Morgen on June 24, 2009 at 1:54 pm
Thanks to the coordinated efforts of ABC News and the White House, today is the day that millions of Americans will be introduced for the the first time to key details of the President’s agenda for healthcare reform. And if the interview segment aired this morning on Good Morning America is any indication, they are going to be grossly misinformed about two very important points underlying the debate. (The full video from GMA is about 6 minutes long…the portions I will be highlighting start at the 2:00 minute point and end at about 4:30.)
LIE #1: Opponents of the President’s health reform plan are advocating that we “do nothing”.
In response to a question from Diane Sawyer about dealing with the escalating costs of his health reform plan, the President says “in this debate the burden should be on those who say we do nothing”. This is an oft-repeated refrain from the President, and one of the most rudimentary techniques of distraction in any debate – the “straw man” argument.
No one – and I mean no one – of any significance or relevance is arguing that we “do nothing” in regards to healthcare reform. Not the Republican leadership in the House or Senate, not outside conservative leadership (e.g. Newt Gingrich or The Heritage Foundation) – NO ONE. The truth of the matter is that there is very broad-based agreement on the two principles that supposedly underly the President’s agenda: (1) reducing the growth rate of spending within the healthcare system, and (2) expanding coverage amongst the uninsured with the goal of ultimately having universal coverage.
These are important principles which could form the basis of a truly bipartisan effort within Congress to enact much-needed reform. As a matter of fact, a significant amount of effort has already been expended in this regard, best represented by Senator Wyden’s healthcare proposal and the recently published plan by Tom Daschle and Bob Dole. I am not suggesting that either of these is the ideal solution, but they clearly demonstrate that a true bipartisan solution is possible.
The simple truth of the matter is that for the President and other liberal proponents of health reform it’s all about one thing – the public plan. Which brings us to the second big lie:
LIE #2: The Public Plan is intended only to provide greater choice and competition in the market.
Exposing this lie of course has been a central focus for us here at VS. The public plan is the central plank of the liberal health reform agenda for one simple reason: it’s the “thin edge of single payer wedge” as aptly put this week by Ezra Klein of the Washington Post. It is frankly the only reason why many liberals in Congress are supporting the President’s plan rather than pushing for single-payer outright. Because the worst possible outcome imaginable for liberals is for insurance companies to be the beneficiaries of any expansion in coverage. Especially given that the legislation will likely include massive subsidies for low income earners to obtain insurance.
The President all but admitted this at his press conference yesterday in saying that the public plan is “an important tool to discipline insurance companies”. Yes, discipline. As in punish. Let there be no doubt about this. While it’s still unclear if the President will sign-off on a bill that does not include a public plan, it is certain that there will be wide-spread liberal opposition to any plan that does not include it.
Fortunately, the President has also started tripping over his own promises, further exposing the deceit inherent in his arguments for the public plan. One of his ongoing talking points has been that under his plan if you like your current insurance plan, you can keep it. Nothing will change. But independent analysts have verified – and the President has acknowledged – that many employers will drop their employee health benefits if an inexpensive plan is available through the government. Meaning that for those employees effected, they won’t have the option of keeping their current plan, whether they like it or not.
Jake Tapper from ABC called Obama out on this yesterday, and Diane Sawyer questioned the President on this as well in the clip linked above (starting @ 3:23). Not surprisingly, they let him off the hook too easily. His response essentially being that the government will not “force” people to change their plans, and he can’t help it if employers change or drop their existing plans. This is all well and good except for the fact that the legislation would be DIRECTLY CAUSING employers to drop their coverage. C’mon ABC – you can do better than this! Can’t you? (A rhetorical question, I fear).