Green Room

Obamacare would already be law, if not for you stupid Americans

posted at 11:34 am on July 28, 2009 by

Public support for a government takeover of the US healthcare system continues to decline. The House Democratic leadership is looking for someone to blame, aside from themselves. The establishment media seems to be picking a scapegoat — us (and them):

While viewers may seize upon numbers that indicate the size and scope of reforming health care — 47 million uninsured Americans or costs in the trillion-dollar range — most eyes glaze over when terms like “public option” or “bundled payments” get tossed around on the air.

“It’s not only not a cable TV-friendly story; it’s not a journalism-friendly story,” said John Harwood, chief Washington correspondent for CNBC.

Harwood, also a political writer for The New York Times, explained that reporters need to first understand the intricacies and nuances of health care policy before they can then try getting the story across to viewers and readers. Last week, Harwood said, he was “trying to get [his] head around the issue of cost control” before penning a Times column.

“It’s incredibly complex to try and explain to people,” Harwood said.

“The problem with health care is that it’s so big and so complicated that the public is never really going to understand all the moving parts of this,” NPR health policy correspondent Julie Rovner said on air Wednesday.

“So the public is really always going to be sort of amenable, if you will, to demagoguery and arguments one way or the other that don’t necessarily link to what the substance is,” Rovner continued. “We saw this during the Clinton efforts.”

It would be easy to dismiss this attitude as the rank partisan bias of the lapdog press. But perhaps we should take Rovner’s “one way or another” seriously. After all, if Obamacare was smoothly sailing through Congress, folks on the Right might well be griping that the public does not understand a public plan will hide its administrative costs in the federal budget, or that preventive care generally does not save money, and that people are being swayed by the sad stories in the letters Pres. Obama allegedly reads every day (and that CNN’s John King is busy covering for the fair and balanced CNN).

The question remains: Why aren’t Americans being swayed by the demagoguery of the Left?

The answer may be that even those Americans not steeped in the arcana of healthcare policy know enough to spot obvious chicanery. When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that healthcare reform means a cap on your costs, but no cap on your benefits, most Americans can smell the horse manure. Most Americans know their government well enough to know it is not in the fishes and loaves business.

Accordingly when they hear that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office scores the House bill as a fiscal disaster, they tend to believe it. Indeed, even establishment outlets like the Washington Post and Newsweek now run op-eds essentially accusing Pres. Obama of misleading people on this basic point. As Pres. Obama, following the preponderance of the polling, has sold a government takeover as a way to cut healthcare costs, which now bothers Lefty bloggers like Ezra Klein:

Ask yourself what the administration’s one-line goal is on health-care reform. Is it “equal treatment for everybody?” Is it “if every American is guaranteed a lawyer, why not a doctor?” Is it even “guaranteed health care for everyone?”

No. It’s “bend the curve.” And the problem with “bending the curve” is that it’s a broadly testable proposition. This is, in part, why the Congressional Budget Office’s skeptical assessments pose such a threat to health-care reform. If the White House’s primary objective was health care for every American, or guaranteed care that you could keep even if you lost your job, or choice of insurance plans for every American, you could spend a bit more on health care and say you were achieving your goal. But if you say that the point of health-care reform is to save money, and then the outfit charged with estimating such things says it won’t, that strikes at the heart of the project.

Mary Katharine Ham succinctly calls it an “entire justification FAIL.”

That realization is the first step of the “internal Q&A” described by Peggy Noonan:

Will whatever health care bill is produced by Congress increase the deficit? “Of course.” Will it mean tax increases? “Of course.” Will it mean new fees or fines? “Probably.” Can I afford it right now? “No, I’m already getting clobbered.” Will it make the marketplace freer and better? “Probably not.” Is our health care system in crisis? “Yeah, it has been for years.” Is it the most pressing crisis right now? “No, the economy is.” Will a health-care bill improve the economy? “I doubt it.”

Rasmussen’s polling of likely voters tends to prove Noonan accurate on virttually every point.

Most Americans may not be policy wonks. But most Americans do understand that if you greatly increase the number of people with insurance, demand and price will usually increase. And most Americans understand that artificial price controls tend to produce decreases in quality. In an environment where the overwhelming majority have health insurance and are generally satisfied with their care, these basic perceptions have been trumping the demagoguery of the Left.

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I just noticed that there is a White House Office of Health Reform, obviously we aren’t getting our tax dollars worth.

I just love how the press always thinks all Americans are dumb, unless they are Bill Mahar like.

hmfearny on July 28, 2009 at 12:08 PM

I think you can basically call this the “Plan 9 from Outer Space” theory about pointing blame for the crumbling health care support. With John Harwood in the role of Eros.

jon1979 on July 28, 2009 at 12:46 PM

This is funny. Hotair should track the find the villian/excuses why Obama can’t accomplish anything post. Because this is going to happen repeatedly. Nothing will be Obama’s fault. Forget that he is not a real leader, we just aren’t informed enough to follow it…

Theworldisnotenough on July 28, 2009 at 12:56 PM

That number keeps going up. First it was 30 million, then 40, then 45, and now 47. Soon we’ll hear that fully half of Americans are uninsured.

strictnein on July 28, 2009 at 1:58 PM

And yet I am not feeling the least bit guilty. As a matter of fact I think I will double my efforts.

Cindy Munford on July 28, 2009 at 6:00 PM

Keep up the pressure…

t on July 28, 2009 at 6:01 PM

That number keeps going up. First it was 30 million, then 40, then 45, and now 47. Soon we’ll hear that fully half of Americans are uninsured.

strictnein on July 28, 2009 at 1:58 PM

They keep counting 12 million illegals. They also count 10 million people who make over $75,000 and don’t buy health care. And then about another 10 million are already eligible for other government run healthcare programs (SCHIP, MediCare, MediCaid and the VA programs)….so that REALLY leaves about 15 Million with no health insurance. That does not mean that 15 million get no health care. Why destroy the best healthcare system in the world for the want of covering 15 million people? The government could reform MediCare and include the truly needy. The government really needs to fix their internal house before wrecking ours.

izoneguy on July 28, 2009 at 6:02 PM

Keep up the pressure…

t on July 28, 2009 at 6:01 PM

Amen. Suspect the Dems may have put up this terrible bill in order to make a less terrible one palatable. Sort of like the girl who calls home from college and says she is dropping out, pregnant and running off with her boyfriend. Then tells them she was just kidding but she got an D in Calculus.
Don’t let Congress pass anything where the govt. intrudes on health care more than they already have. I just got on Medicare — I get less coverage now and pay more for it and because of Medicare, my company insurance is no longer covering me except for expensive supplemental insurance and they even forced my wife into a new policy and she’s not a senior. You know that employers will do the same thing wherever the govt. expands it’s health care tentacles.

Christian Conservative on July 28, 2009 at 6:12 PM

Obamacare: If you just ignore everything you know about human nature…then maybe…with enough government force applied to those who won’t play ball right away, it works, in theory. Just eliminate all the alternatives, and people will flock to it. That’s the solution.

RBMN on July 28, 2009 at 6:15 PM

“The problem with health care is that it’s so big and so complicated that the public is never really going to understand all the moving parts of this,” NPR health policy correspondent Julie Rovner said on air Wednesday.

Well Duh… how about fixing small easy to understand parts in each of many bills spread out over several years, if necessary. People will support what they understand. Trying to fix something that equates to 1/6th of the US economy in one bill … in one month is … well “just stupid.”

Ghostbuster on July 28, 2009 at 6:19 PM

I don’t want the government taking over any more of the private sector, making any more decisions for me, taxing me more, or coercing me any more than they already do.

I don’t need to waste much time looking at the policy details on this one – it stinks.

forest on July 28, 2009 at 6:19 PM

i’d like to comment but there’s no time. must turn on bill maher so he can tell me again that my country is stupid

billypaintbrush on July 28, 2009 at 6:20 PM

As Pres. Obama, following the preponderance of the polling, has sold a government takeover as a way to cut healthcare costs, which now bothers Lefty bloggers like Ezra Klein:
Ask yourself what the administration’s one-line goal is on health-care reform. Is it “equal treatment for everybody?” Is it “if every American is guaranteed a lawyer, why not a doctor?” Is it even “guaranteed health care for everyone?”
No. It’s “bend the curve.” And the problem with “bending the curve” is that it’s a broadly testable proposition. This is, in part, why the Congressional Budget Office’s skeptical assessments pose such a threat to health-care reform. If the White House’s primary objective was health care for every American, or guaranteed care that you could keep even if you lost your job, or choice of insurance plans for every American, you could spend a bit more on health care and say you were achieving your goal. But if you say that the point of health-care reform is to save money, and then the outfit charged with estimating such things says it won’t, that strikes at the heart of the project.

Let the record clearly show that earlier, Mr. Klein was wholly buying the argument that creating a new health care entitlement was the very embodiment of fiscal rectitude.

http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/ezraklein_archive?month=02&year=2009&base_name=whos_afraid_of_the_fiscal_resp

The money paragraph:

You’ll notice that Orszag says “health care,” not “Medicaid and Medicare.” The Obama administration believes that the entitlement problem is a health care entitlement problem, and the health care entitlement problem is a health care system problem. And so the focus now is on health care reform: The fiscal responsibility summit will be used, in part, to make this argument. In Obama’s Washington, a plan to cut Social Security is no longer enough to qualify you as “fiscally responsible.” You need an answer to the Medicare and Medicaid questions, which means you need an answer to the health care system. We will see the beginnings of the White House’s answer — an answer that has required a series of decisions by President Obama himself — when the budget emerges next Thursday. That, and not Monday’s summit, is where the nature of the administration’s commitment to fiscal responsibility will come clear.

Well, he got that last sentence right, anyway.

Look, from the beginning health care reform was sold as the essence of fiscal and budgetary reform. Now, apparently, groundless claims of budgetary savings don’t seem to have been such a swell idea.

Chuckles3 on July 28, 2009 at 6:23 PM

Rasmussen’s polling of likely voters tends to prove Noonan accurate on virttually every point.

Give us an effin break! Noonan did invent the obvious.

Blake on July 28, 2009 at 6:30 PM

Nancy Pelosi says that healthcare reform means a cap on your costs, but no cap on your benefits, most Americans can smell the horse manure.

Partially because we all are a little suspicious of anyone consistently trying to talk to us wearing a stiff flesh-mask.

But, that’s mean of me…

Mommypundit on July 28, 2009 at 6:34 PM

I blame Bush

NoFanofLibs on July 28, 2009 at 6:38 PM

Has Obama blamed the JJJJOOOOOOOOssssss yet?

And yet they continue to vote Dem.

Like voting for Nazis.

Sapwolf on July 28, 2009 at 6:42 PM

Or, will Obama blame the Japs?

FDR threw them in camps, even those who were US citizens.

Sapwolf on July 28, 2009 at 6:46 PM

Dammit, the issue isn’t complicated at all. A majority of Americans are well aware of how incompetent, inefficient and corrupt the government is and they instinctively realize how bad state run health care would be. Plus most Americans want to take care of their own health care, it’s as simple as that. Too complicated my ass…this is just another example of the contempt that smug, offensive liberals have for the common man.

I’ve known a few old socialists in my time. Every single one of them has been angry, bitter and twisted and has held the opinion that the general public are too stupid to realize that the socialists can solve all of their problems. As young socialists they have a very romantic view of “the workers” and arrogantly presume that they’d be extremely grateful to anyone who took up their cause and fought for them against the evil of capitalism. But the workers don’t want to live as ants in a socialist ant hill, they want independence and the freedom to climb the economic ladder of their own volition. They want to become property owners. They want to start their own businesses and make a profit. This eats away at the socialist over the years to the point where they hold the common man in more contempt than the capitalists.

Sharke on July 28, 2009 at 6:51 PM

Kind of reminds me of John Kerry’s comment that if you don’t go to college and get an education, you end up in Iraq.

Of course, poor John Kerry didn’t know that we don’t have a draft anymore, but that was irrelavant.

Star20 on July 28, 2009 at 7:39 PM

Here is another look @ the 47M………http://www.manlyrash.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/ramirez-47-million-uninsured.jpg

t on July 28, 2009 at 7:41 PM

I love being told how stupid I am that I could never comprehend healthcare were in not for the likes of a bunch of media lemmings.

redfoxbluestate on July 28, 2009 at 8:14 PM

<blockquote“It’s incredibly complex to try and explain to people,” Harwood said.

Translation:
“It’s incredibly complex to try and understand because I am just a Democrat hack, and I think I know best what people need” Harwood said.

Sporty1946 on July 28, 2009 at 9:11 PM

Let’s see… I’m forty and have been gainfully employed every year since 1989, 20 years. I’ve also had health insurance ever since despite having 5 employers over that time. I think I’ve done OK in making good health care coverage choices without Uncle Sam’s help.

MarkABinVA on July 28, 2009 at 9:41 PM

I READ the bill. That’s why I’m against it, you elitist, presumptuous prick.

Texas74 on July 28, 2009 at 10:42 PM

Is our health care system in crisis? “Yeah, it has been for years.”

If you want to be technically accurate, the answer to that question is “Yeah, the people who want the government to take it over have been telling us that for years.”

Polls show something like 80 percent of those with health insurance are satisfied with the way it works. Like many other issues, if you ask somebody, they say things are going pretty well for them, but they hear on the news that it sucks for everyone else.

tbrosz on July 28, 2009 at 11:42 PM

“It’s incredibly complex to try and explain to BS people”

Maybe if it could somehow possibly be true that spending billions/trillions of dollars could somehow save money, it wouldn’t be THAT hard to try and sell the idea to people.

What IS hard, and getting harder with every power grab, is convincing people to just sit back and accept that Gov. knows best. Maybe that worked with banks, and to a lesser extent with cars. Maybe it even worked (less and less) regarding cap & trade, but each passing power grab is causing the American people to not accept “Because I’m your mommy and I said so, that’s why” as an answer any more.
Health care could be the tipping point. We’ll just have to see.

DrAllecon on July 28, 2009 at 11:48 PM

One question:

Name one health program now completely or partially administered by the Federal Government that is being run so efficiently that it delivers good care and at the same time, saves the taxpayers money?

In the pointed phraseology of the blogosphere, “crickets chirping”.

vnjagvet on July 28, 2009 at 11:55 PM

It’s always complicated to control things. The Soviet Union tried to control farming. That was complicated and the result was massive starvation and incredible waste of resources. If the government took over grocery stores, they would find that complicated as well as legions of government bureacrats try to decide where to ship oatmeal in order to meet the demand.

As Milton Friedman pointed out: no one can make a pencil. You need someone to harvest the wood and the graphite, crete the metal clip to hold the eraser, harvest and cure the rubber for the eraser, etc. etc. A whole government bureacracy could not make a single, cheap, usable pencil. Yet, pencils get made.

The cure to the health care problem is not more control, because it can’t be controlled. The cure is less control and allow more individual choice. If people who were receiving the health care were the same people who were paying directly for the health care, the resources of the health care industry would be used more efficiently – just like they are in every other industry. It’s when you separate the purchaser from the consumer that you end up with chaos.

PackerBronco on July 29, 2009 at 12:44 AM

I think the regular folks out here had this healthcare thing figured out before the CBO ever weighed in. The only ones they shocked were the Dems in Congress and the Prez — whether it was the magnitude of the FAIL, or the fact that anyone would publicly contradict the White House, same diff.

JM Hanes on July 29, 2009 at 2:26 AM

Let’s keep a close eye on these “moderate” Republicans in the Senate that they don’t come up with some kind of “bipartisan” gobblygook that throws the Democrats a lifeline. From what I’ve read they are headed in the same direction on Medicare as the House on ObamaCare — create an independent commission to “save costs”. The CBO has already said that will result in almost no savings, but the AP etc is acting like this is some sort of breakthrough. The only reason I can think of that the AP would do that is that they are desperate to find their way out of the corner the liberals have painted their way into and see the Republicans as stupid enough to join in some kind of meaningless Kumbayafest they can label “bipartisan”.

Of course if we are lucky the left will kill any compromise by itself, leaving the Republicans looking cooperative. But we’ve seen Republicans pull this “my good friend” BS before and it merits close watching by conservatives that we don’t wake up to some kind of centrist coalition selling us down the drain.

DaMav on July 29, 2009 at 2:48 AM

Thank God Obambi and Congress are willing to allow me to be just as ignorant on this subject as they are,i’m all in/sarc.

heshtesh on July 29, 2009 at 7:23 AM

Much of the complexity problem is that proponents of the health care bill conflate the putative beneficial effects of the bill with what the bill mandates. Toss in the various justifications offered for the bill in the first place (uninsured Americans, high costs, overbilling etc.), and you have a quagmire.

Bill Ramey on July 31, 2009 at 2:10 PM