Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Washington, DC: Chicago on the Potomac
and the Land of Make Believe
Commentary by James H. Shott
The Land of Make Believe. Those words form the title of a great song and the name of some amusement parks. But they also describe President Barack Obama’s perception of the health care reform process.
Mr. Obama recently announced from The Land of Make Believe that all of the objections to the health care reform plan have been heard: "This is another milestone on what has been a long, hard road toward health insurance reform. In recent months, we’ve heard every side of every argument from both sides of the aisle."
He is right about one thing: Many arguments against the dangerous features of the dominant Democrat proposals have been voiced. But our elected leaders had their fingers in their ears so they couldn’t hear them.
"The approach that is emerging includes the best ideas from Republicans and Democrats, and people across the political spectrum," Mr. Obama continued.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is manifestly false. The best ideas of Republicans have been rejected out of hand, such as medical liability reform to encourage speedy resolution of claims, and deter junk lawsuits that drive up the cost of care; letting families and businesses buy insurance across state lines; that individuals, small businesses and other groups should be able to join together to get health insurance at lower prices, the same way large businesses and labor unions do; and that insurers should be able to offer incentives for wellness care and prevention. These beneficial and practical ideas are regrettably absent from the several radical Democrat plans.
"In fact, what’s remarkable is not that we’ve had a spirited debate about health insurance reform,” the president continued, “but the unprecedented consensus that has come together behind it," including the nation’s doctors and nurses.
Well, no. Some doctors and some nurses support the Democrat proposals, but not nearly most doctors and nurses.
A White House Rose Garden meeting with doctors was touted as a summit of physicians. While the doctors looked impressive in their spiffy white lab coats, it was an invitation-only event of doctors who were and are Obama supporters. This Chicago-style propaganda is what the president terms “consensus.”
Now, it is true that the American Medical Association supports the president’s vague plans to reform the health care system, but it does so despite the fact that some of the most important of its seven critical elements of reform are ignored in the various Democrat plans. The AMA’s support does not mean that most doctors support the plan, because only about 20 percent of practicing physicians are members of the AMA. The truth: most doctors oppose the reform measures.
A poll of more than 1,300 randomly selected practicing physicians conducted by mail by Investor’s Business Daily and TechnoMetrica Institute of Policy and Politics found that 65 percent of participants oppose reform measures and, far worse, some 45 percent said they will consider leaving the practice of medicine if Democrat reform measures become law.
Having willfully distorted the support of physicians, Mr. Obama next proudly announced the support of two former Republican Senate Majority Leaders: Bob Dole and Dr. Bill Frist.
This, too, stretches truth past the breaking point. Bill Frist supports certain aspects of the reform effort, but there are several he doesn’t support. He thinks, for example, that reform proposals don’t do nearly enough to bring costs under control, and believes the plans would fall far short of providing universal coverage, leaving millions out.
Bob Dole’s support is also equivocal: He said that he “supported the Democrats’ attempt to overhaul the health care system.” (Emphasis added.) He and former Democrat leader Tom Daschle issued a joint statement that said, in part: “The current approaches suggested by the Congress are far from perfect, but they do provide some basis on which Congress can move forward.” (Emphasis added.)
So, while the president plays fast and loose with the truth, many Americans believe him when he says that there is bi-partisan consensus, despite their natural suspicion of the health care reform measures. That is a highly dishonest tactic. One vote by one Republican on one measure in one committee of one house of Congress does not a consensus make.
The president’s comments are the sort of deliberate distortion and outright misstatement of fact that prompted South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson to shout an unkind comment at Mr. Obama during the address to the Congress not long ago. Rep. Wilson’s behavior was wrong, and he expressed regret for it.
The president, on the other hand, misrepresents the truth with impunity and without shame or regret and, indeed, is ably assisted in his deception by a compliant, discredited and dishonest national media that has replaced its professional ethics with adoration for and allegiance to the person who, more than any other individual, ought to be the focus of its objective scrutiny.
The health care reform “plan” is a bunch of bad ideas cobbled together with duct tape and bailing wire, with the reluctant participation of insurers and providers pressured into subservience by the threat of something far worse if they don’t get on board.
This is the hope and change we elected last November.
Cross-posted from Observations