Our President said many things last night that were true within the narrow confines of his intentions and imagination. The speech conformed to the Clinton meaning-of-“is” principle: That is how he said things. Most of what he said, however, was logically and practically false and he cannot not know that. President Obama was not honest.
One of many things he said that I found strange was that ninety percent of all insureds in Alabama buy their health coverage from a single company. That’s not necessarily strange by itself, but the President used it to bolster his repeated claim that only government intervention can provide necessary competition among health insurers. Unfortunately for the President’s intended point, the reason for this particular monopoly is the government of Alabama. Alabama regulations prevent other insurance companies from competing in Alabama. That is, there’s no free market.
If, as he claims, President Obama truly desires increased competition, and if, as he says, he supports a free market, then he would advocate breaking down such obvious government barriers to competition before seeking to reinvent the entire health care system on 60 days notice. This reform would be free to taxpayers, certainly reduces health insurance costs in Alabama, and can easily be reversed. Why not try it?
If the President believed his own rhetoric what he certainly would not do is blame private industry for the effects of government regulation. Though I’m sure that insurance company in Alabama lobbies hard to keep its market share at 90%, they can’t be blamed for protectionism practiced by Alabama legislators.
Our President also told us how he would pay for most of Ted Kennedy’s dream, “Reducing the waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid will pay for most of this plan.” Arnold Kling supplied this rejoinder: “And if we don’t pass this plan, does he intend to keep the waste and inefficiency, out of spite?”
Powerline also noticed how many of the President’s comments were misleading and needlessly partisan. A particularly egregious example:
[Obama] There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false – the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.
[Powerline] This is an outright lie, as Congressman Joe Wilson couldn’t resist blurting out during Obama’s speech. The Democrats defeated Republican-sponsored amendments that would have attempted, at least, to prevent illegals from being treated under the House version of Obama’s plan. I think everyone expects that if Obamacare becomes law, illegals will receive benefits on an equal basis with citizens.
Over at Reason magazine they also noticed some reality discrepancies: Obama’s Lies Matter, Too
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.
The President needed to gain trust. He needed to invoke hope and engender change. He failed.