Politicians and the consequences of lying

From The Belmont Club, The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes.

Robert Reich has been widely quoted in the news and blogs lately, citing a 2007 speech he delivered at UC Berkeley in which he is supposed to have said of health care reform that:

  • Younger people should pay more
  • Healthier people should pay more
  • Older people should just die- they’re “too expensive”
  • There should be “less innovation” in medical technology
  • You should not expect to live longer than your parents.

That is largely going to be interpreted as the “hidden truth” that the MSM doesn’t want you to know and to a certain extent it is, but not in the way the casual reader may understand it. Robert Reich was once my teacher and I knew there had to be more to it than that, and so I went to the source: …

RTWT You’ll need to to appreciate the following.

The post suggests that what Reich was saying was “telling the truth is electoral suicide.” I think this is demonstrably naive. The idea that telling the truth is electorally irrelevant seems a lot closer to reality.

Put it this way, Barack Obama told us the truth over and over again and it was much clearer and starker than a thousand page cap-and-tax bill; “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.” Other truths he told us: “The Supreme Court, tragically, never spoke on redistribution.” or, “Judge me by the people who surround me.” or, “What I really favor is a single-payer health care system.”

Even now, when he says, “If you want to keep your health care plan, you can,” it’s true. The unspoken implication that makes that so is, “It’s just that it will bankrupt you or your employer.”

On the evidence, I’m afraid politicians telling the truth actually doesn’t matter much. Most American voters don’t listen.

What this country needs is prevarication reform

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.

Would you buy a used plan from this man?

President Obama is considering making a speech prior to September 15th, the most recent deadline he set for the Senate to agree on a bipartisan health care “reform” bill. According to top presidential adviser David Axelrod, the speech would be “more prescriptive” about Obama’s redefinition of health care. I’m sure it will mention his good friend, Senator Kennedy. It shouldn’t, but it will.

What the President should do is resolve the profound differences in his own positions by clearly stating whether he favors a single payer universal care system now, or in the future. He could categorically reject any special interests, including his own deal with big Pharma. He could ask why tort reform has not been on the agenda. He could admit he was overwrought by his own rhetoric of fierce urgency: That demanding such fundamental change in so short a time with so little scrutiny was… yes, delusional. He could apologize for his mistakes. He’s done it often enough on behalf of the whole country, so why not?

The President’s original, urgent deadline for remaking 1/6th of the economy via a 1,000 page bill he outsourced to Nancy Pelosi and that nobody had time to read, much less consider, was “before the August recess.” He felt no need to be prescriptive, or even forthcoming, then. So, NOW he’s going to explain what should have been in the bill he didn’t understand himself, but wanted forced through in July?

Why are we supposed to care now what Obama thinks about health care? He would have been overjoyed if the entire health care system had been remade in the image of Nancy Pelosi’s ideals in July. He would have been quite satisfied if no one had ever read the legislation. In fact, he would have preferred it. So we’re supposed to believe he cares what’s in a future bill? He was willing to hang us out to dry 2 months ago, what’s changed except he’s had some blowback?

Now I know what he meant

…in the “Just Words” speech.

The following are also apropos of Paladin’s post on meaning yesterday. All are comments on out President.

Inappropriate Words
Mark Steyn

…the loss of accepted language — that “wars” are “won” by “defeating” “enemies” — is a big part of the problem.

We’ve Got Company

Obama deploys the euphemism treadmill as a weapon of war.
James Taranto

The one shortcoming in this semantic offensive is that the Obama administration does not seem to have put forward a euphemism for “enemy combatant.”

Then, there’s the economic roller coaster Obama has been riding.

The Economy: Sound After All!

John Hinderaker

Do you think Obama will apologize to McCain for his conduct during the campaign?

And I thought Bill Clinton was the Caterpillar.

But then, he didn’t inhale.

Saved At last!

Yesterday, President Obama assured us that the economic Catastrophe™! he thought we faced, just a month ago, is over: Obama: Economic crisis ‘not as bad as we think’

It’s not as bad as he thought, nor even as bad as he told us to think it was. This is good news from someone who’s been instrumental in the public perception of another Great Depression. It must be that the trillion dollar Porkulus bill, written by Nancy Pelosi, and passed immediately without anyone in Congress actually knowing what was in it, turned the trick in just a month. Now that the President has been able to assemble an extended spending strategy based on a $1.75 trillion deficit “budget” in the first year of his “administration,” we’re good.

The POTUS settles comfortably into socializing health care, raising taxes on small business, reducing charitable contributions and imposing an economy killing tax increase through a carbon cap-and-trade system the EU has proved doesn’t work. Everything is looking a lot rosier than when he was panicking a month ago – or at least feigning panic in order to secure that “budget” opportunity.

Obama is also solidly behind denying workers the right to a secret ballot because that will provide significant benefits to labor union leaders (there will actually be fewer workers). Union driven cost increases to business, small and large, is another Pretty Pony on Obama’s horizon.

So, here is at least one instance where The One is wrong. The things that would have worked themselves out are not going to be allowed to. The more of his agenda that succeeds, the more all of us will fail; especially including the temporary beneficiaries. The Veep gave an example of this to open the meeting:

Vice President Joe Biden opened the meeting by warning state officials that if they misuse [?] money from the stimulus package, they should not expect more help from the federal government for a long time.

“If we don’t get this right, folks, this is the end of the ability to convince Congress that anything should go to the states,” Biden said.

Joe Biden is the guy who predicted a 30% chance of failure no matter what they did. I guess that’s because, left to their own devices, the states might not invest enough in tattoo removal or the protection of small rodents.