Obamacare would already be law, if not for you stupid Americans
posted at 11:34 am on July 28, 2009 by Karl
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.