I left this one out of last week’s Obamateurisms, and Jim Treacher demands justice — so consider this a belated recognition of a classic fumble by Barack Obama. In his appearance at a “greenhouse” in support of his overhaul of the American health-care system, Obama tried to assure Americans that a government system could compete with private health insurers and not drive them out of business. However, the one example he could use will not put anyone’s mind at ease who worries about competence and efficiency:

Now, the only thing that I have said is that having a public option in that menu would provide competition for insurance companies to keep them honest.

Now, I recognize, though, you make a legitimate — you raise a legitimate concern. People say, well, how can a private company compete against the government? And my answer is that if the private insurance companies are providing a good bargain, and if the public option has to be self-sustaining — meaning taxpayers aren’t subsidizing it, but it has to run on charging premiums and providing good services and a good network of doctors, just like any other private insurer would do — then I think private insurers should be able to compete. They do it all the time. (Applause.)

I mean, if you think about — if you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? No, they are. It’s the Post Office that’s always having problems. (Laughter.)

Seriously? Obama wants to reassure us that the government can handle health care by using the Post Office as an example? Oh,that will certainly impress anyone who’s had to wait in line for service at the Post Office.  Just think this: Dr. Cliff Clavin.

And even putting aside the jokes, the comparison shows just about everything that’s wrong with having government operate at all in the private sector.  The only reason the USPS remains in business is because it has a monopoly on first-class mail.  It routinely runs in the red and has to rely on its government mandate to stay in business.  The reason UPS and FedEx can remain in business against it is because even with the subsidy of its first-class mail monopoly, it can’t operate efficiently enough to bury parcel competition.

Right now, the Post Office is contemplating a greater rationing of its services in order to save money, specifically by reducing delivery days from six to five and closing a significant number of its locations.  Pay attention, because ObamaCare will do the same thing when it also costs a lot more money than predicted.

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

Addendum: I have been running a reminder of Chris Muir’s fundraising drive for his Day by Day site here — Chris does the illustrations for the Obamateurism series — and today I can announce that Chris made his goal for the next year.  Thanks for all your help in keeping Chris and his insight in the fight for us!

Tags: Barack Obama