Now that Obama's speech is over, it's the proper time to yell out "You lie" as we point out the distortions, deceptions, and misrepresentations in his latest in a long series of speeches on health care.
Obama repeated his assertion that his plan will allow you to keep your existing insurance and doctor, but threw in a subtle twist: "If you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or the V.A., 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." In earlier speeches he said "If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period." While his new statement is technically correct, it is very misleading. The Congressional Budget Office said that by 2016, Obamacare would lead to employers dropping coverage for roughly 3 million people. So while "nothing in the plan will require" you to change coverage, losing coverage will be a direct result of Obamacare for millions of Americans.
As I pointed out earlier, his statement that illegal immigrants will not receive benefits is untrue. But another fib is that tax money will not go to fund abortions. He skirts around that one by saying that tax money goes to fund insurance, and insurance pays for the abortions, but the fact that the money passes through a middleman doesn't change the fact that your money will be used to pay for babies being chopped up and flushed down a garbage disposal. Instead of these obvious lies, why can't the President just be honest here, and say "We are going to ask you to pay for some things you may not agree with, including medical care for illegal immigrants and abortions" and then explain why he considers that to be necessary?
Obama also repeated his pledge that "I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits either now or in the future. Period." For anyone who believes this, I've got some oceanfront property in Phoenix to sell you. Historically, big medical entitlement programs cost at least five times more than projected. This one will be no different.
Obama also reiterated his soundly debunked claim that he will make Obamacare deficit-neutral partially by using preventive care to reduce costs.
"And insurance companies will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies. Because there's no reason we shouldn't be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse. That makes sense. It saves money, and it saves lives." It makes sense and saves lives, but it does not save money. Two out of three is not bad. In an August report, The Congressional Budget Office found that: "The evidence suggests that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall." Preventive care is a good policy, but we can't count on it to reduce costs to pay for his entitlement spending.
Obama resorts to his classic strawman tactic of misrepresenting the opposition's position: "On the right, there are those who argue that we should end employer-based systems and leave individuals to buy health insurance on their own." There may be some person somewhere who supports that idea, but it is not anywhere close to a mainstream conservative position. Later in the speech he brushed aside the claim that, "We plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens." There has been some overstated rhetoric on this topic, but behind that rhetoric is a genuine concern that Obamacare will result in rationing of care, and that the dramatic cuts in Medicare will result in seniors being disproportionately denied care. Obama confirmed this concern when he suggested that an elderly lady who needed a pacemaker would instead be given a pain pill under Obamacare. His reinstitution of "The Death Book" in VA hospitals further reinforces the concern that budget pressures will cause the government to look for ways to save money by encouraging old people to die quickly and inexpensively. Obama refuses to address the real issue and instead simply marginalizes the critics. Towards the end of the speech he said "I won't stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are." No one wants to keep things exactly the way they are. This failure to acknowledge the true objections of the majority of Americans reinforces the perception that Obama and the Democrats responded to the outpouring of opposition to Obamacare by willfully placing their fingers in their ears and yelling "La la la la la! I can't hear you!"
In his discussion of the "Insurance Exchange", Obama said that "As one big group, these customers will have greater leverage to bargain with the insurance companies for better prices and quality coverage. This is how large companies and government employees get affordable insurance. It's how everyone in this Congress gets affordable insurance. And it's time to give every American the same opportunity that we give ourselves." This is a deceptive attempt to deal with the objection that Congress exempted itself from Obamacare by giving the impression that Obama is extending to the unwashed masses the same coverage that Congress currently enjoys. Don't be fooled -- Obamacare won't be anything like Congresscritter Care. Your Senator will not be stuck in the same waiting list with you, waiting for rationed care.
And the old worn-out automobile insurance analogy, which has been refuted so many times that you have to conclude that Obama is intentionally distorting the facts: "That's why under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance -- just as most states require you to carry auto insurance." Most states don't require you to carry auto insurance. In nearly every state you can opt to self insure, meaning that you are responsible to pay for any damage you cause. Therefore, using auto insurance as a precedent to argue for mandates against self insuring is nonsensical.
Obama's discussion of the public option included a major shift in how it was presented, attempting to minimize the scope and importance of that portion of the legislation. He claimed that less than five percent of Americans would sign up for the public option, and that no one would be forced to choose it. This is not true of any of the bills currently in Congress. Although there are now so many bills that you can't possibly keep them all straight, the primary House and Senate bills both require that large employers offer the public option or face heavy penalties, and they require doctors to enroll uninsured patients in the public option before treating them.
Obama also denies that the public option would be subsidized by tax money: "I've insisted that, like any private insurance company, the public insurance option would have to be self-sufficient and rely on the premiums its collects." This is far from the truth in any bill we have seen. The public option will be subsidized to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.
Obama repeats the claim that the public option will save money through increased efficiency and reduction of waste: "But by avoiding some of the overhead that gets eaten up at private companies by profits and excessive administrative costs and executive salaries, it could provide a good deal for consumers." Who has ever heard of a government entitlement program which was not bogged down by excessive administration, waste, fraud, and bureaucracy? In its heyday, Welfare spent $1.11 in administrative overhead for every $1 they paid out in benefits. The bureaucrats got more taxpayer money than the Welfare recipients. Obamacare will not be run more efficiently than private companies which face constant pressure to reduce costs.
Another mindboggling assertion: "I will make sure that no government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need."
He made the following promise: "I will not sign it if it adds one dime to the deficit now or in the future. Period. And to prove that I'm serious, there will be a provision in this plan that requires us to come forward with more spending cuts if the savings we promise don't materialize." This kind of provision has been included in other bills, and Congress routinely ignores them. A promise of unspecified future spending cuts isn't worth the paper it is printed on.
In trying to reassure seniors that Medicare cuts would not impact their coverage, Obama said, "That is why not a dollar of the Medicare trust fund will be used to pay for this plan. The only thing this plan would eliminate is the hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud, as well as unwarranted subsidies in Medicare that go to insurance companies." The first claim is cleverly phrased to deceive without being technically untrue. There is very little money in the Medicare trust fund, which operates on a pay-as-you-go basis. However, Medicare money would be diverted from the budget to pay for Obamacare. And if we can save hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud, why have we not already done so?
Obama mentioned medical malpractice reform, but carefully avoided committing to anything specific: "I'm proposing that we move forward on a range of ideas about how to put patient safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine." If anyone has a clue about what that means, let me know. Defensive medicine is only half of the equation in reducing unnecessary malpractice costs. Tort reform is the other half, and he carefully avoided mentioning that in the presence of all his trial lawyer friends.
Obama repeatedly accuses his opponents of demagoguery, distortion, and fearmongering, but wraps up his message by saying, "Everyone in this room knows what will happen if we do nothing. Our deficit will grow. More families will go bankrupt. More businesses will close. More Americans will lose their coverage when they are sick and need it the most. And more will die as a result." Talk about demagoguery, distortion, and fearmongering.
Obama said that "If you misrepresent what's in this plan, we will call you out." Perhaps he should start with himself.