Obama's False Health-Care Economics Consensus

The latest episode of this ongoing series concern comments the president made Tuesday after meeting the Senate Democrats about health care reform:

Now, I just want to repeat this because there's so much misinformation about the cost issue here.  You talk to every health care economist out there and they will tell you that whatever ideas are -- whatever ideas exist in terms of bending the cost curve and starting to reduce costs for families, businesses, and government, those elements are in this bill.

Italics mine. "Every health care economist"? I'm sure interested readers can find plenty of market-oriented health economists who contradict that statement, but my scientific five-second Google News search immediately coughed up a snarling headline that makes the modest effort above this post look positively dessicated: "President Obama Tells Bald-Faced Lie About Health Care Reform Cost Control." The publication? Would you believe the lefty political site FireDogLake? Get out the windshield wipers:

This statement is 100% false–and Obama knows that. This bill does not contain anywhere near most ideas for controlling health care costs. This bill does not even contain most of the cost-reducing ideas that were part of Obama's health care plan during last year's presidential campaign.

What makes his lie so unbelievable is that Obama's administration is right now fighting against one of the biggest cost control ideas that the president previously claimed to support. His administration is working to kill Dorgan's drug re-importation amendment. [...]

Mr. President, If you are going to cut secret deals that will force Americans to spend billions more on their prescription drugs, at least have the decency to not publicly lie about how your "health care reform" bill will do everything it can to reduce costs for American families. You know it is a lie, the PhRMA lobbyists you cut the secret deal with know it is a lie, health care reform experts knows it is a lie, and the American people should know it is a lie.

Must be that Obama Derangement Syndrome I keep hearing so much about....

For calmer discussions on health care policy, click here. For more on Obama's misleading rhetoric, try Jacob Sullum's great column from earlier this week, or Shikha Dalmia's July piece on Obama's five biggest health care lies, or my perhaps desperate claim in September that Obama's lies matter, too.

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  • Old Mexican||

    You talk to every health care economist out there and they will tell you that whatever ideas are -- whatever ideas exist in terms of bending the cost curve and starting to reduce costs for families, businesses, and government, those elements are in this bill.

    C'mon! You're making this up! He didn't really say "healthcare economist"....

    .... did he???

    WTF is a "health care economist"?

  • ||

    yeah he did. I heard him.

  • ||

    Uh, an economist who works on health policy?

    Or are you objecting to the superfluous "care" in the phrase?

  • Joe||

    And what makes them experts? I haven't met a healthcare economist worth a damn when it comes to educating . The healthcare industry has thousands of practicing professionals whose every day jobs involve the quantification of the value of health insurance plans, the estimation of the cost of regulations associated with such plans and the projection of future costs trends. They're called actuaries and they are fairly unanimous in their judgement that Obama and the Democrats' plans will raise healthcare costs above and beyond what they would have been. Don't believe me, go here: http://www.actuary.org/issues/health_reform.asp. These policy statements will explain more about what won't work and why. After you read them you'll see how truly backwards and ill-fated the current proposals are. They go counter to everything we know about how to reduce or control costs.

  • ||

    http://healthcare-economist.com/

    No endorsement, just answering your question.

  • ||

    But to your point, Old Mexican (and by way of digression to the economicrisis), Obama was out there talking up the economists he'd recruited before he was even inaugurated, beating his chest while describing how he heroically recruited "economists from across the political spectrum". This is of course a meaningless thing to say when it's all too easy to find Keynesians across the political spectrum.

    If Obama understood what an economy was--and had any real honest inclination to improve it--he would have been recruiting economists from across the economic spectrum.

    I think the healthcare economists he is describing will probably share a similar homogeneity of thought as his financial statists.

  • Old Mexican||

    BTW there are no cost-cutting provisions in the current bill, nor can there be. Laws do not cut costs - only productivity can cut costs.

  • ||

    I have to enjoy the special moment of reading something like FDL and seeing people rail against Obama. Probably one of the few times I've agreed with most of the comments I've seen there--and for similar reasons!

    But this one comment, Haha, is indicative of the sort of world-straddling dissonance that plagues some of the minds there:

    "At what point will Democrats admit to themselves that they’ve been pwned by a Cortporatist, Free Market zealot?"

    Amusing spelling aside, you have to enjoy such breathtakingly ignorant internal inconsistency. Corporatist? Free market zealotry? Never the twain shall meet. Not even in Obama, lord of all liars.

  • MP||

    I truly enjoyed reading that comment thread. Amazingly, those statists still believe that if only the right people were in charge...

  • ||

    There isn't a damn thing in this crazy world that will ever change that. Anyone who doesn't do what they want is a Corporatist Free-Market Zealot(tm), regardless of whether they are actually corporatist, free-market, or Warren Zevon come back as a ninja samurai zombie werewolf.

  • Ska||

    ahh-ooooohhh ninja-samurai-zombie-werewolves in London.

    aahh-oooohhhh

    Or how about:

    Ninja-samurai-zombie-werewolf-copratist-free-market-zealots, guns and money.

  • ||

    Say what you will, but his hair was perfect.

  • ||

    And he was drinking a Pina Colada at Trader Vics.

  • ||

    I'd like to meet his tailor, obviously.

  • ||

    That goes without saying.

  • ||

    True story: I was walking through the streets of Soho in the rain, and ran into Lee Ho Fuk's. Surreal--I had assumed it was made up.

  • ||

    He'll rip your lungs out Jim!

  • ||

    Werewolves are definitely the coolest of the supernatural beings. Well, besides ringwraiths, I guess.

  • ||

    Werewolves are indeed the coolest, and so was Warren Zevon.

    I write werewolf pr0n. And it sells. Supposedly werewolves are about to overtake vamps as the latest trend in romance/erotica. I really, really hope so. Lawyers and guns I've got. I need money.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Dumb fuck progressives don't know the difference between a corporate mixed economy and a liberal free market.

  • ||

    In some ways I feel for Obama. His political opponents will always paint him as a socialist extremist. That is what political opponents of any stripe do. But his supporters from the left are so dellusional that nothing he does no matter how extreme is ever going to satisfy them.

    It must really suck to have your enemies calling you a marxist and your marxist friends calling you a corporate, free market shill. Any President has to compromise. Yet, these people have convinced themselves that there is no reason to ever compromise about anything and any problem is just the result of being willing to compromise.

  • ||

    "Any President has to compromise."

    Wow. I totally know what you mean and the context you meant it in, but seriously this is an indicator of just how much feature creep has crept into the office of the President.

    The President, insofar as the constitution allows, should execute. That the President has now become a creature so all-encompassing that s/he must compromise with political moods of the general herd is itself symptomatic of a big problem, I think.

  • ||

    The President has a quasi-legislative function due to his Constitution-given veto power. The Founders must have realized that, unless there was overwhelming support for a bill in Congress, the President was going to play a major role in shaping legislation.

  • Mary Stack||

    John,"Any President has to compromise" but I do not think any President is thinking of the American people when he takes this course. The fact is they are beholding to their donors and they are the likes of the drug companies. "That might owe to the fact that in 1999-2000 the drug industry spent $262 million on federal lobbying, campaign contributions and ads for candidates"

  • ||

    I'm sure interested readers can find plenty of market-oriented health economists

    I'm sure there are people working on the economics of healthcare at Cato and other free-market friendly places that fit the bill, but I think that is a generally a very rare breed. I used to RA for a healthcare research center when I was studying economics at grad school, and pretty much everyone I worked with, worked for or even heard of (while being nice people in the most part) were quite fervent lefties.

  • Cling Free||

    Given that Barack Obama is Swahili for "Pathological Liar”, I'm not the least bit surprised.

    On a serious note, does anyone here know the actual meaning of the name Barack Obama?

  • Cling Free||

    "Obama" is a name from the Luo ethnic group of southwestern Kenya, where Barack Obama, Sr. was born. It was originally the given name of Barack Obama's great-grandfather. It is based on the Luo (technically, Dholuo, the name of the language of the Luo) word bam, which means "crooked, slightly bending."

    The prefix O- means "he," and many Luo male names begin with it. Since most traditional Luo names were given by the baby's mother referring to something about the child's birth, the best guess is that when Obama's great-grandfather was born, one of his arms or legs looked slightly bent. However,Email rumors have charged that U.S. President Barack Obama is a practing Muslim, a rumor that has since been proven false. However, President Obama does have an unusual name, which reflects his African Muslim heritage. He was reportedly named after his father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr.
    The president's first name, Barack, is a Swahili name that has its origins in Arabic. The original Arabic root of the name (B-R-K) means "blessed." In Arabic, the root word is used in many other phrases to denote blessings and to describe people who are blessed:

    Mabruk! = "Congratulations!"
    Barakallah feek = "May God bless you"
    Barakah = blessings from God (feminine version of the name)
    Obama's middle name is Hussein, which was his grandfather's first name. The name, of Arabic origin, means "good" or "handsome one." It is common in Muslim cultures for children (both boys and girls) to have a middle name, which directly connects them to their father or grandfather.

    Obama's surname is not uncommon among the Luo tribe, one of the three largest ethnic groups in Kenya. They speak the Dhoulou language.

  • ||

    That seems to boil down to "blessed handsome crooked one," which more or less fits....

  • MNG||

    Yeah right, his parents named him "Big Liar." Doesn't every parent yearn to give their child such a name?

    Man, Obama hate is strong among the chronically retarded...

  • ||

    The "crooked" part is in his last name, which wasn't chosen by his parents. But nice try.

  • ||

    If the rich white left from places like FDL really do go bizerk and trash Obama and he loses in 2012 and ends up a failure as President, what is black America going to think of the rich white left? Obama, love him or hate him, is black America's guy. They feel an incredible attachment to him. The resulting civil war in the Democratic Party from the left turning on Obama is going to be damned entertaining.

  • Jordan||

    Please, regardless of what they say, those hacks would vote for Obusha again in a heartbeat. GO BLUE!!

  • ¢||

    On a serious note, does anyone here know the actual meaning of the name Barack Obama?

    Fake Name That's Totally Not Irish.

  • ||

    I don't think that [consensus] word means what you think it means.

  • ||

    He's trying to kidnap what I've rightfully stolen!

  • MNG||

    Obama has horribly handled health care "reform." He's obssessed now with ramming it through so he can say he "did it" he doesn't see what a terrible bill it is. It seems to be the worst thing I could have thought of them coming up with, and that's saying something as I tend to think that anything that can please enough hundreds and dozens of Congresspersons is going to be a terrible sausage of a law...It's got the worst of federal control, none of the benefits, the worst possible mandate I could think of and the likelihood of increasing costs by a lot. And yet Obama and some of the Dems keep trying to ram it through...It's going to kill the Dems for many a year I predict...

    Obama should have tried lil' reforms like the pre-existing condition and portability stuff or just gone full blown single payer (the latter I think would have been bad but may have at least worked politically for him and the Dems). He did terribly.

    Longtime H&R posters might remember how much I lamented his being chosen as the nominee for the Dems. I've been getting quite a bit of "I told you so" action lately.

  • ||

    Baby steps.

    In reality it will take years to reform heath care no matter what they pass. Any one familiar with the NPI rollout knows what I mean.

  • .||

    Longtime H&R posters might remember how much I lamented his being chosen as the nominee for the Dems.

    That's because you are a racist MNG.

  • MNG||

    I must say I have always been prejudiced against people that are relatively unqualified for the tasks they take on...

  • marlok||

    Bigot

  • ||

    Single payer would have been a political disaster for them. It would not have passed, and it would have given his enemies even more evidence that he is a socialist.

    Look what happened to the public option, which was a cleverly disguised seed of single payer.

    And assuming you voted for him in the general, I don't think you get to say I told you so.

  • Paul||

    Good message MNG. You're pretty reasonable at times, I don't care what everyone says about you.

    Obama should have tried lil' reforms like the pre-existing condition and portability stuff or just gone full blown single payer (the latter I think would have been bad but may have at least worked politically for him and the Dems). He did terribly.

    I'm still brave enough to say that single-payer is still a non-starter in this country. It won't be forever, but today, right now, you're going to run into real opposition to that, especially while all of the other single payer systems around the world are struggling and reforming their own systems to be less single payerish.

    But as far as little reforms, yes, he should have done that way. Even us hard core libertarians know our system needs to be reformed. I just can't believe he couldn't come up with anything that didn't mean more government control over our overly government-controlled system. I mean, for gods sake, he could have just expanded Medicare and he probably would have done better.

  • Joe||

    Pre-existing condition coverage without a strong individual mandate is equivalent to annual 20% renewal increases and the eventual end of the individual insurance market. See, even piece-meal progressive reforms are bound to be hugely destructive. Bottom line: our current health care system is in the shape it is because of government, not due to some imgained market failure.

  • ||

    Seeking no truth
    Winning is all
    Find it so grim
    so true
    so real

  • ||

    Du Du Dnt Da Na Na

  • ||

    Run-Tuh-TUH, Run-Tuh-TUH
    Run-Tuh-fucking-TUH!

  • ||

    the PhRMA lobbyists you cut the secret deal with

    There's your silver lining; at least he's keeping a promise he made to somebody.

  • ||

    I'm not sure Obama believes what he says anymore.

    If he had any stones he would tell Congress, "if you send me this crappy bill I won't sign it."

    But he is still very much the freshman Senator and Congress treats him like it.

  • Paul||

    Nice alt text, btw Matt.

  • MJ||

    "What makes his lie so unbelievable is that Obama's administration is right now fighting against one of the biggest cost control ideas that the president previously claimed to support. His administration is working to kill Dorgan's drug re-importation amendment. [...]"

    Maybe because soemone twigged on to the administration that any savings from there are purely pie-in-the-sky. The drug companies are not going to allow Canada to export en masse the drugs the Canadian government got in a sweetheart deal and undermine pharma's main cost recouping market.

  • ||

    Agreed, there are a lot of good cost-cutting ideas, but drug reimportation isn't one of them. Drug companies can choose who they sell to in foreign countries, limit the amount to what the pharmacies need, and get foreign governments to ban drug exportation in exchange for continuing to get cheap prices. There will be some leakage, but there are plenty of tools in their toolbox.

  • alan||

    What makes his lie so unbelievable is that Obama's administration is right now fighting against one of the biggest cost control ideas that the president previously claimed to support. His administration is working to kill Dorgan's drug re-importation amendment. [...]

    Mr. President, If you are going to cut secret deals that will force Americans to spend billions more on their prescription drugs, at least have the decency to not publicly lie about how your "health care reform" bill will do everything it can to reduce costs for American families.

    That is really amazing when you think about it. When the import of foreign drugs came in like a wave several years back, and the domestic companies were getting their asses handed to them, the Bush Administration and that era's congress realized they had to offer the carrot of adding a prescription benefit with the stick of appeasing those companies if they wanted to mainatain political viabilaty. They turned it into a win/win for themselves and their masters while hiding the cost among the nickels and dimes taken from your paycheck instead of from the livelihoods of the poor smucks in Canuckistan who were paying for the price controls our seniors were benefiting from.

    It shows that Obama and this congress really don't have a clue how to do something that shifty and crafty and actually get away with it.

  • Old Mexican||

    BTW there are no cost-cutting provisions in the current bill, nor can there ever be. Laws do not cut costs - only productivity can cut costs.

    (Disclaimer: This comment was written on a computer running Puppy Linux)

  • Old Mexican||

    For more on Obama's misleading rhetoric, try Jacob Sullum's great column from earlier this week, or Shikha Dalmia's July piece on Obama's five biggest health care lies, or my perhaps desperate claim in September that Obama's lies matter, too.

    Ok, so he's a liar - no need to rub it in...

  • ルイヴィトン バッグ||

    It was always difficult to comprehend how a jury could find the young Pennsylvania men who brutally murdered Luis Ramirez -- a Mexican immigrant and father of two young children -- during the hot summer months of 2008 not guilty. The six young men surrounded Ramirez, shouted racial slurs at him and beat him to death.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Hold on... Obama? Liar?

    Well, come to think of it, he IS a politician... and the higher up the list, the more you have to lie to get there.

  • ||

    Now we are going to be haunted by the expression "bending the cost curve" for at least the next two decades.

  • ||

    I don't think Obama's ever believed what he said. I think Obama has always said what he needed to say at any given moment to whomever he was addressing. I think he's as blank a canvas, as empty a suit, as has ever held public office. I don't think he has any core beliefs, guiding principles, basic philosophy.

    And I don't think he knows he doesn't have any, either. Like Sarkozy said, his egotism is too all-encompassing to admit of any self-awareness.

    Psychologically he's fascinating. In real world terms he scares the bejesus out of me. We've got three more years with this manchild of a cypher at the helm.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Obama simultaneously has no idea what he's doing... and knows EXACTLY what he's doing.

    That's the truly scary part.

  • ||

    California has a crisis of disabled and elderly dying and abused in out of home placements like nursing and group homes. Yet, there are families out here who are WILLING to care for their family members at home, which saves money! It's cost effective! For example, If you go to YOU TUBE and look under kgaccount or type the words: autism seizures… or autism and self injury, you will see an American family was told it would cost the state of california over 23,000 to manage their severely autistic son with complex seizure in an out of home placement, so they keep him home and make the sacrifices needed, all while SAVING the government money by keeping him home. Shouldn't families like this receive at least support without all the red tape? Look people…it’s not hard to figure out…by supporting people in their homes. the government is saving money so why the hell is arnold schwarznegger cutting IHSS services? Do you want severely autistic populations to go back into institutions that cost upwards of one million a year in some of these hard cases? Every American should support the care and protection of severely autistic or disabled or elderly populations in their homes when the family is willing to do it…these families need support. Wake up Democrats and Republicans. You obviously don’t get it. Please try.

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