Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A review of Obama's speech.

Powerline I think has the most detailed analysis of the speech, so here's a few quotations from it.

One striking aspect of the speech was that Obama kept talking about the "plan" that he "announced" tonight--but there is no plan; not in writing, anyway.


Here are some excerpts from the speech that I thought were noteworthy:

Instead of honest debate, we have seen scare tactics.

Then, a few minutes later:

Everyone in this room knows what will happen if we do nothing. Our deficit will grow. More families will go bankrupt. More businesses will close. More Americans will lose their coverage when they are sick and need it most. And more will die as a result.

By far the biggest scaremonger on this issue has been Obama himself.

Well the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed.

I'm not sure whether Obama and his handlers understand how this sort of talk grates on those of us who are not liberal Democrats (a large majority of the country). Debating public policy issues is not "bickering." Disagreeing with a proposal to radically change one of the largest sectors of our economy is not a "game." This kind of gratuitous insult--something we never heard from President Bush, for example--is one of the reasons why many consider Obama to be mean-spirited.

I assume most people noticed how, in tonight's speech, Obama's assurance that we will not lose our present insurance coverage has been scaled back. This was after thousands of critics pointed out that under the Democrats' proposals, many people (more than 100 million according to some estimates) will in fact lose the insurance coverage they now have.


Consider the analogy to life insurance: could a dying, 90-year-old person expect an insurance company to issue him a million dollar life insurance policy? Maybe, but it would cost close to a million dollars. Why can life insurance companies sell policies at rates that people consider reasonable? Only because they are insuring against premature death, and the insured has been paying premiums for many years, during most of which time there was little risk of his dying. The same principle applies, pretty closely, to health insurance.

Some of people's concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.

No, it isn't. The Democrats' bill doesn't call the agencies it sets up "death panels," it says they will decide on "best practices." But any socialized medicine scheme saves money by rationing care. Who gets shorted, the politically powerful? No, of course not; the elderly and those who are otherwise helpless. In the United Kingdom, the death panel goes by the Orwellian acronym "NICE."

As Steven Green says in his much breifer but more colorful "drunkblog" of the speech:
5:32PM Correction: Preventative care does save lives, but it costs more money, not less. Nothing costs less than a dead patient. Don’t forget that. Ever.

Give his account a read too.

Back to Powerline

In fact, Obama and Congressional Democrats have zero interest in increasing choice and competition. If they did, there is an easy solution. There are over 1,000 health insurance companies in the United States; why do you think it is that in Alabama, one company has 90 percent of the business? It is because there are major legal obstacles to insurance companies operating across state lines. State legislatures, and lots of the companies, like it this way. Competition is hard. But if Obama really wanted to expand "choice and competition" in health care, all he would have to do is go along with the Republican proposal to allow health insurance companies to sell on a national basis. Like, say, computer companies, beer companies, automobile companies, law firms, and pretty much everyone else. The Democrats' refusal to allow existing health insurance companies to compete against each other nationwide, more than anything else, puts the lie to their nonsense about "choice and competition."

Now, I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business.

Really? We've all seen the YouTube video where Obama says that under his plan, private health insurance will be driven into extinction over a period of ten to twenty years. Has he changed his mind? When? Why? Does President Obama fail to understand the ubiquity of YouTube? Does he not understand that many millions of Americans consider him a liar when he says things like this?

Emphasis added. And its interesting that such a "tech savy" and "skilled communicator" forgets that his past statements can be called up and directly contrasted with what he's saying now. How stupid does he think we are?

Is it churlish to point out that profits are not overhead? It might be if this were just a slip of the tongue on the stump. But this was a speech that was carefully crafted by Obama and his top advisers. They really do not know the first thing about business or economics. So why should we put them in charge of our economy?

I want to speak directly to America's seniors for a moment, because Medicare is another issue that's been subjected to demagoguery and distortion during the course of this debate.

Actually, the administration has said that around half the cost of the plan, $500 billion, would be paid for by cuts in Medicare. So it isn't exactly "demagoguery and distortion" to suggest that there might be cuts in Medicare.

And some wonder why there's a lack of trust in the intentions and competence of government.

But wait! If we can identify hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud in Medicare and Medicaid and we know how to eliminate it, why haven't we done so already? Why don't we do so--right now!--regardless of the administration's highly controversial health care bill?

There is no possible answer to these questions. The Obama plan--whatever it is, once reduced to writing--depends for most of its financing on the bare assertion that we are currently wasting hundreds of billions of dollars, and that we will stop wasting that money only if taxpayers knuckle under to Obamacare.

So the takeaway message is "Shut up" Stop pointing out the flaws in the "Plan" stop questioning the government, stop "bickering" Just Shut up.

Where have we heard that before?


Keith said...

Not quite done reading this post. I agree with some points - Obama's scaremongering is damaging to debate; but there has definitely been non-productive posturing on both sides.

I understand you don't like gratuitous insults from Obama, such as taking the need for revamping health as a forgone conclusion. However, I will quibble with you when you say that Bush did not offer similar. I've frequently watched him and thought: "did he really just say that, with his bare face hanging out?".

I favor a single-payer system, or a clean-up of the existing system; this Frankenstein nightmare that seems to be coming out is doomed.

Nonetheless, Obama scares me, and I'm also scared of what will come next.

Our information stream is so polluted now I don't know what to think. Flipping rapidly between the Huffington Post and Glenn Beck doesn't really help.

Keith said...

The executive branch is just way too strong, and has been for quite a while.