News & Criticism

Obama's Lies Matter, Too

The president pushes back against health care misinformation, then spreads a bunch of his own.

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On Wednesday night a broad chunk of the American left, and an overlapping circle of media commentators, got what they'd been aching for since the beginning of August: A presidential bitch-slap of the lying liars who've been, in the words of stereotypical L.A. Times columnist Tim Rutten, "crowding out nearly all substantive and realistic discussion of the critical issues surrounding healthcare reform."

"But know this," President Barack Obama said in one of several such satisfying passages in his health care speech last night. "I will not stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are. If you misrepresent what's in the plan, we will call you out."

Salon Editor in Chief Joan Walsh could barely contain herself at this nearly Snoop Doggesque display. "'We will call you out' on lies," she Tweeted. "love it!"

It is telling that so many people who claim to be speaking on the side of Truth, Justice, and the American Way of Journalism have consistently focused their outrage-o-meters at individual townhall attendees, political broadcast entertainers, and the lesser lights of a lame (if resurgent-by-default) opposition party, while letting walk nearly fact-check-free the non-irrelevant occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. If calling out lies and misrepresentations about a significant policy proposal is such pressing journalistic business—and it should be!—you'd think the watchdogs might start with the guy doing the proposing.

The lies last night began in Obama's opening paragraph. "When I spoke here last winter," he began, "credit was frozen. And our financial system was on the verge of collapse." In fact, Obama spoke on Feb. 24, at least six weeks after credit markets began to thaw, and one week after he proclaimed that the passage of his $787 billion stimulus marked "the beginning of the end, the beginning of what we need to do to create jobs for Americans." Obama's speech that day wasn't about staving off a collapse, it was about cleaning up the mess and tackling long-ignored issues. Such as health care.

It's never encouraging when a politician who desperately needs to convince skeptical Americans of his fiscal sobriety starts off by slurring his words. As you might then infer, Obama was just warming up. "Insurance companies," the president announced, "will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies," in part because such prevention "saves money." Looks like someone forgot to tell the Congressional Budget Office, or other non-White House sources that have analyzed the cost-benefit of prevention.

Again and again last night, the president's numbers didn't add up. "There may be those—particularly the young and healthy—who still want to take the risk and go without coverage," he warned, in a passage defending compulsory insurance. "The problem is, such irresponsible behavior costs all the rest of us money. If there are affordable options and people still don't sign up for health insurance, it means we pay for those people's expensive emergency room visits." No, it means that, on balance, the healthy young don't pay for the unhealthy old. The whole point of forcing vigorous youth to buy insurance is using their cash and good actuarials to bring down the costs of covering the less fortunate.

Such fudges reveal a politician who, for whatever reason, feels like he can't be honest about the real-world costs of expanding health care. "Add it all up, and the plan I'm proposing will cost around $900 billion over ten years," he said, trying hard to sound like those numbers weren't pulled out of Joe Biden's pants, and won't be dwarfed by actual costs within a year or two. "We've estimated that most of this plan can be paid for by finding savings within the existing health care system–a system that is currently full of waste and abuse," he said, making him at least the eighth consecutive president to vaguely promise cutting Medicare "waste" (a promise, it should be added, that could theoretically be fulfilled without drastically overhauling the health care system). Any government-run "public option," he claimed, somehow "won't be" subsidized by taxpayers, but instead would "be self-sufficient and rely on the premiums it collects."

And in a critical, tic-riddled passage that many of even his most ardent supporters probably don't believe, Obama said: "Here's what you need to know. First, I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits–either now or in the future. Period." In case you couldn't quite read his lips, the president repeated the line for emphasis. Then: "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 promised don't materialize." 

If that "one dime" formulation sounds familiar, that's because Obama made—then almost immediately broke—the same promise regarding taxes on Americans earning less than $250,000 a year. Surely the no-new-deficits pledge is headed for the campaign dustbin faster even then that "net spending cut" we'll never see.

Such bending of the truth-curve matters, I daresay even more than the pressing issue of Marc Ambinder's "umpiric objections" to having the media take a former Republican vice presidential candidate seriously as a health policy commentator. Aside from the disturbing—if-predictable aspect of a commander in chief falling far short of telling the whole truth, there are practical impacts of presidential prevarications that should worry even those who'd rather live in China than in an America without universal coverage.

As the reform supporter and professional skeptic Mickey Kaus noted before the speech, "Obama doesn't need to get 'Republicans on board.' He doesn't need to get Blue Dog Democrats on board. He needs to get voters on board." And if there's any tactic less effective at wooing skeptics than number-fudging insincerity, it's number-fudging insincerity coupled with attacks on the veracity, motivation, and worldview of the skeptics themselves. 

Again last night, Obama invoked the boogeyman of "special interests" who "lie" in order "to keep things exactly the way they are," despite the fact that the special interests in this case are lining up to support the president, and that the critics of his plan tend to bemoan, not defend, the status quo. Opponents of his plan, he said, were "ideological"; Ted Kennedy's support for health care reform, meanwhile, "was born not of some rigid ideology, but of his own experience." Obama said his door was "always open" to those bringing "a serious set of proposals," and he slammed that door shut on any attempts to break the almost universally unloved link between employment and insurance. He yearned to "replace acrimony with civility," then got Democrats stomping on their feet with attacks against the Iraq War and "tax breaks for the wealthy." The center of the debate, as always, was wherever he chose to stand.

And above all else, Obama chose to shadowbox against the more extreme claims of the Sarah Palins of the world, rather than engage the most serious of the skeptics' arguments. No, the administration doesn't "plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens," but what about the possibility of government cost-cutters frowning upon expensive hip replacement surgeries for the chronically old? No, the proposal doesn't amount to a complete "government takeover" of health care, but it does continue to expand the government's role (and, promises aside, expenses) in ways that make a deficit-whiplashed nation nervous. No, "no one would be forced to choose" a public option, but what about the argument that incentives would eventually push Americans from private insurance to the public plan?

The result of this challenge-dodging counterpunch was a speech that pleased Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, but I doubt will sway the many Americans who are both on the fence and off Sarah Palin's e-mail list.

There was one line in the speech last night that pointed to an alternative, more promising future: "My guiding principle," Obama said, "is, and always has been, that consumers do better when there is choice and competition." Unfortunately, the president evinces zero understanding of how increased regulation can reduce consumer choice, even or especially when the government joins the competition. And even if he did see the connection, we'd have good reason to suspect that he wouldn't talk about it openly with the American people. That, ultimately, worries me more than a senior citizen who wants to keep the government out of Medicare.

Matt Welch is editor in chief of
Reason magazine.

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  1. On one side, we have Spite Right hypocrites who cheer Wilson’s disrespect (after eight years of Dubya worship), and on the other we have a president who wants to forget the past so that we are condemned to repeat it.

    Well, that’s why we’re fighting for a libertarian alternative!

  2. Obama said: “Here’s what you need to know. First, I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits-either now or in the future. Period.”

    Tax increase then?

  3. Bonus points for using a 4$ word found in the Declaration in a sentence.
    DRINK!

  4. Here’s what you need to know. First, I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits-either now or in the future. Period.

    “Read my lips. No new deficits.” would be more succinct.

  5. So, in other words, Joe Wilson was completely justified in his outburst? I’m shocked.

    Let me preempt some of the usual suspects. Matt is, as always, just shilling for the GOP because we all know pointing out the bullshit the DNC spews means you’re automatically in favor of the bullshit the RNC spews. Right?

    I’ll go back to shilling for big business and kicking puppies now.

  6. It is the case that Obama’s supporters are all a twitter about the speech. Just like Bush’s supporters were about his speeches. I say this as someone who rarely if ever watches these things.

    The best way to avoid the influence of politicians on your intellect is to ignore their speeches. Why? Because they are generally content free and are largely meant to persuade by emotion and not reason.

  7. Great piece, Matt.

  8. Opponents of his plan, he said, were “ideological”; Ted Kennedy’s support for health care reform, meanwhile, “was born not of some rigid ideology, but of his own experience.”

    Great. It’s not bad enough that a Senator would favor legislation affecting millions based on what happened to himself in one particular case (rather than on some sort of, you know, principles), now this is being held up as an approach that should be emulated.

  9. Public health care will work out about as well as public housing, public schools, and public transportation.

  10. Actually all the ringwing blogs state that Wilson was wrong and are glad he apologized.

    Now some do point out how Bush was booed in his State of the Union and called much worse by the leads of the democratic party back in 2005. Also, how the Iraqi shoe thrower was idolized by the left and media.

    Hey T, you didn’t actually dispute anything Matt wrote. Just complained. Do you have any real points to make.

  11. Articles like this are what drew me to Reason in the first place. It’s practically bleeding orange with links to sources. It’s what I like to call a well-supported opinion piece. Excellent work once again, Mr. Welch.

  12. Kevin, are you saying it’s… reasonable?

    (And does that mean we get to drink?)

  13. Obamessiah is technically telling the truth here – “not one dime added to the deficit.” It will be billions of dimes, not one.

    Wouldn’t it be cool if he stood behind his words: “And I will immediately resign if a bill I sign adds even 1 cent to the deficit.
    Furthermore, my government pension and any royalties I earn for memoirs will be turned over to the Treasury. And I’ll pull the girls out of private school and donate their tuition to the D.C. Charter school program.”

  14. I daresay even more than the pressing issue of Marc Ambinder’s “umpiric objections” to having the media take a former Republican vice presidential candidate seriously as a health policy commentator.

    Especially since, whether she wrote it herself or not, at least Palin’s piece in the WSJ was more factual, reasonable, and conversant with economics than Obama’s speech. I’m all for not taking Palin seriously as a health policy commentator so long as the media doesn’t take President Obama seriously as well.

  15. Hey T, you didn’t actually dispute anything Matt wrote. Just complained. Do you have any real points to make.

    Missed the joke, didn’t you, Nicholas?

    The best way to avoid the influence of politicians on your intellect is to ignore their speeches. Why? Because they are generally content free and are largely meant to persuade by emotion and not reason.

    What’s actually more interesting is to wait until the day after, watch everybody react, and then go and read the transcripts. Compare what was actually said with what people think it means, and you’ll get a great sense of the commenter’s opinions. By and large, speeches are remarkably devoid of any hard information, but everybody projects what they want to see on them. This speech is no different.

  16. Personally, I think that dude called it for what it is, more lies and empty promises.

    RT
    http://www.anonymous-web.be.tc

  17. Every time Obama speaks, Americans get worried. Then they start yelling at their Congressmen. Then Obama has to give another speech.

    I would say Obama didn’t break that cycle.

  18. I’m asking this question seriously, not out of any ideology, but out of real concern:

    Is Obama, by far, the most dishonest and mendacious president we have had in a very long time, including Nixon and Johnson?

    I don’t give McChimpy BushHitler any points for honesty, but the O-Man seems to be outpacing him by leaps and bounds. He may even out-lie Bubba Clinton.

    I mean, fuck, is he even capable of saying anything truthful?

  19. Solana | September 10, 2009, 10:42am | #
    Great piece, Matt.

    Hear, hear!

    And that would be “…most dishonest, most mendacious…”

  20. If I could ask Obama anything, I’d ask him what’s wrong with not agreeing on a national level? What’s the danger in letting the states decide? If the public is really clamoring for healthcare reform, let their votes count more toward their own future, and let the states succeed or fail as a result of their decisions.

  21. Not bad, Matt, but I think you and the commenters are seeing “lies” where most objective observers would see “overly optimistic projections.” Not saying the latter is terrific, but this is an important distinction to make.

    Here’s why: As long as we aren’t calling the actual liars (Palin, town hall wingnuts) what they are, then they have a better chance of staying in the public debate. And then Obama’s free to argue against them instead of more reasonable skeptics.

  22. Not bad, Matt, but I think you and the commenters are seeing “lies” where most objective observers would see “overly optimistic projections.” Not saying the latter is terrific, but this is an important distinction to make.

    Were Obama’s lips moving when he made those “overly optimistic projections?”

    Here’s why: As long as we aren’t calling the actual liars (Palin, town hall wingnuts) what they are, then they have a better chance of staying in the public debate. And then Obama’s free to argue against them instead of more reasonable skeptics.

    Partisan troll or “overly pessimistic voter?”

  23. BD–

    I see your point. However, asserting that this plan will not add to the deficit is like me saying that I will definitely go out and do a two-handed dunk this afternoon, despite never having been able to even touch the rim (and barely the net) before. You can call that overly optimistic if you want, but that assumes that the speaker actually believes it. I’m skeptical.

  24. actual liars

    It’s not like you can back this up, because otherwise you would be telling us exactly how the black guy is right and all those angry armed men are wrong, but I don’t see the people protesting against government expense and power coercing you into anything.

  25. Anonymity bot speaks great wisdom

  26. If Obama is merely using “overly optimistic projections,” why can’t Palin be using “overly pessimistic projections” in suggesting that death panels will form or that grandma won’t get her new hip or that this will represent a government takeover of health care?

  27. My point, in case it wasn’t clear, was that Obama’s prediction is arguably as off base as Palins.

    You don’t get points for lying “optimistically.”

  28. I think you and the commenters are seeing “lies” where most objective observers would see “overly optimistic projections.”

    Given that, over 34 years, Medicare wound up costing nine times its projection (est. by House Ways and Means = 12 billion; actual cost = 107 billion), there comes a point where “overly optimistic” is way too generous. “Lying” is an appropriate adjective.

    900 billion is the estimate – estimating wildly optimistic, this plan will cost at least 2.7 trillion over ten years. God help us if it actually follows Medicare’s cost trend-line.

  29. “My point, in case it wasn’t clear, was that Obama’s prediction is arguably as off base as Palins.

    You don’t get points for lying “optimistically.”

    Really? In the UK, a single payer socialist system of the kind Obama has endorsed through most of his careers, they have no shit death panels and let premature babies die because they were born two days too soon. So Palin’s allegation has at least one real world example to back it up.

    Please name one govenrment entitlement in the history of the world that was ever deficit neutral?

  30. John – I don’t disagree. I think Palin is probably overstating her case *at this point*. Taking a negative projection if you will.

    My point was how that is different than making a positive projection? Especially in light of the fact that we all know it was overly optimistic, given TAO’s post.

    If someone wants to argue that Palin’s lying, that’s fine, but don’t tell me that Obama is just “overly optimistic.”

  31. calling the actual liars (Palin, town hall wingnuts)

    Examples? Or do you think that this is universally accepted fact, and therefore needs no support?

  32. Obama is a lying cunt.

    He may think he has a magic wand, but he is lying to himself and to everyone else.

  33. “We’ve estimated that most of this plan can be paid for by finding savings within the existing health care system-a system that is currently full of waste and abuse,” he said, making him at least the eighth consecutive president to vaguely promise cutting Medicare “waste”

    Matt, I don’t think that’s what he was saying. See, to the President, he thinks of a series of individual market decisions and actors as a “system”, and implicit in his statement here is the premise that the government can cut out the “waste and abuse” of private health insurance companies. I don’t think he was talking about Medicare at all – he’s talking about getting total GDP spending on health care “under control”…as if the government should be the one to determine where our priorities lie.

  34. JB, go die somewhere. No, really.

  35. I see I was a little slow on my post. Not that my question has been answered yet.

  36. I mean, the Congressional Budget Office is right down the street. If the President of the United States is not able to look at a simple chart to see what happened with Medicare and draw an analogy with what will happen with whole system, that is not “overly optimistic”, that is not dealing with reality.

  37. getting total GDP spending on health care “under control”

    This is one of the facets of this whole discussion that I don’t get. If we as a country spend 70% of our GDP on healthcare, as long as that was simply market driven, so what? If I’m willing to spend the majority of my income on healthcare, that is my choice. Why is that a matter for the government to fix? I really, honestly, don’t get it. Would it be better if we spent like 10% on healthcare, and 70% on recreational drugs, collecting bobbly headed geisha dolls?

  38. I’m still trying to figure out how private debts are impacting the national debt and the deficit. I mean, is the national debt calculating in the $200 still owed on my credit card, as well as the $35 I just paid my doctor for a test (check hasn’t cleared)?

    I’m being serious here, I want a no bullshit explaination of why he keeps saying that a lack of health insurance is impacting the deficit. I’m a smart guy, but it’s just not computing.

  39. Oh yes, I’m sure that based on Ted Kennedy’s own experience, he wished that his health care treatment (gold-plated Senator/federal employee care + rich person private care) was replaced by a one-size-fits-all single payer system, in which he’d get the same treatment as any John Doe. Right.

    JW: Yes. Obama is beginning to remind me of what Mary McCarthy said about Lillian Hellman: “Every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.'”

  40. “The whole point of forcing vigorous youth to buy insurance is using their cash and good actuarials to bring down the costs of covering the less fortunate.” You meant covering the old.

    I wonder how long it will take so-called progressives to figure out making younger, poorer, browner people subsidize older, richer, whiter people is apalling.

  41. freso dan – That appalling behavior has not stopped France from basically making that subsidization dictate its entire economic policy.

  42. Nobody with a functional brain should be surprised that the man who won the presidency by sounding good–while saying absolutely nothing substantive–should have to resort to half-truths and obfuscations when the going gets rough. We’re subjected to the same rerun every four years. Nothing new there. Truth-tellers rarely get elected.

    Regarding the public option “trigger” (a charming euphemism, as it’s really a loaded gun pointed at insurance companies), I’d like to see a health-care-budget “trigger” that would cancel the entire program if its actual costs exceed its wildly optimistic and unfounded advertised costs. Think it’ll happen?

  43. “Really? In the UK, a single payer socialist system of the kind Obama has endorsed through most of his careers, they have no shit death panels and let premature babies die because they were born two days too soon. So Palin’s allegation has at least one real world example to back it up.”

    First, have you lived in Europe to know this is not how it is or are you just believing what you are told? Second, I have lived there and it is the worst health care system in the world for developed countries. The hospitals are like bad clinics. Yes, there is no “death panel” but you have to wait in line for all medical care. It could take up to three years to have a hip replaced or broken arm set because it is not deemed severe enough. Their health system is also billions of dollars in debt. Whatever you think of the US health care system it is the best in the world, that is why all the best docter’s in the world were educated and practice in the US.

  44. I’m being serious here, I want a no bullshit explaination of why he keeps saying that a lack of health insurance is impacting the deficit. I’m a smart guy, but it’s just not computing.

    The best possible argument for that side goes as follows:

    1) People are reluctant to change jobs because they might lose their employer-based insurance,
    2) This keeps people in less efficient jobs and reduces efficiency and dynamism in the economy,
    3) Under this reform, people wouldn’t have to worry about that, so
    4) The economy would be better, which would help the deficit.

    The basic outline of the argument applies equally well to, e.g., McCain’s plan that Obama continued to slag off a bit last night, though.

  45. As long as we aren’t calling the actual liars (Palin, town hall wingnuts) what they are, then they have a better chance of staying in the public debate. And then Obama’s free to argue against them instead of more reasonable skeptics.

    Pot, kettle, as people have mentioned. My politician is “overly optimistic” when he ignores all existing research, but the other guy is a “liar.” Are you a hypocrite or just blinded by affection for your team?

  46. The stupid version of the “not having government health insurance hurts the economy” is the claim that having to pay for insurance hurts competitiveness. This is stupid, because either the companies are taxed for the government health care (and so they end up the same), or individuals are, in which case they’re worse off unless the companies pay them more. They would in all likelihood demand more, but even if they didn’t, I’m not sure President Obama wants to run on “Our companies need to pay our workers less so that we can be more competitive with overseas competition.”

    A slightly better version of that is claiming that government health care or mandatory purchases of health care will make health care more efficient.

  47. Iraq war projections weren’t lies, they were “overly optimistic”.

    Riiiight, liberals? Right?

  48. No no no, you misunderstand the idea of lying, Reason.com. Lying is what normal people do, but if the government says something, and you remember what they’re refering to differently, then obviously you just forgot what actually happened. Geez.

  49. “Insurance companies,” the president announced, “will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies,”

    Really? Why not also demand that doctors work for free?

    Why not demand that hospitals provide rooms for free?

    What a colossal jerk.

  50. Hilarious! All those words here and there, and not a single one about the fact that illegal aliens will be covered under Obamacare, one way or another.

  51. And people wonder why libertarians insist on poxing both houses. The most recent GOP rule was plagued by lies and abuse of power. The most recent Democratic rule is plagued by lies and abuse of power. And though the most recent iteration of this cycle is worse, as it stands on the shoulders of the evil accomplishments of its predecessors, it’ll be surpassed when the GOP returns to power. Which looks to be relatively soon.

    The president is too much the lawyer/salesman, thinking that he can bullshit his way out of everything. Ain’t working any more, and if he doesn’t stop, he’ll dig himself and his party into a very deep hole. Even deeper than the money pit.

    The best thing we can do–all of us–is to reject lies and distortions, even when they benefit our cause. Require integrity and fact-based decision making, and you might get some of it. What shocks me is how ends-motivated so many voters seem to be. I want my pony, and I don’t care how many people the government kills or impoverishes to get it.

  52. Let us not forget that there was a day when we had a group of Founding Fathers who realized that their civil behavior in political discourse failed to get King George’s attention, and thus they took the gloves off.

  53. Insurance is about how we pay for healthcare not what we pay for it. You could argue that we have too much insurance and that causes people with insurance to consume too much healthcare because the marginal cost for additional healthcare is low. But, you cannot argue that people not having insurance is driving up costs. That is insane. If people don’t have insurance, they presumably will forgo healthcare unless it is absolutely necessary because they have to pay out of their own pockets. Giving them insurance will just cause them to consume more and drive up costs.

  54. The result of this challenge-dodging counterpunch was a speech that pleased Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, but I doubt will sway the many Americans who are both on the fence and off Sarah Palin’s e-mail list.>>
    =========
    Not to worry, by the summer of 2012 the majority of these voters will behind Gov Palin’s nomination for the the next POTUS.

    Palin and Paul (either one) in 2012

  55. LoneWacko, Joe Wilson’s outburst was during Obama’s claim that illegal immigrants wouldn’t be covered. Some people here seem to be defending Joe Wilson on that.

    It’s likely that illegal immigrants will be covered for the same reason that illegal immigrants are able to get jobs. The bill doesn’t technically cover them, but it doesn’t enforce restrictions nor does it explicitly ban coverage. The latter would be needed to somewhat decrease the chance of a judge ordering coverage.

  56. Don’t group Palin and Paul together. She’s a nutty nut.

  57. From the speech: 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.

    That’s one more lie. Preventive care doesn’t save money- it costs more, as the CBO pointed out.

  58. The best thing we can do–all of us–is to reject lies and distortions, even when they benefit our cause.

    The second best thing is to at least vote for divided government, or government with restrictions.

  59. hmm, I think some type of efficiency panel is a good thing. As long as my tax dollars are being used to pay for YOUR healthcare, then yes I want it done in the most efficient manner possible. IMO, there certainly comes a point where we should ask home much of other people’s money should be spent in the last month or two of life.

    Of course if it’s your own money feel free to spend as much as you want.

  60. You don’t make yourself seem “more reasonable” by deriding Sarah Palin and those who admire her. Projecting where “public options” or “triggers” will inevitably lead, 100 times out of 100, is not hyperbolic or jumping to conclusions. It’s simply cutting through the BS and stating things clearly. That’s painful for politicians and the chatterers, the naked and unvarnished examination of the simple truth, but necessary.

    Trying to pivot off of Palin as some kind of nutcase extremist is simply the expression of the same ailment the plagues the Frums of the world. It may be a lesser case, but the same disease.

  61. “Insurance companies,” the president announced, “will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies,”

    And since the funding to cover these additional costs will magically fall out of the sky, not one cent of those costs will be passed on to individuals by those insurance companies.

  62. “The second best thing is to at least vote for divided government, or government with restrictions.”

    Exactly. Neither side does very well when given unresticted power.

  63. Well, that’s why we’re fighting for a libertarian alternative!

    Otherwise know as the “screw you, go die option”.

  64. Here’s my favorite part of the speech:

    “I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last. It has now been nearly a century since Theodore Roosevelt first called for health care reform. And ever since, nearly every president and Congress, whether Democrat or Republican, has attempted to meet this challenge in some way. A bill for comprehensive health reform was first introduced by John Dingell Sr. in 1943. Sixty-five years later, his son continues to introduce that same bill at the beginning of each session.

    Our collective failure to meet this challenge – year after year, decade after decade – has led us to a breaking point.”

    Translation: We’ve meddled, meddled & meddled some more, for nearly 100 years every President ever has gripped this industry with government’s iron hand tighter & tighter and yet things are worse than ever. By god, I’ll try harder!

  65. “Insurance companies,” the president announced, “will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies,”

    Sometimes… I’d like to get a branding iron and stamp TINSTAAFL into every politician’s head.

  66. The fundamental question is this: Does the mere fact that someone, somewhere is suffering from bad luck create a mortgage against everyone everywhere, for anything?

    I think the answer is obvious.

  67. Actually pretty good article in the NYT about controlling costs

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/10/opinion/10pollan.html?ref=opinion

    It all starts with indvidual responsbility, how strange.

  68. “I think the answer is obvious.”

    The answer is yes, right?

  69. Hack watch is here, let me run and tell the others.

  70. John,

    Thanks for the answer, as you see it. I know you’re not actually part of that side of the debate, but I’m going to respond anyways and see if anyone can actually clarify this for me.

    The best possible argument for that side goes as follows:

    1) People are reluctant to change jobs because they might lose their employer-based insurance,

    Bullshit. People are reluctant to change jobs because of a shift in pay and benefits, of which insurance is only one part.

    2) This keeps people in less efficient jobs and reduces efficiency and dynamism in the economy,

    Bullshit, because anything besides a downward move will likely result in a job with…survey says? Insurance!

    3) Under this reform, people wouldn’t have to worry about that, so
    4) The economy would be better, which would help the deficit.

    So basically, the argument is based on what is for the most part, bullshit. I kind of had a feeling about that.

    In my job, I’ve been tempted to leave for greener pastures. The problem? I haven’t found one. It hasn’t been health insurance that’s kept me in my position though, it’s the fact that I’m paid better than most people in this area and I’ve only been in this job for about four years. Most who won’t leave their jobs because of health insurance aren’t looking at jobs that are lateral or upward moves.

    Instead, this plan will more than likely add to our deficit in ways we can hardly imagine. Despite his assurances to the contrary, there is almost no way this can be revenue neutral while still providing everything to everyone at the same rate. It just won’t happen.

    Yep…we’re fucked.

  71. If people don’t have insurance, they presumably will forgo healthcare unless it is absolutely necessary because they have to pay out of their own pockets. Giving them insurance will just cause them to consume more and drive up costs.

    This ought to be carved into every legislooter’s forehead, so sensible it is.

    But don’t worry, we’ll get the unicorns on the problem.

  72. My point was how that is different than making a positive projection?

    What part of “Palin had an actual real world example” do you not understand?

  73. How exactly can “choice and competition” work if consumers have no idea what they are spending, and no control over the spending decisions?

    Under the current proposals (not to mention the current system), consumer “choice” would be limited to a small number of “plans” that come as package deals, over which the consumer has little say about content. Most spending decisions are made by some government or insurance company bureaucrat deciding whether a particular procedure is “wasteful” or “effective”. How much “competition” is there when you only get to choose from three plans your employer offers from the same insurer?

  74. Remember when Bush was “overly optimistic” about all those WMD’s we’d find in Iraq? Good times.

  75. I’m sure he means it when he says that any future overruns will have to be paid for with cuts in spending.

    But don’t forget, he’s counting whatever percentage of your income the government doesn’t take away as “spending.”

  76. @ Mike:

    Palin and Paul are very different politically. Paul, on one hand, is an experienced and educated doctor/politician/libertarian. Palin, on the other, is a neo-con hick.

  77. Bullshit, because anything besides a downward move will likely result in a job with…survey says? Insurance!

    There’s also possibly issues with large companies being able to negotiate better rates, and in particular it being difficult for people who want to quit and start their own country.

    It’s not entirely bullshit, but it’s both somewhat overstated and the President’s solution is an inferior way to do it. He’ll help with that one cost, but an approach that pushed health insurance down to individuals from corporations instead of up to the government would solve the disintermediation argument.

    I used to think that a bipartisan compromise could be had with something like vouchers or tax credits. But our President spent a lot of the speech last night bashing Medicare vouchers.

  78. Palin, on the other, is a neo-con hick

    Yeah, what with all her citing the Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon and the Congressional Budget Office and all. What a hick.

    But politics is mostly about voting for the people who are “our kind,” not about policies anyway.

  79. Sarah Palin with one Facebook entry did more to shape the health care debate than the President has in nine months with the White House bully pulpit.

  80. There’s also possibly issues with large companies being able to negotiate better rates, and in particular it being difficult for people who want to quit and start their own country.

    Hell, if people can quit and start their own country, then I’m outta here!

    Libertopia, here I come!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😉

    Seriously, I see the point. However,since most new businesses tank in the first five years, I still think it’s bullshit.

  81. Seriously, I see the point. However,since most new businesses tank in the first five years, I still think it’s bullshit.

    No, no, no. This is Obama we’re talking about. The phrase is “overly optimistic.” Perhaps that’s too strong. How about “too overcome with Rapture from his blinding aura of Hope?” Or “being too perfect and unfallen from Grace, unable to completely grasp how his mortal followers will behave in the real world?”

  82. No, no, no. This is Obama we’re talking about. The phrase is “overly optimistic.” Perhaps that’s too strong. How about “too overcome with Rapture from his blinding aura of Hope?” Or “being too perfect and unfallen from Grace, unable to completely grasp how his mortal followers will behave in the real world?”

    Yeah, like I said, bullshit 😉

  83. If only Reason hadn’t supported Obama in the first place.

  84. If only Reason hadn’t supported Obama in the first place.

    [citation needed]

  85. So under Obama’s plan, a physically fit and healthy young adult would be fined for not paying hundreds of dollars for health insurance he/she likely won’t ever use. But a slovenly, morbidly obese unemployed deadbeat who’s covered under Medicaid is A-OK. Welcome to Obamacare.

  86. “The fundamental question is this: Does the mere fact that someone, somewhere is suffering from bad luck create a mortgage against everyone everywhere, for anything?”

    Exactly. Most of us learn in kindergarten that life is not fair. Some of us think it is fixable by laws.

  87. “we have Spite Right hypocrites who cheer Wilson’s disrespect (after eight years of Dubya worship)”

    Uh huh. It was the the right which derailed Harriet Meyers and blocked multiple “comprehensive immigration reform” attempts. Not all that worshipful.

  88. “Not bad, Matt, but I think you and the commenters are seeing “lies” where most objective observers would see “overly optimistic projections.””

    Speaking as an objective observer, you sound like a Dem spinmiester. Either that or somebody a lot dumber than even Sarah Palin.

  89. I’m sorry — I thought this was Reason.com, where reasonable people of a libertarian mindset expressed the reasonable notion that government should be the last resort, not the first.

    Didn’t realize the Palin fan club, which espouses absolutely nothing libertarian aside from hunting rights, had taken over. Very sorry to see that.

    For those old-school Reason-ites, I’ll offer this — the current health-care system adds to the deficit because it wrecks the economy. Uninsured people go to ERs for primary care, and the government ends up eating a lot of that cost.

    And wave all the CBO projections you want, but any economist who tells you screening for cancer and catching it early (e.g., preventive care) is more expensive than catching it late is either a numbskull or figures the latter is cheaper because we can just let that person die. There’s a “death panel” for you.

    Maybe the CBO has found a few examples in which preventive care has gone overboard. Shouldn’t be too hard to find — you could find doctors who send healthy 32-year-olds for every test under the sun for no reason. Fine.

    But as a general statement, you’re going to take someone’s word for it that “preventive care” is more expensive? You’re going to take the word of — a bunch of government workers?

    Oh, right — this has morphed from a libertarian site to a Palin-ite site. My bad. Carry on.

  90. We all love Palin, it’s true.

  91. Michael Palin.

  92. Seriously — didn’t even of you realize that “overly optimistic” was NOT a compliment? I’m basically saying Obama’s being reckless as opposed to the “death squad / keep goverment away from my Medicare” crowd that’s being truly malicious. Is that really so hard a distinction to make? Or have libertarians started marching in the “those who aren’t for us are against us” lockstep of the two major parties?

    Again, a real shame. Used to be a nice place here.

  93. I’m being serious here, I want a no bullshit explaination of why he keeps saying that a lack of health insurance is impacting the deficit. I’m a smart guy, but it’s just not computing.

    Mind if I take a crack at it? This isn’t exactly what Obama is proposing, but I think it works something like this in the single-payer context (which is what we know Obama would prefer):

    Say that you pay $500 a month for your health insurance. Through the power of Good Government, we can take the same amount from you in taxes and provide you with the same quality care for $400. That leaves $100 to pay down the debt or buy a few wheels of government cheese.

  94. [A]ny economist who tells you screening for cancer and catching it early (e.g., preventive care) is more expensive than catching it late is either a numbskull or figures the latter is cheaper because we can just let that person die.

  95. “any economist who tells you screening for cancer and catching it early (e.g., preventive care) is more expensive than catching it late is either a numbskull or figures the latter is cheaper because we can just let that person die.”

    If Obamacare becomes a reality, tests for cancer will become rationed as they are in other countries with national health care and then there WILL be more cancer deaths from not catching it soon enough as is the case in other countries with national health care.


  96. Here’s why: As long as we aren’t calling the actual liars (Palin, town hall wingnuts) what they are, then they have a better chance of staying in the public debate. And then Obama’s free to argue against them instead of more reasonable skeptics.

    If you added to the tail end of that, ‘Why can’t we have more effective Republican leadership like we had when George Michael who knew his place when Tip patted him on the back and told him to go play a few rounds of golf while important issues were being decided’, I would have given you points for brilliant satire.

  97. Huh, half of my comment got eaten. Let’s try that again.

    “any economist who tells you screening for cancer and catching it early (e.g., preventive care) is more expensive than catching it late is either a numbskull or figures the latter is cheaper because we can just let that person die.”

    14-year-old girls can get breast cancer. Do you think that giving mammograms to every 14-year-old girl is going to be more or less expensive than treating the handful of girls who will develop breast cancer?

  98. “If Obamacare becomes a reality, tests for cancer will become rationed as they are in other countries with national health care and then there WILL be more cancer deaths from not catching it soon enough as is the case in other countries with national health care.”

    Really.

    And you guys are accusing ME of producing partisan talking points.

    For those who haven’t been paying attention: Obama isn’t suggesting national health care. If you want to wait two months for a Kaiser Permanente dermatologist to tell you whether you have a melanoma, you’re still free to do so.

  99. Palin, on the other, is a neo-con hick.

    Please explain what makes Palin a “neo-con.”

    Bonus points if you can do it without exposing your ignorance of what Neoconservatism is or drooling on yourself.

  100. “Please explain what makes Palin a “neo-con.”

    Her support for an Israel First policy.

  101. AK — How about reading the paragraph after the one you quoted.

    Good grief. Are you guys all watching cable news these days and learning selective quoting?

    Sorry to be so grouchy, but I’m seriously disappointed. I hadn’t checked in here in a while, and when I was last here, this place was a little more enlightened.

    Though I do love the Michael Palin reference.

  102. Not bad, Matt, but I think you and the commenters are seeing “lies” where most objective observers would see “overly optimistic projections.

    Overly optimistic projections can you get jailed by the SEC, you know.

  103. “For those who haven’t been paying attention: Obama isn’t suggesting national health care.”

    His public option will evolve into a national health care plan and he knows it.

  104. BD:

    It’s not one or two bad apple doctors ordering too many tests. Preventive care, for the most part, doesn’t save money. It saves lives — which is a good thing, and if you want to spend your money on preventive care, great — but it doesn’t lower overall costs.

  105. “His public option will evolve into a national health care plan and he knows it.”

    I was taught in school that a slippery-slope argument is a logical fallacy.

  106. “Banning cigarettes on airplanes is just reasonable will never evolve into banning them in bars or restaurants.”

  107. BD:

    “I was taught in school that a slippery-slope argument is a logical fallacy.”

    You were misinformed. Wasn’t the first or the last time, obviously.

  108. “”Banning cigarettes on airplanes is just reasonable will never evolve into banning them in bars or restaurants.”

    Proof-by-example fallacy, also known as inappropriate generalization.

    Just to finish up — I criticize because I care. I thought Matt would raise a good argument on the role of government in Obama’s health initiative, but what I’ve found is mindless repetition of GOP talking points and a failure to the “plague on both their houses” mindset that used to make this blog entertaining and even useful. I hope I’ve given you all the good kick in the pants you’ve needed to get back on track. Enjoy.

  109. When have libertarians ever trusted the government? And if anything we say sounds like the GOP, it’s only because they like to pretend to sound all limited governmenty when they’re out of power. Doesn’t make us wrong. We’re not.

    A public option, with all the anti-competitive baggage and hypersubsidization that it would inevitably entail, is a clear first step towards nationalized healthcare. From various public pronouncements, too, we can see that there’s an idea out there that the healthy young should be forced to carry insurance in order to subsidize older patients. That’s a lot more effective if there’s only one real insurance option.

    Given the misdirection, scare tactics, and outright lies we’ve been hearing about this plan, not to mention the abrupt rhetorical changes (Public option? What? We meant competition!) and refusal to consider deregulatory and free market options at all, well, I think a little concern is in order. The failure to consider how much the U.S. market props up the socialized medicine of other countries is a little disturbing, too.

    Our healthcare system works okay for the vast majority of citizens. If we’re making changes to help the margins, then a wholesale rework is unnecessary. If we’re trying to improve the quality and pricing of health insurance for all, then the very last thing we need is MORE government regulation and meddling. That’s a huge part of why things don’t work as well as we’d like now.

    Incidentally, slippery-slope arguments are not an argumentative fallacy. They may not always be right, but they are legitimate arguments, particularly in relation to government power. No one can rationally state that government power in this country has not tended to increase over time.

  110. BD,

    How about Obama in his own words saying that the public option is a way to get single-payer government health care? Oh, and the same video has Barney Frank saying that’s his intention as well.

    I guess this is the fallacy of taking people at their word?

  111. “You were misinformed. Wasn’t the first or the last time, obviously.”

    Volokh’s wrong. He can give hundreds of examples where one law led to another, and I can give thousands where it didn’t.

    Did speed limits lead to police banning you from driving? No.

    Did banning marijuana lead to banning alcohol? No. In fact, we’ve gone the other direction.

    Did requiring people to register cars lead to requiring people to ride bicycles instead? No.

    Did instituting a draft (which I find blatantly unconstitutional and completely at odds with the notion of a free country) lead to mandatory military service? No.

    Yes, there are people who press certain issues who want to continue pressing them. The people putting up barriers to abortion would like to see abortion banned. But that’s not a *logical* outcome. That’s an outcome you determine because the same people have often said publicly that they want abortion banned.

    If you don’t believe the slippery slope is a fallacy, then if someone suggests that the speed limit on your street be lowered from 40 to 35, you will be compelled to fight it because the next step might be to lower it to 20. And that’s illogical.

    There — Volokh refuted. My college textbook stands up.

    Anything else I can offer? I also juggle, but not very well.

  112. Slippery slope arguments can be argumentative fallacies, but generally only if (1) taken as a given with no supporting evidence and (2) taken to an extreme. If I say allowing the government to regulate speech in any way will result immediately in Nazi death camps, yeah, that’s fallacious reasoning.

  113. SugarFree — Best editing job I’ve seen since Homer Simpson confessed to groping the babysitter. 🙂

    It’s a little more complicated than that. Read this.

    And even if Obama supported actual national federalized single-payer Washington-bureaucracy-run health care, it’s not going to happen. And he knows it better than anyone.

    Feel better? That’ll be $39.50.

  114. OK, OK. Bad faith all you want. You bore me.

  115. BD, if you go home tonight and take a teaspoon of Clorox in your iced tea, it may make you sick but wont kill you. Neither will it kill you if you fill you glass with two cups of Clorox because that would be a slippery slope fallacy. Try it sometime!

  116. I’ve said this elsewhere, but the tolerance for and the willingness to join in spinning the truth into, well, something other than the truth is a real problem with modern politics. One thing our forebears had over us is that they ran and hid when caught doing something wrong. Now it’s all “I didn’t say/do that!” Even though, yeah, you did. Oh, and here it is on tape.

  117. I’m shocked that any seemingly self-professed “libertarian” posting here would not realize that the vast majority of slippery slopes in government DO come true.

    Banning marijuana didn’t lead to prohibition of alcohol because we already did that and everyone still knows it was disastrous. It has led to increasingly aggressive and crazy enforcement practices over the years though… So that’s a pretty horrible example.

    Let’s talk stuff that’s more Bill of Rights oriented though. Have FCC fines gone up or down? Has due process since the Patriot Act improved or gotten worse? Have earlier entitlement programs stopped at the levels they were originally intended or have they been continually expanded?

    Sure slippery slope can be a fallacy in reasoning, but at some point when you’ve been burned 10,000 times by the same damn thing, one would think that people would wise up a bit.

  118. I can see why someone may want to throw everybody off with a discussion of something as irrelevant to this matter as ‘the slippery slope fallacy’ when you have a pressing need to sweep the history of these participants under rug. After all, this is really about incrementalism. Every leftist radical that I have known who has decided to ‘change things from inside the system’ has advocated an incrementalist approach. Why would Obama be any different, and this matter now be an exception from a long established SOP?

  119. Very good article Mr. Welch.

  120. “The result of this challenge-dodging counterpunch was a speech that pleased Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, but I doubt will sway the many Americans who are both on the fence and off Sarah Palin’s e-mail list.”

    You clearly know little about politics and quite about about dissension if you believe that Obama’s speech will appeal to the left.

    The only people who could possibly be happy about this plan are Republicans. This plan is a non starter for liberals. Liberals are not stupid. We know that Obama did not deliver us health care as he promised. He delivered customers to the insurance companies that we despise for profiting from human misery.

    Obama entrenched the status quo.

    Obama and his mandated health insurance can kiss my lefty ass.

  121. Ray… you realize that Matt Welch linked to the love fest on Olberman & Maddow right?

    Have you bothered to read the reactions from other lefty asses at the Huffington Post?

    Here’s EJ Dionne:

    “But for all of the details, the most striking aspect of the address may have been its call to battle: The days of taking incoming fire without any return volleys are over. […]

    It seemed as if a politician who had been channeling the detached and cerebral Adlai Stevenson had discovered a new role model in the fighting Harry Truman. For the cause of health-care reform, it was about time.”

    Yeah, you’re right, the left is real smart there Ray. (As it happens, you are actually right though… Obama’s plan DOES entrench the status quo, kudos on that observation.)

  122. BD – I agree with you. I’m looking for intelligent debate about this, and would’ve thought a libertarian forum would be suited to this. But equating misleading projections (which we hear from both sides of the aisle) with screaming about ‘death panels’ (which already exist in the private healthcare system) is nonsensical. As to these comments … anyone who seriously quotes or references Ms. Palin has no credibility. She is a troll in the internet flame war that politics has become. And it is disgusting.

  123. Death panels exist in the private system??

    Really?

    Because in the (not really) “private” system, last I checked I still have the ability to purchase whatever treatments I want to save my life regardless of who my insurance provider is provided I can pay for it, no?

    Oh yeah. Right. Somebody’s a little confused about the difference between government monopolies and actual rationing and goods that are just expensive.

  124. Sean,

    No. I found no link to Kieth or Rachel in the article. I did watch an Olberman clip or two at msnbc.com and a Maddow clip at Democratic Underground. I saw no love fest. I saw talking points being conversed so that they wouldn’t submarine their Pres. I have seen the Kucinich clip at several sites where he disappointingly says that there will be 30 million new insurance customers if this plan passes.

    Kudos to you for finding the missing link, maybe you’re kindred spirits.

    I didn’t read the fluff portion of Obama’s speech and have no comment on other people’s reaction to it. Obama lost my support when he bailed on the public option but included the corporate option. Funny how Change You Can Believe In smells just like the same ole sh*t.

  125. Ms. Palin has no credibility

    Let’s take that as a basic given. Why does she not have credibilaty? That little thing she wrote up on FaceBook about ‘death panels’. Okay. We have a set up.

    Talking about ‘death panels’ leads a person to not having credibility because of the scurrilousness of the claim. Let us agree on that.

    ‘death panels’ (which already exist in the private healthcare system

    See what you did there? Whoops, rhetorical suicide committed through
    negligence of one’s on internal contradictions. Don’t beat yourself up over it, though. The condition is very common on your side of the fence.

  126. What is really laughable is the unchallenged assumption that Obama has more credibility than Palin. As Welch lays out in his article, he certainly does not, and he is as willing to use distortion as the next chick from Alaska. That speech he gave on Monday was a flaming ball of white hot ignorance and revealed an obtuse attitude in regard to workable alternatives to multiplying the regulatory scheme and the payers into another round of wealth transfers from youth to elderly because the current system is breaking apart. Last year marked the first year that Medicare dipped into the general funds instead of the other way around.

  127. “Oh yeah. Right. Somebody’s a little confused about the difference between government monopolies and actual rationing and goods that are just expensive.”

    No I don’t think they’re confused at all. It’s a standard lefty staple that we already have “rationing” in the private sector.

    It isn’t actual rationing unless government force is involved.

    Not being able to afford something that someone else can isn’t “rationing”.

  128. Liberalism continues to appear to be a mental, intellectual and spiritual disease.

    But Obama and his “we will call you out” thugocracy? Way over the socialist/Marxist edge. He, the Democrats in Congress and the liberals and leftists among them or who support them are playing with fire that is going to burn them and cause damage elsewhere.

    “We” will call them out, perhaps from the streets of D.C. and elsewhere, perhaps before the 2010 elections. Of course, regardless when, they’ll all soil their shorts and panties, then whine and cry.

    BTW, the Democrats booed and hissed at W. during one of his speeches; the 2005 SOTU one. During Bush’s eight years, they and their cohorts could not even spell r-e-s-p-e-c-t for Bush when he was in office. Just as someone in a post here ignorantly and maliciously called Bush “BushHitler.”

    While what Wilson may have done is rude, at least he had the testicularity to finally say what’s on the minds of millions of Americans. Too bad he apologized for telling the truth about the prevaricator-in-chief.

    By the way, it’s gross generalization for someone to say that those right of center or farther away worshipped W. In his last couple of years, particularly the last, he helped set up the fiscal mess that spend-like-a-drunken-sailor (with apologies to sailors) Obama and his administration have substantially worsened.

  129. Any government-run “public option,” he claimed, somehow “won’t be” subsidized by taxpayers, but instead would “be self-sufficient and rely on the premiums it collects.”

    What Obama left out of that statement is the fact that if the premiums are collected as a result of compulsory health insurance coverage, then taxpayers most assuredly are subsidizing the program. Whether one pays the premiums to the government – and/or to private companies in bed with the government – or pays a penalty/fine on one’s tax return, it is a tax. As a matter of fact it amounts to a head tax – or the closest thing to one that we’ve ever had in this country.

    Obama and his boys are not concerned with expanding health care but with expanding health care coverage. They are interested in getting their paws on some more money to pay for all the entitlement programs the government has obligated itself for over the years. In his previous speech, before the congressional recess last month, he emphasized that economic recovery could not succeed without a solution to “the health care crisis.” And in last night’s speech he said the taxpayers cannot continue to subsidize the uninsured. What he left unsaid is that the government cannot continue to pay for all the social welfare entitlements and the recent corporate welfare entitlements without either raising taxes or finding new taxpayers.

    Just as a Ponzi scheme needs an ever widening pyramid of suckers to pay returns to those who got in early at the top, so too does Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and all the government employees it takes to administer those and various other government programs. If one adds to that the pay, benefits, and retirement pensions of all the various public employees in this country, the average citizen, who is not getting a government paycheck, feels like he has had one of the Pyramids of Giza dropped on him.

  130. Too bad he apologized for telling the truth about the prevaricator-in-chief.

    Indeed he did tell the truth.

    Here is some detail on how right Wilson was:

    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MzU5MjU2NDNlZmNkOTUyNDdmM2ZkYTI2YmE5ZjAxMzY=

  131. ” Last year marked the first year that Medicare dipped into the general funds instead of the other way around.”

    What is amusing is all the contradictory statements the liberal Dems make about Medicare in all their cheerleading for Obamacare.

    We are told Medicare is an example of a succesfull program that is more efficient than private sector healthcare.

    Yet we are told that this uber “efficient” program has $500 B of fat that can be cut out of it to apply to the new costs of Obamacare.

    We are also told that seniors will not see any cuts in their Medicare benefits as part of Obamacare despite having $500 B carved out of Medicare costs.

    We are also supposed to believe that further cutting of Medicare won’t lead to any more cost shifting onto private healthcare despite the fact that such cost shifitng is already one of the primary reasons for the increase in costs of private healthcare.

    And increases in those healthcare costs is what Obama claims his plan will get under control and is one of the main rationalizations he’s using to push his plan to begin with.

  132. Ugh please.. no more mentioning Palin… I was actually leaning towards voting whatever piece of shit the GOP put out in 2012, but if it is Palin or anyone related to her. I’d rather just watch us get spent into oblivion by Obama.

    All I’ve got to say is that neither McCain or Palin look good on free speech and civil liberties what so fucking ever. Plus she was affiliated with McCain. PLEASE don’t give us her in 2012… for fuck’s sake.. I’d pee my pants I’d be so happy if Ron Paul was GOP candidate in 2012… but if it ends up being Palin I will really lose all hope.

    Seriously, support Palin and you’ll secure yourselves failure in 2012.

    https://www.reason.com/news/show/134714.html

  133. Seriously… drop the fucking Palin talk.

    I usually like reading the comments here, please get the fuck out GOP hicks who make laws that would punish people 20 years in prison for comic books and who started the war on drugs, and who can be blamed for a large part of our societal problems because of their fascist policies. Palin is cut from the same cloth. Get the fuck out.

    You are not welcome.

  134. PalinisNotTheAnswer go smoke some weed or down another can of beer. It is obvious by your offensive usage of curse words to get your point across that you are uneducated. It is also obvious that your inability to assemble a coherent argument without littering it with personal insults and references to waste excrement also show a lack of intelligence. Finally you obviously missed a lesson in history and civics class that the United States is a free country in which people are entitled to speak and write their opinions. If the Palin commentary on this board angers you so much you should take your own advice.

  135. Eh, Welch isn’t honest. He says Obama broke his pledge to not raise taxes on those making less than $250,000 a year, then links to himself, his own article, as proof of that. Lame, and Welch complains in his own earlier article that a cigarette tax, which is a good thing for health care cost, is proof that Obama broke his pledge. Don’t read this guy ever again, if you value your time.

  136. BO”s credibility is defunct, and he is becoming more and more irrelevent!

  137. “Welch complains in his own earlier article that a cigarette tax, which is a good thing for health care cost, is proof that Obama broke his pledge.”

    It IS proof Obama broke his pledge you moron. Unless you think the only people who buy smokes are those who make over $250 K a year.

  138. Funny thing there, “starting to thaw” is still frozen.

    Given that the facts are:

    ? Socialism is no private property with government owning the means of production and distribution. And “by owning” that’s “100% owning”.
    ? And nothing Obama has proposed, nor anything that he has “hypothesized on as an intellectual exercise”, like his wishing for a single payer system vis-?-vis healthcare, even comes remotely close to Socialism.
    ? Nor does Obama’s proposed top marginal tax rates approach anything close to the levels that we had under many “conservative” presidents in the past 90 years.
    ? No White president in the history of the Republic has had this many lies spewed about him in such a short time. See claim in Article where “starting to thaw” is somehow magically still not frozen.

    It would appear that that the word Socialist in relation to Obama is nothing more than the N-Word repackaged.

  139. And I should add that when Conservatives mention who pays taxes, they conveniently leave out things like payroll & cigarette taxes and only count income tax in their charts/numbers; now they want to confess that those others are now taxes.

    Pick a side of your mouth to talk out of.

  140. This is an extremely insightful analysis of THE health care speech. President Obama does NOT lie, but he does not tell the entire truth either. Ah, the political-rhetorical art of Bill Clinton brought to a higher level. No wonder the Clinton dynasty foundered before his challenge.

    “Consumers do better when there is choice and competition”. The President should have then said “and read David Goldhill’s recent article for the solution”. And then, goodnight and God bless America.

    But no. “Choice and competition” will be provided by heavy government regulation and a Postal Service-like entity. Goldhill made it crystal clear that government can NOT control costs via innovation and quality improvement; it controls costs via rationing. Think about that the next time you are looking for a mail box to mail a bill, or are standing in line for 40 minutes waiting to buy stamps or pick up a signature-required package. Oh, and get there before 4 pm on weekdays, or if you’re lucky and your local PO still has Saturday hours, before 11 am.

    I’m still concerned about fairness; I would recognize health care as a human right. I accept the role of government in protecting the less fortunate, of leveling the playing field, of being there for families when disaster strikes, of keeping the majority protected from the worst instincts of individuals.

    But I’m also concerned about incentives, about individual choice, about the power of markets and profits to create innovations and efficiencies based upon quality, about the ability of individuals to decide what is best for them. It’s always a question of balance between capitalism and socialism, between freedom and responsibility, between the one and the many.

    We need a health care system that strikes the right balance and corrects all of the historical distortions such as employer-provided health care coverage for some and government single-payer for the balance. Obama and the Dems are clearly taking us too far into the socialist camp while preserving all of the historical distortions.

    Goldhill describes a possible balance based on a mix of health savings accounts, borrowing for certain foreseeable situations (e.g. pregnancy), public subsidies, and a certain level of governmental oversight. I myself favor a mix of public health coverage vouchers (yes, requiring higher taxes — but at least you’d get something of value for your money), federal minimum coverage standards / cherry-picking prohibitions, and incentives for doctor/hospital networks to directly compete with established health insurers for voucher business.

    Under either system, you would 1.) put the consumer and producer incentives in the right place, 2.) relegate the insurance industry to what it does best (which is NOT individual health care management, as they do now via HMO’s and such), and 3.) have the government act as the umpire and stadium manager, and NOT as the coach and the team on the field.

    If health care consumers (i.e., we Americans) were in charge of our health care coverage arrangements, and if we dealt direct with the producers of that health care, we might then actually see costs come under control while quality of care and service go up (as the case with most competitively purchased goods and services).

    The Dems don’t get it. And the GOP doesn’t get it either. Who will step into Arisotle’s “golden mean” for health care? Senator Ron Wyden, in his better moments, might see it. David Goldhill sees it. I believe that Mr. Welch also sees it.

    Unfortunately, politics being what they are, the crisis will need to get worse. The economy will need to be near collapse with seniors rioting in the street because of care rationing, before the better solutions will be considered (along with solutions that will be so much worse). Mr. Obama, Nancy, Harry, Max and all the other Dems are just doing their part in the dance of the inevitable. And perhaps Olympia will join us for a waltz …

    It feels something like 1855. There was a fringe that wanted to take slavery nationwide. And also a fringe that knew that slavery was tearing the nation at the seams, and had to be ended. The mainstream Dems were trying to find compromises to please everyone. They passed all sorts of compromise legislation. Eventually, the fundamental underlying social and economic forces had their way. Funny how history sort-of repeats itself. (Hopefully this time without anything so terrible as the Civil War and Reconstruction).

  141. First of all, this article is discredited because it was obviously written by someone who knows nothing about politics, and whose own opinions and what they call “facts” are lies in themselves. Second, just because an article is written, doesn’t mean the person who is writing it has any knowledge of how politics work, more or less, the government. I think he needs to step back and take a look at how this country was function under the Bush Administration vs. Obama’s. While possibly not the perfect solution, it is far better than living another 8 years with a greedy, war hungry president.

  142. What gets me is the fraud, waste and abuse that Obama talks about, why doesn’t he find all this then come back to us and show us who he put in jail for the fraud, who got fired for the waste and who got cut off of medicare and medicad for the abuse. Until that its just words nothing more.

  143. Karl K is begging for a [citation needed] but the anti-Matt Welch posts on this thread are so incoherent I’m not sure if it’s worth it.

  144. Hassan:

    You attacked me. So explain to me how this furthers your argument?

    I’m saying Palin is not a libertarian, and she would be a horrible party leader. Explain to me why this isn’t true. Explain to me how she wouldn’t just be another war-mongering fascist like McCain. Explain to me how she is possibly even qualified. Explain to me why I should trust her on matters such as free speech and civil liberties. Don’t attack me personally.

    Also, you equate “free-country” to this somehow meaning you can’t be asked by someone who is part of a community to shut up. The First Amendment is about the protection from government sanctions on speech, not me telling you on a libertarian internet forum that Palin is a horrible choice for a candidate.

  145. ? Socialism is no private property with government owning the means of production and distribution. And “by owning” that’s “100% owning”.

    Baloney. What you describe would be Marxism or Communism – not quite the same thing.

    It would appear that that the word Socialist in relation to Obama is nothing more than the N-Word repackaged.

    Oh, you mean Nazi? Yeah, that word would fit pretty well.

    Pick a side of your mouth to talk out of.

    Tell your Obama Been Lyin’ to quit talking out of both sides of his ass, dude.

  146. Obama deceives you every minute, relentless lies
    But you cant say the man lies, so his followers live in a world of fiction.

    “The truth is that health insurance is one of the least profitable industries in America. In fact, according to Fortune ma…gazine, such companies only make 2.2 cents for every dollar of gross sales:”

    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2009/09/10/mythbuster-health-insurance-one-least-profitable-industries

    29 General Merchandisers 3.2
    30 Health Care: Pharmacy and Other Services 3.0
    31 Packaging, Containers 3.0
    32 Beverages 2.9
    33 Engineering, Construction 2.7… Read More
    34 Health Care: Medical Facilities 2.4
    35 Health Care: Insurance and Managed Care 2.2

    Top companies
    1 Network and Other Communications Equipment 20.4
    2 Internet Services and Retailing 19.4
    3 Pharmaceuticals 19.3 (Obama buddies)
    4 Medical Products and Equipment 16.3… General elect Obama Buddy

  147. Great article!

  148. Obama spreading a few lies is an understatement. This is also not a new trait for Obama, remember all the jobs he was going to create with the stimulus bill. His HC bull is extensive, but the biggest problem is his math does not add up. I believe this will be his Waterloo.

  149. Some of what this guy is calling “Obama lies” are highly debatable. I think it’s very reasonable for Obama to say that on Feb 24 the economy was in crisis. After all, the stock market was still in freefall and didn’t hit the bottom for 2 weeks.

  150. I’m hearing everywhere that Wilson “called Obama a liar.” I was watching and all I heard him say was “not true” when Obama said illegals would not get medical coverage. As I understand it emergency rooms cannot turn away any injured party–in most jurisdictions. Doesn’t this make the president’s statement “not true”???? Were any Dem congressmen ever rude to BUSH, by the way?

  151. I find it incredible that our RINO lead Republican party did not have the cajones to stand up in unison in the Halls of Freedom during the useless speech given by a uncredentialed leader and do as Congressman Wilson did and call this man a liar to his face. Wilson was indisputably correct and the look on Pelosi and Biden’s faces was good indication this would have been the right call and a good show of Republican resistance to a bad idea….It was not to be and it is a digrace that McCain the perfect RINO was allowed to mutter his insignificance and give credence to a liar instead.

  152. It’s pretty amazing to see so many people arguing about the specifics of who lied when the answer is so stunningly simple. All of our so-called “Government for the people, by the people” officials lie routinely about everything.

    It’s incredibly naive to believe anything that any of them say anymore. They don’t work for us, they work for themselves. They are primarily motivated by greed and by their own selfish ideologies and self interests.

    It’s not even about us anymore and it hasn’t been for a long time now. Does no one see this?

  153. @deadzone:

    I fully agree. The only politician that holds any sort of office that I have any respect for whatsoever is Ron Paul, even if I don’t agree with him on everything, but I find as time goes on I tend to agree with him more and more.

  154. What you describe would be Marxism or Communism – not quite the same thing.

    The only difference between Communism and Socialism that I can see, is that Communism is Socialism run by onservatives.

    The definition of Socialism in the dictionary is: No private property and the government owns the means of production and distribution.

  155. any student of psychology should be able to easily identify obsma’s narcissistic delusion. i don’t think it has anything to do with not “leveling” with the american public. obama has decided that his plan saves the country money (of course it does nothing of the sort), so therefore it is true simply because HE says it. this is about his historic greatness, ghandi, jesus, roosevelt rolled into one, and nothing arcane like mathematics or common sense will prevent HIS destiny, this is what the idiotic electorate has given us. since they’re idiots, they evaluate political candidates and complex issues on the basis of how cool someone is, or how good they are at giving a speech. wonderful time to be an american….

  156. So do we stick with the status quo? Is the current system working well for us? What specifically is the President lying about? I have not seen any independent source that confirms any lies contained in the address. If I am mistaken please educate me and point me to the proper source material. In either case it seems clear to me that there is a problem that continues to grow and political oponents seem to be content to itch and complain and not offer any solutions or bother to have a reasonable discussion or debate aimed at crafting a solution.

  157. Hot off the proverbial presses Kevin, I offer you: Obama Speechifies on Health Care

    Forgive the informality and the (current but soon amended) lack of my typical citations listing for such long essays.

    And NO… WE don’t stick with the “status quo”… I mean, unless you support the Obama plan – in which case, that’s exactly what you’d be doing.

  158. I wonder if the EDITOR IN CHIEF has an existing health care policy which has not increased by at least 20% in the past two years? As a former employee of the health care fiasco, I suggest you volunteer a couple nights in the local ER. You will see waste on in tonnage. Without health care reform, the good ol’ USA will spend itself to death, and Obama will enroll in juilliard to be the next Joshua Bell.

  159. Michael – I can’t really tell from your post what the point is. Obama’s “reform” will only increase costs and exacerbate the waste & other problems… And the Editor In Chief (assuming you mean Matt Welch) has many articles complete with citations & links & everything explaining why… Also – my own essay above parsing Obama’s speech has links… plus there’s always this.

  160. “I wonder if the EDITOR IN CHIEF has an existing health care policy which has not increased by at least 20% in the past two years?”

    I don’t know about him but I certainly have one that didn’t. In fact, the premium costs of mine decreased from last year. I switched to a higher deductable plan that is coupled with a health spending account where my employer contributed a set amount of money to apply towards costs. Any of that I don’t use this year gets rolled over to next year – and so on.

    Obama and the dems detest these kind of arrangements because (1) it allows people more control over their own healthcare spending and they hate people being in control instead of them being in control and (2) it allows the relatively healthly people who these type plans are most beneficial for escape being lumped into the same risk pool as the sicker people who are not going to go with those plans and therefore they aren’t being forced to subsidize those other people folks to the extent that the dems want.

    And if they get their way those type of plans will get blasted out of existence and the people in them will be forced into higher cost plans.

  161. Amen, Matt! U R My new hero! My dad was MURDERED July 13th due to this Obama crap. I’m going public here in good ole Orange County, CA – HUNTINGTON HARBOR WEALTH…

    I will not TOLERATE OBAMA one second more!!

    Forever daddy’s little girl,
    Lisa D. Holland
    714-227-0966

  162. “He needs to get voters on board. And if there’s any tactic less effective at wooing skeptics than number-fudging insincerity, it’s number-fudging insincerity coupled with attacks on the veracity, motivation, and worldview of the skeptics themselves.”

    All quite true, but what worries me is that I read that support for this health care plan rose by DOUBLE DIGITS after this dishonest and manipulative performance. Since there is virtually no media accountability for his fact-fudging and distortions, people are easily swayed.

  163. Marylou asks: Were any Dem congressmen ever rude to BUSH, by the way?

    There is a YouTube clip of George Bush’s 2005 State of the Union speech: the Dems roundly booed him more than once. Of course, you hear absolutely nothing about that in response to this faux-rage that Wilson had the “audacity” to speak the truth and unmask the chosen One. He lies all the time, and the facts are available for anyone who bothers to look them up. The Fourth Estate is dead.

    [I don’t think this posted: if it’s a repeat, forgive the redundancy]

  164. To Ray at 6:41: You clearly know little about politics and quite about about dissension if you believe that Obama’s speech will appeal to the left.

    But Ray, I beg to differ. I spend time on a liberal forum where they are equally disgusted by Obama’s pretend-progressivism. He is a political opportunist with allegiance only to his own delusions of grandeur. However, most of the lefty blogosphere, commentators and publications, including a glowing article by The Nation, are deaf, dumb and blind when it comes to Obama. It is a cult of personality, and even as he sells out to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, they applaud, and suggest it is a long-term strategy to achieve higher goals. He does this on every policy front, and they continue to rationalize his craven lack of commitment to anything but himself.

  165. fif – the “double digit” increase was nothing more than the result of bad statistical sampling:

    “The sample of speech-watchers in this poll was 45 percent Democratic and 18 percent Republican. Our best estimate of the number of Democrats in the voting age population as a whole indicates that the sample is about 8-10 points more Democratic than the population as a whole.”>

    It’s buried in the last paragraph of their article about it, but it is there.

    It’s yet another reason we should all remember that polling is almost entirely meaningless. Penn & Teller’s “Fuck You Frank” should be the collective cry of the entire country everytime some news-source reports a poll as a legitimate piece of data.

  166. Obama qualifications to reform health care:

    No birth certificate

    Cannot stop smoking

    Difficulty telling the truth.

    Therefore, I Igor produce Obama Birth Certificate at http://www.igormaro.org

    Compare Obama Care vs Igor Care at Obama vs Igor Care

  167. “Any governmen-run public option won’t be subsidized by taxpayers”.
    While we wander in fantasyland, I think I might actually get laid today.

  168. Beware of O, he is the master of defining what the definition of “is” is and makes another habitual liar look like a kindergarten version of himself…besides just like Rush pointed out, O’s magic number of uninsured has dropped from 47 million to this last speeches 30 million….we haven’t even approached Ocare and we’ve already insured 17 million more people.How about that 14,000 a day losing insurance,if you deduct this from the 17 million,using O-math,we have still insured over 15 million new people.
    Beware of the man who is constantly trying to feed you a c*** sandwich ,all the time telling you” it will taste like Kobe beef,only different.”

  169. Sad to see Matt Welch join the ranting looney-tune fringe right. I guess everybody is hankering to capture a portion of Rush L’s audience.
    In fact, we need death panels and binding arbitration if we are to control health care costs and keep quality high.
    I would expect libertarians to sing the praises of “death panels,” which are eminently sensible in light of the expanding ability and expense of keeping a patient alive for a few weeks or months past the expiration date.
    As asking for-profit insurers to take this role is asking a bit much (evident conflicts of interest), in fact a public panel should say “when” on pulling the plug.
    Welch, if he had true libertarian cajones, will write his next column on the need for “death panels” and the right of terminally ill to smoke pot and snort coke to do whatever it takes to be comfortable until passing.
    “Obama is Right: Death Panels Will Save Money, Improve Care.”
    Or, Welch can pander to Obama birth certificate crowd. World Net Daily, here we come.

  170. What about Pre-Existing conditions? i have HepC, and certainly an older person having trouble with their hips would be considered to have a P-E C condition.

    We’d all be left out in the cold, under his plan, if we couldn’t afford Private Insurance, and we probably will end up NOT being able to.

  171. This is my first read on Matt Welch and I just heard about you on the News Hour with Gwen Ifill. I thought you were brilliant. As to healthcare reform and your article, I was laughing all the way through it – because you were hitting too many nails on the head – Obama needs his tele-prompter on at all times because I am finding out our democratic/republic really works when it comes to congress. Maybe Joe Wilson calling Pres. Obama out on the floor was the only truth present in the room.

  172. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets.

  173. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane.

  174. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp.

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