian". Democrats ran as the unapologetic advocates of unlimited growth in Medicare spending.
And, so, when Obama writes about making Medicare "more efficient", and saving hundreds of billions, we should believe him … why?
But the Left never worries overmuch about concepts like honesty, and is constitutionally incapable of shame. (Have you heard a single NJ Dem apologize for their budgetary profligacy these last eight years? ‘Course not! They’re too busy patting themselves on the back for using "federal" money to "cut" the NJ budget that they themselves bloated. Or blaming Whitman. But I digress.)
Since health insurance carriers are only marginally more popular than Congress – apparently, he could locate no Klansman to blame – the President launches a snide – and, of course, dishonest – attack on Health insurers.
Consider: the VA is in hot water for its mistreatment of Vets in Philly. A local vet complains that the VA refuses to treat a condition he attributes to exposure to Agent Orange in Nam. Do these flaws demonstrate the incompetence of governmental agencies (as if such were not obvious)? No more so than the President’s isolated horror stories.
But one strikes a particular absurd chord:
"A man lost his health coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because the insurance company discovered that he had gallstones, which he hadn’t known about when he applied for his policy. Because his treatment was delayed, he died."
Blaming the wrong guy, Mr. President. The carrier, at worst, acted improperly when it denied coverage, but there was lots of time to argue about money later. What physician worth her Oath would permit the possibility of not getting paid to stand between her and her patient? The fault for any delay in treatment rests with the provider, not the carrier.
With "reform", Hizzonor contends, the uninsured will have a choice of affordable coverages. Really? Um, how? And "affordable" to whom? Leftist attempts to provide anything "affordable" enjoy an unbroken record disaster. Consider "affordable" housing: governmental attempts to provide it through Fannie and Freddie deep-sixed the entire economy, destroyed the credit market, and cost the taxpayers at least $400 billion. Mount Laurel housing here in NJ threatens to cost property tax payers $30 billion. MA spending on "affordable" health care is up 70% in three years.
"Affordable", Mr. President? To whom? Not to the taxpayers.
Second (and third): "reform", Obama claims, will cut costs. "We’ll cut hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and inefficiency in federal health programs like Medicare and Medicaid", the President asserts.
Phooey. The political lexicon contains no bigger weasel words than "waste, fraud, and inefficiency". Those "savings" NEVER materialize.
But, this is OBAMA, right? Mr. HopeandChange. A different, post-partisan pol. We can trust him, right?
Well, what’s holding him back? Let him actually save the hundreds of billions, now. Today. Eliminate that waste, fraud and inefficiency. Show us that it can be done. And, when he’s demonstrated that he actually can deliver those savings, THEN we will evaluate the rest of his claims.
Obama’s record, heretofore, bodes ill for his credibility. A pork ridden, hugely wasteful, and patently dishonest "stimulus" bill. A bloated and pork-ridden discretionary spending bill. Inexcusable bailouts of idiotic banks and careless insurers. All to the tune of more than $1 trillion, every nickel of which is borrowed, and much of which violated his express, solemn campaign promises. Why believe him now?
Fourth, Obama promises "consumer protections", to rein in those evil carriers. Insist they insure folks with pre-existing conditions. Don’t let them charge sick folks higher premiums. No "arbitrary cap" on spending.
Wow. Guaranteed issue, community rating, unlimited coverage. Those have been such wonderful successes here in NJ. Locally, a family policy in the individual market costs $20K or so. So, we’ll take that show national, and make EVERYONE’S policy cost $20K. Hey, surprise!! Suddenly, faced with a $20+K premium, everyone’s opting for the taxpayer-subsidized "public option"; who could have guessed?
The President concludes:
"This is what reform is about. If you don’t have health insurance, you will finally have quality, affordable options once we pass reform. If you have health insurance, we will make sure that no insurance company or government bureaucrat gets between you and the care you need. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. You will not be waiting in any lines. This is not about putting the government in charge of your health insurance. I don’t believe anyone should be in charge of your health care decisions but you and your doctor — not government bureaucrats, not insurance companies."
With all due respect: baloney.
This is the Hogwarts school of public policy; wave a magic wand, and everyone will get absolutely all the care they want or need, at low cost. This statement is not only dishonest, it’s silly. There is simply no way to cover everything for everyone without bankruptcy. It has never happened anywhere in the world. Every governmental system, without exception, explicitly rations through politics. No honest, serious advocate, could write that paragraph. One concludes, then, that the President is neither.
Let’s be clear: health care will NEVER be inexpensive; nothing worth having in life ever is. It can be made less expensive, by introducing freedom and competition into the process. Encourage HSAs; eliminate coverage mandates (Loretta Weinburg, please call your office); permit interstate competition among carriers; reform tax policy to divorce coverage from employment. These are among dozens of freedom-based reforms which would actually work to bring down costs. No governmental program ever reduced the cost of anything.
NJ, MA, and CA teach us that Obamaism is the road to bankruptcy. He’s proposing nothing that McGreevey/Corzine, Gray Davis, and Deval Patrick haven’t already tried. And they’ve failed, miserably and expensively. NJ may be a tax hell, but, by gum, it funds Corzine’s "priorities". As a result, NJ produces nothing for export but refugees. It’s only growth industry is government.
If we, as a nation, follow the path blazed by leftists in NJ, MA, and CA, why would anyone believe the results will be any different? Adopt NJ-style economic policies nationally and NJ-style economic stagnation will become the national norm. Only now, you won’t be able to escape by hopping over the Delaware.