'We Are Eliminating the Impact of Lobbyists,' Including the Ones Who Snuck in the Provisions I Supported


Yesterday I noted that during his Q&A with House Republicans on Friday, President Obama falsely claimed that he never said opponents of his health care plan were not offering alternatives. Here are a couple more whoppers from the same exchange:

1. "We've actually been very consistent in making sure that we are eliminating the impact of lobbyists, day in/day out, on how this administration operates" (emphasis added).

Even if you interpret that statement as an aspiration, it is neither realistic nor desirable. As long as politicians and their appointees are making decisions that affect people's interests, those people will try to influence them. Lobbying is a right guaranteed by the First Amendment, and although it can result in bad policies (as can freedom of speech in general), it can also block or reverse them.

2. "We said from the start it was going to be important for us to be consistent in saying to people [that] if you want to keep the health insurance you've got, you can keep it; that you're not going to have anybody getting in between you and your doctor in your decision-making. And I think that some of the provisions that got snuck in might have violated that pledge."

It's true that the health care legislation, contrary to Obama's promises, would have affected people who like the coverage they have. But that wasn't only because of "provisions that got snuck in"; it was also because of features that Obama himself backed, including the excise tax on especially expensive health benefits, which was designed to change people's coverage, and new regulations that would have effectively banned the combination of catastrophic coverage with health savings accounts.

I'll have more tomorrow, in a column about Obama's contribution to the "deficit of trust."