Obama’s Big Gamble

Connie Hair

By Connie Hair
09/10/2009

If you were expecting something new from President Obama’s speech last night, disappointment abounds.  After over six months of hawking nationalized health care, a day of televised interviews broadcast from the White House on a major broadcast network, prime time news conferences, over two dozen speeches around the country and now an address to a joint session of Congress, is it possible that the President actually thinks the American people don’t understand that Democrats want the government to run our health care system?

The President said last night he supports … the “government option” — he called it a means to an end — and that’s something the American people fully understand, but not in the way he intended.

That’s part of the President’s problem.  He did not overcome his biggest obstacle last night, which is the common sense understanding of the American people.  You cannot give better coverage to those who have insurance, put millions people more into the system, pay for it by ending waste and abuse, claim you will lower health care costs, create a government-run exchange, include government health care coverage and not spend a dime — all at the same time.  That’s a fairy tale.

If it’s that easy, why not first cut the hundreds of billions of dollars a year in waste, fraud and abuse?  Just do it and stop talking about it.  You don’t need a bill for that.

One of the more outrageous claims made by Obama last night, “If you come to me with a serious set of proposals, I will be there to listen.  My door is always open.” (Unnoticed by most of the media, when the President made this absurd remark, several Republican members in the chamber held up the bills they’ve introduced which have been ignored by the White House.)

On May 13, House Republican leaders wrote to the President asking for a meeting to, “… respectfully request a meeting with you to discuss areas for potential common ground on health care reform.”  Nearly four months later, still no meeting.  The President has not met with Republicans since the White House dog and pony show in April.

Yet Obama made this pledge in July:

“When we come back in September, I will be available to answer any question that members of Congress have. If they want to come over to the White House and go over line by line what’s going on, I will be happy to do that.”

House Republicans including RSC Chairman Tom Price (Ga.), Representatives Phil Roe (Tenn.), Michael Burgess (Texas), Bill Cassidy (La.), Jason Chaffetz (Utah), and Steve Scalise (La.) accepted the President’s invitation to go through the bill line by line.  They have been literally ignored.

“It’s interesting that his door is now open, as it’s been repeatedly shut in the face of Republicans for months,” Price told HUMAN EVENTS after the speech.  “If that’s truly the case, we’ll be the first ones to come share our ideas with the President.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking Republican of the Senate Committee on Finance and one of the “Gang of Six,” wasn’t at all happy with what he heard last night.

“There’s support across the political spectrum for initiatives to make health insurance more affordable and accessible, and we know that legislation has to slow the rate of growth in health care costs, or the situation will get worse instead of better,” Grassley said.  “The speech could have been pivotal for bipartisanship if it had been clear-cut in ruling out the prospect of a new government-run plan.  By leaving it up to Congress, where key leaders in both the House and Senate support a government-run plan and control the ultimate outcome, the President passed up a big opportunity.”

What we heard from the President last night was another sales pitch. What we didn’t hear is that he’s listening to the American people.  What we didn’t hear was, “We need to scrap this bill and start over.  I hear you loud and clear:  there will be no public option.”  That’s what the American people want to hear.

“As Yogi Berra said, ‘I feel like this is déjà vu all over again,’” Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the ranking Republican on House Committee on Ways & Means, said of the speech.  “We have a well-delivered speech from the President that sounds good on the surface, but doesn’t match the policy he and the Democrats are putting forward.  Instead of honestly reaching out, the President opted for a political speech in which he criticized those who support health care reform but disagree with his policies and laid out a false choice between his ObamaCare plan and no plan.”

Obama again claimed that the Democrat do not offer coverage for either illegal aliens or abortions in their plans.  Yet Democrats have blocked the addition of specific language through amendments that would explicitly bar this coverage.

The President also lowered claims he made of the number of uninsured:

“There are now more than thirty million American citizens who cannot get coverage.”

Likely because even his own Census Bureau points out in their numbers that over 9 million of the uninsured in this country are “non-citizens.”

And where have we heard this before?

“First, if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have.  Let me repeat this:  nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.”

That sounds strikingly like “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”  This claim has been debunked as “misleading” by such liberal stalwarts as ABC News, NBC News, the Associated Press and the Washington Post.

Nothing in the Democrat’s government-run exchange would require you or your employer to change your insurance coverage, nor will it allow your private insurance plan grow with new technology.  If there were a new cure for cancer, your private plan would not be allowed to cover it.  As H.R. 3200 is written, you would be forced into the government-run plan for coverage.  The bill also outlaws the sale of insurance by private companies by 2013.

The President claimed, “Reducing the waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid will pay for most of this plan.”

According to the Congressional Budget Office report on the cost of H.R. 3200, Schedule F entitled “Waste, Fraud and Abuse,” the CBO estimates that between 2010 and 2019 a whopping 0.1 billion dollars in overpayments would be recouped.  That’s it.

The President claimed, “Every day, 14,000 Americans lose their coverage.  In other words, it can happen to anyone.”

Even if we take that claim at face value, all of the Democrat legislation being considered is so complicated and far-reaching that it would not be enacted until 2013, taking five years to hire all the bureaucrats and put the massive structure into place.  By the President’s own methodology, the Democrat bill will result in an additional 15 million Americans losing their insurance.

And it can best be described a Chicago flashback moment, “If you misrepresent what’s in the plan, we will call you out,” the President said.  What, exactly, is that supposed to mean?  Is that a threat?

As long as the President continues to vilify those who oppose his government takeover of health care, he’s going to lose.  Big time.

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