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September 09, 2009

Five Lies Obama Will Tell Tonight

The President's speech tonight to Congress isn't likely to turn the healthcare debate around. For starters, we've already heard this speech—twice from him and innumerable times from his subordinates.

More than that, we already have a pretty good idea of the lies he will tell along the way. Most Americans—at least, the Americans who will watch this speech—are already familiar with these lies. And they already know our rebuttal. Still, it is to our benefit to point them out for any middle-ground squishes who haven't caught on to the President's game yet.

So here are my predictions of the five grossest untruths the President will tell Congress tonight as he trys to convince them—and the watching Americans—to let him cripple our health care industry:

(5) The President will say that there are 42 (or 47; it changes) million uninsured Americans. This one has been heard so often and debunked so often it's just white noise. In fact, this number vastly overstates the numbers of people who are in need of health insurance. It includes some wealthy folks who choose not to buy insurance. It includes the young—college students, mostly—who choose not to buy insurance. It includes the elderly, who are eligible for Medicare, but who haven't signed up because they're not sick yet. And it includes the poor, who are eligible for Medicaid, but who don't know it. It may also include some aliens unlawfully present in the United States.

So this number—42 million—isn't the rallying cry the President would like it to be. Can you imagine him up there saying, "We need a public option for the wealthy! We need a public option for illegal aliens!" It's farcical.

(4) The President will say that his plan is "deficit neutral." This sounds nice, but it is a bare-faced lie. None of the five proposals kicked around Congress has been deficit neutral—at least, not in the first decade. Even when they are supposed to be deficit neutral—ten years or more from now—they probably won't be because they rely on wild-assed guesses about revenue from phased-in taxes on "cadillac healthcare plans" and capped tax deductions for individuals above a certain income level.

So the plans overestimate the revenue ten years down the road. They also likely underestimate the true cost of health care reform. Look at how far off projections Romneycare went. The President has gone on at length about the savings he expects to find by reducing waste, abuse, and fraud. If that money was really there, we'd already have squeezed it out of Medicare and Medicaid.

So he's going to say "deficit neutral" and we should point and laugh. It's not going to be deficit neutral. It's going to cost more than expected and the tax increases to make it deficit neutral are going to generate less revenue than expected. The only proposed plans that would be deficit neutral have been Republican plans or the suggestion of folks like the Whole Foods CEO.

Remember, the point of Obamacare isn't to be deficit neutral. He's going to be long off the stage when the bill comes due. The point of the President's healthcare reform is to put his name in the history books as the second FDR.

(3) The President will identify some "bad guys" in his speech, probably Republicans and the health insurance industry. Maybe tonsil-stealing, foot-amputating doctors, too. Whichever bad guys he goes with tonight, this will be his bogus claim about the people opposing health care reform. He will accuse them of going after profit at the expense of the little guy. He will portray them as standing athwart progress. He will, with great pomposity and gravity, assure his listeners that he is not going to allow that.

In fact, the Democrats have vast majorities in both houses of Congress. If they had wanted to ram healthcare reform through, they could have. At first, they didn't actually want to do it that way because they thought it would be nice to have Republican cover. Now they aren't doing it because I suspect they don't have the votes; they've lost Democrats.

Either way, it's not Republicans, insurers, or doctors who are holding this up. It is Democrats who realize that their constituents aren't going to be pleased by the President's attempt to cripple the health care industry.

(2) The President will say that Republicans and his health care reform opponents don't have a plan. He does this frequently. In fact, he did this Monday. He said that we want the status quo. This is patently false. The Republicans have issued a proposed framework and they have been batting around reform proposals.

Now, it's true that doing nothing would be better than the Democratic proposals. But Republicans think they can do even better than that, by making individual plans tax deductible (just like employer-bought plans) and by making them portable.

And the number one, most outrageous, most likely to set my hair on fire lie Obama will tell tonight:

(1) The President will say that the public option won't be subsidized. He's going to try and reassure people that the public option isn't a trojan horse for single-payer. And he's going to do it by saying idiotic things like "it will give people more choices when it comes to selecting healthcare" and it will "provide competition for profit-driven insurers."

It is this second point that requires the lie. Everyone—even the most retarded Democratic congressman who forgets to wipe up his chin drool—knows that if the public option is subsidized at all it will not provide true competition for the private insurance market. So he will lie and say that it won't be subsidized.

This. Is. A. Lie. There is simply no way that the President or the Democrats will allow the public option to fail once it has been established. When it starts operating in the red—and it will—the Democrats will subsidize it. They will say, "Oh, we can't take people's insurance away now and we can't raise premiums for all these people!"

More than that, four of the five bills passed by congressional committees have included individual mandates and subsidies for those who cannot afford to pay for health insurance. A large portion—not all, but probably most—of the people who receive these subsidies will make a bee-line for the public option. Which means that taxpayers will be paying for someone else's government-provided healthcare. This is Medicare and Medicaid by another name.

To sum up: the President is going to fib tonight. A lot. Don't let him get away with it. Talk about it with your friends and coworkers. Send email to your congresscritters. Go to a tea party or a town hall or a Whole foods "buycott."

Also, remember that it's not just about the public option.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 11:44 AM

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