Free Markets, Free People

The Health Care Presser

I loved a tweet that Jon Henke sent out last night during the Obama health care press conference.  It had me laughing – “Shorter Obama: you’re either with us or against us”.

In reality the press conference was the retelling of the same old nonsense. We’re going to expand the insurance system, require everyone be taken, no pre-existing conditions, no dropping you or denial of service. We’ll pay for it by finding some savings in waste, fraud and abuse, do health care delivery better than anyone else has ever done it, tax the rich and do it all – every bit of it – cheaper than it’s being done now, because we’re the government and we’re the experts in efficiency.

Tell me that wasn’t the crux of the presser?  Anyone left wondering why the majority of Americans are skeptical?

And of course we had the usual canards out there. The claim that preventive medicine is cheaper than medicine as it is being practiced now. Take a moment to read this post by a doctor who lays out the con in minute detail. Here’s another view. Here’s a fact no one seems willing to deal with – the vast majority of all health care costs come in the last 6 months of life.  No one has beaten death yet.  Ergo that fact isn’t going to change unless the entity with the money refuses to pay up.  So while preventive care may extend life, the cost of preventive care is more expensive and the end result remains the same.

As for paying for it,  the whole appeal, of course, was to give the allusion to the middle class that he and the Dems were all for soaking the rich to cover the cost, even talking about how taxing millionaires met his “principle” on that.

But as Mickey Kaus points out, you have to listen carefully:

I don’t want that final one-third of the cost of health care to be completely shouldered on the backs of middle-class families who are already struggling in a difficult economy. And so if I see a proposal that is primarily funded through taxing middle-class families, I’m going to be opposed to that …

Kaus points out that those two words, in “Wash-speak” mean he’s open to a middle-class tax to pay for the “new” and “improved” health care (49% isn’t “primarily”, right?).

And then there’s the dawning understanding around much of the country that this isn’t about reforming health insurance at all (something that might be appealing to most).  It is about a fundamental change in how health care is delivered. As the Republicans have begun saying, it is “experimenting” with your health care.

Can I guarantee that there are going to be no changes in the health-care delivery system? No. The whole point of this is to try to encourage changes that work for the American people and make them healthier. And the government already is making some of these decisions. More importantly, insurance companies right now are making those decisions. And part of what we want to do is to make sure that those decisions are being made by doctors and medical experts based on evidence, based on what works. Because that’s not how it’s working right now. That’s not–that’s not how it’s working right now.

Yes the government is already making some of those decisions. And the unfunded liabilities of the government system threaten to bankrupt us.

But the point remains that peppered all through the statement and answers was the phrase “health care delivery”.  That is one of the things driving down the approval ratings on the legislation.  Its one thing to say, “hey we’re going to eliminate pre-existing conditions, portability issues and denial of service while making sure everyone has insurance”.   It is an entirely different thing to say “we’re going to tinker with and change the way your health care is delivered”.

Now suddenly the government is in territory few want it in.  And that’s the overreach that Obama and the Democrats have committed that is driving the health care legislation approval numbers down.  Which gets us into the politics of this.

Obama said “this isn’t about me”.  But in fact it is all about him and maintaining his credibility.  But his problem, as usual, is he’s outsourced his signature agenda item to Congress.  Peter Wehner discusses the result:

On virtually every important issue — from the stimulus package, to cap-and-trade, to health care, to taxes, and more — Obama is ceding the agenda to the barons on Capitol Hill. And they will lead him over a cliff.

Why this is taking place is hard to know. It may be that Obama and Company are over-learning the lessons of the Clinton and Carter years, when relations with Democrats on the Hill were strained. It may be that Obama doesn’t like to immerse himself in the nitty-gritty of policy and is more comfortable deferring to those who do. It may be that the liberals on the Hill actually reflect what Obama himself — whose record as a legislator was, after all, markedly liberal — favors. It may be that Obama’s lack of experience is now showing through. Or it might be a combination of all four.

Regardless of the cause, the result will be damaging, and maybe even debilitating, to the Obama administration. All the campaign’s promises — about practicing a new brand of politics, finding middle ground, embodying hope and change — seem so old, so dated, and so cynical. Obama is turning out to be Salesman-in-Chief. But what he’s trying to peddle — an unusually liberal agenda and legislation that ranges from ineffective to downright harmful and reflects the desires of leading Congressional Democrats rather than the needs of the country — ain’t selling.

No, it’s not, thus the reason for the presser. As I pointed out yesterday, it is obvious at points he has no idea what is or isn’t in the bill. But what he does have a firm grasp on are his talking points, even if, as the days and weeks go by, they’re shot away or, at best, left hanging tattered and limp.

Speaking of politics, I love the attempt to take on the Republicans as the bad guys (one of the main Democratic talking points for days has been that the Republicans have brought no alternative to the table) and then this:

So, for example, in the HELP committee in the Senate, 160 Republican amendments were adopted into that bill, because they’ve got good ideas to contribute.

I’m not noting this with particular approval, I’m simply noting how this gives lie to the talking point.

To conclude, for anyone who has looked into the issue and followed the debate, such that is has been, Obama’s performance was anything but impressive. It was a mix of tired talking points and a con job – careful rhetoric that implied one thing while really saying something else (the middle-class tax increase being a perfect example).

But that doesn’t mean that some form of health care legislation won’t pass. I think, unfortunately, it will. And that is all about him and politics and he knows it. So do the Democrats. Clinton, Reagan, and GW Bush all passed their signature legislation before the first August recess in their first term. That isn’t going to happen in Barack Obama’s case. But he and the Democrats know that something they can call health care reform must pass or, as Obama is reported to have said, it will destroy his presidency.

To our eternal sorrow the fact that he’s right means the Democrats will do whatever is necessary to pass something to maintain his viability.

~McQ

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13 Responses to The Health Care Presser

  • “Why this is taking place is hard to know. It may be that Obama and Company are over-learning the lessons of the Clinton and Carter years, when relations with Democrats on the Hill were strained. It may be that Obama doesn’t like to immerse himself in the nitty-gritty of policy and is more comfortable deferring to those who do. It may be that the liberals on the Hill actually reflect what Obama himself — whose record as a legislator was, after all, markedly liberal — favors. It may be that Obama’s lack of experience is now showing through. Or it might be a combination of all four.”

    It is taking place because Obama has never led anything or anybody anywhere in his life except in the furtherence of his own position.  I doubt seriously this man could run a lemonade stand and he has clearly shown he cannot run or even lead in the running of the government of the United States. 

    He has one talent, and that is to give nice speeches.  Beyond that, he has yet to show his ability or talent to do anything else – and even that talent has to be done with the crutch of a teleprompter.  I guess he may be more suited to what the British would call a “newsreader” because of his ability to use the teleprompter.  And who among us wants the leader of the free world to be led by a newsreader?

    Silly question.  And the usual suspects will provide the responses to that question soon enough.

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  • But he and the Democrats know that something they can call health care reform must pass or, as Obama is reported to have said, it will destroy his presidency.

    I get the feeling that if this does pass, it will be more destructive to his legacy than if it gets shot down.  But in the short term, if it gets him re-elected, he may not care.

  • Clinton, Reagan, and GW Bush all passed their signature legislation before the first August recess in their first term.

    As did Obama.  As more and more people begin to see there’s no “there there” when it comes to Obama, his agenda continues to stall out as Blue Dogs and other Red State Dems realize their political survival hinges on opposing everything coming from 1600 PA.   That stupid stimulus bill is probably going to end up being his “signature”.

  • You didn’t mention the last question he answered in the press conference about the police/Gates incident in Cambridge. I can’t figure out why he even got into that whole thing. Right now he needs to look like the high-minded leader, not the racial partisan.

    So why did he do it? More street cred with minorities, as if he needs any? Trying to look all-informed? Well, his omniscience has been slipping a bit lately.

    Or maybe just not thinking at all, which is the explanation I prefer, though it flies in the face of all those folks telling us what a world-class intellect this man has.

  • encourage changes that work for the American people and make them healthier
    …and here I thought this was all about the health care system being unsustainable.

  • I didn’t hear a lot of it because I was either laughing derisively or shouting the words “F*ing liar!” a lot of the time.
    Just once I’d like some newspaper guy who no longer loves his job to ask Spam the simple question -”did you read it” – especially since he was selling a “vapor bill” in the press conference.
    I will say  I think he has a job in software sales if this White House thing doesn’t work out for him.

  • Nah. A salesman who doesn’t know the product he is selling doesn’t do too well.

    • But selling vapor ware – or vapor government plan means always having the perfect product!
      What do you want it to do?  Whatever it is you want, THIS does that!  It does it cheaper, faster, better, more efficiently,  with a smaller footprint and leaves you time to catch that afternoon game of golf!  and it’s cheaper!  did I mention cheaper!  Cuz this is CHEAPER!  It will save you money, it’s entirely possible it will iron your shirts and mow your lawn!
      Why bother to learn anything about it when the people you’re selling it to won’t know the difference until it’s too late anyway!  And when the only people they can complain to about the service are the people who are providing the service.  And you can’t fire the salesman that lied to you, you have to wait till his term is up!  And then he’ll retire with full benefits anyway!  And the government that’s responsible for enforcing laws pertaining to the contract is the contract holder!  A salesman’s fantasy.
       

  • I didn’t watch because there was better and more imaginative fiction elsewhere on tv like the new season of Torchwood.  All in all, I came out better.

  • And they have more than enough power and votes to steal every cent of your money for the dubious purposes of “wealth redistribution”.  So why even bother trying to complain, just close your eyes and think of England (because it is the US that is getting f@cked) :)

  • Some how it all is beginning to seem down right unAmerican

  • The President was resoundingly clear, and told us exactly what his vision for America is. He said, clearly, all you white people are racist and you owe us, you doctors are all crooked and don’t deserve to make any more money than the common black bricklayer, and finally, he said, we’re going to do this if ya’ll f**kin’ like it or not and we, the elite, aren’t giving up a damn thing!

    Now, everyone can skirt around the edges all they like, but that’s exactly what the M-effer told everyone, right to their faces last night.  Bill O’reilly and his high dollar Harvard degree may not understand it, but anyone, with even a modicum of street smarts knows exactly what the SOB said. He thinks he owns all our asses.

    His message hasn’t changed one iota since I first heard his campaign stump speeches.

    Brown