In a story sure to do some damage to the planned Obama road show this week to gin up support for the newly passed Obamacare, the Associated Press reported late last night that President Barack Obama has been explicitly misstating the immediate benefits of the Obamacare statutory language regarding insurer coverage of children’s pre-existing conditions. Specifically, Obama’s claim, as repeated many times over the past week and as recently as Saturday by the President, that insurance companies will immediately be forced to provide insurance to any child with a pre-existing condition is actually false:
Under the new law, insurance companies still would be able to refuse new coverage to children because of a pre-existing medical problem, said Karen Lightfoot, spokeswoman for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, one of the main congressional panels that wrote the bill President Barack Obama signed into law Tuesday.
However, if a child is accepted for coverage, or is already covered, the insurer cannot exclude payment for treating a particular illness, as sometimes happens now. For example, if a child has asthma, the insurance company cannot write a policy that excludes that condition from coverage. The new safeguard will be in place later this year.
In recent speeches, Obama has given the impression that the immediate benefit for kids is much more robust.
Full protection for children would not come until 2014, said Kate Cyrul, a spokeswoman for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, another panel that authored the legislation. That’s the same year when insurance companies could no longer deny coverage to any person on account of health problems.
The AP continues to describe the false claims made by Obama in the past few days:
Obama’s public statements conveyed the impression that the new protections for kids were sweeping and straightforward.
“This is a patient’s bill of rights on steroids,” the president said Friday at George Mason University in Virginia. “Starting this year, thousands of uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions will be able to purchase health insurance, some for the very first time. Starting this year, insurance companies will be banned forever from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.”
And Saturday, addressing House Democrats as they approached a make-or-break vote on the bill, Obama said: “This year … parents who are worried about getting coverage for their children with pre-existing conditions now are assured that insurance companies have to give them coverage – this year.”
While the AP is obviously sympathetic to the President, and attempts to avoid directly calling the President a liar, the fact that Obama has specifically claimed that “starting this year, insurance companies will be banned forever from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions” while the actual language of the Obamacare bill he signed into law does not provide those new benefits until 2014 cannot be described in any other way than a lie. This is especially so because the statutory language of the Senate bill has been set in stone since the Christmas Eve vote by the Senate. One can only imagine the ferocity of the establishment media’s coverage if the name of the misleading President was Bush instead of Obama.
As the establishment media is so wedded to supporting the President, it is likely that the oft-repeated Obama lie about children’s pre-existing conditions will receive only limited coverage. The fact that the White House staff and President were apparently so clueless as to the actual statutory language of their own signature initiative indicates a level of incompetence that should be troubling to every American. Moving forward, Americans are left to wonder what claims about the immediate benefits to the public from Obamacare made by the President, if any, are actually truthful and which ones are either incompetently or intentionally false.
UPDATE: Hotair catches up with this CentristNet post from last night, notes that we could see a Democratic amendment in the Senate to fix this “issue” of Obama overclaiming the language of his own bill.
Obama’s speech recycles most of the misleading talking points used by Obama and the Democrats over the past year despite the debunking of such claims by objective fact-checking organizations and simple reality, as will be outlined below. Obama began by accurately stating that the Obamacare debate is really “a debate about the character of our country.” Obama then goes off the rails somewhat with this rhetoric, stating that the question of passing Obamacare is about
“Whether we can still meet the challenges of our time. Whether we still have the guts and courage to give every citizen, not just some, the chance to meet their dreams.”
In fact, Obamacare is about whether the United States will move towards a new, radically altered system of strict federal government control and oversight of the health care industry or whether the United States will continue on its present path of substantially private-run health care. The drive of Americans to meet the challenges of “our time” is of course not epitomized by a massive increase in government spending and control over the health decisions of Americans, regardless of Obama’s expertly-crafted rhetoric above. Indeed, Obamacare will fundamentally alter the character of the United States, making most American citizens reliant upon a giant federal government bureaucracy, instead of themselves, for the provision of life-saving health care, forever altering the balance between citizen and government in this country.
As the American health care system is now the envy of the world, both in terms of innovation of new cutting-edge techniques and quality, and most world leaders come here for major health care for themselves personally, taking a giant step away from our present system via the massive new federal intervention into the health care industry in Obamacare can accurately be seen as risking America’s present dominance in the health care field internationally. Of course, Obama’s speech references none of these issues nor the 80% of Americans that presently approve of their personal health care arrangements.
Obama then moves onto a familiar rhetorical trick of framing all opponents to Obamacare as insurance industry hacks, stating that we cannot “accept a system that works better for the insurance companies than the American people” while “their lobbyists are stalking the halls of congress as we speak” and that “if this vote fails, the insurance industry will continue to run amok.” These arguments are substantially false as the health insurance companies will actually benefit in part from his bill as all healthy, young Americans who presently do not waste their money on pricey, unnecessary health insurance policies will now be forced to purchase same or face an IRS penalty and enforcement of same by IRS collection efforts. Of course, Obama’s speech does not reference this penalty on individuals, nor the additionally penalty on employers who do not provide benefits, in his speech today.
So the only question left is this: are we going to let the special interest win once again? Or are we going to make this vote a victory for the American People!
This claim, of course, ignores the fact that, at best, only about 35-40% of Americans support the passage of the President’s comprehensive health care plan into law, making its coming passage hardly a “victory” for the American people, 80% of which are presently satisfied with their medical care. Also ignored by this Obama claim that his bill is being opposed by “special interests” is the fact that Obama himself has made backroom deals with the large drug companies (“Big Pharma”), American Medical Association, the hospitals, the AARP, the unions, and even some insurance companies as the past year of backroom dealmaking between the Obama Administration and special interest groups has unfolded. The level of “audacity” required to claim his bill is not backed by special interests while he himself made deals with essentially every major special interest in the health care industry during meetings in his White House is substantial and this Obama claim is quite jarring when compared to the above-referenced publicly available facts.
Obama then continues in his speech to claim, as he has many times since the summer of 2009, that “the time for reform is right now. Not a year from now, not 5 years from now not 10 years from now not 20 years from now” while noting that “we have had a year of hard debate, every proposal has been put on the table, every argument has been made, we have incorporated the best ideas from Democrats and from Republicans into a final proposal that builds on the system of private insurance that we have.” These claims, of course, ignore the fact that the Republican ideas to reduce health care costs via tort reform and allowing increased competition between insurers across state lines are ignored by his legislation and those issues also go unmentioned in Obama’s speech today.
Obama then denies that his plan is “radical change” (somewhat contradicting his earlier comments extolling the major changes to come from his bill) and states that “what we’re talking about is common sense reform, that’s all we’re talking about.” Now, Obama unleashes three of the greatest lies ever told about Obamacare:
If you like your doctor, you’ll be able to keep your doctor. If you like your plan, you’ll be able to keep your plan. Because I don’t believe we should give the government or the insurance companies more control over health care in America. I believe it’s time to give you – the American people – more control over your health insurance.
Of course, the massive federal intervention into the American health care system will lead to many Americans having their present health care arrangements substantially altered, whether by a doctor who retires rather than face the increased costs of federal control, or by the new strict federal rules that require certain benefits to be covered, or by an employer who dumps their benefits coverage and just pays the fine to avoid the hassle, or by the elimination of nearly 10 million seniors “Medicare Advantage” coverage. amongst other ways such personal health care arrangements will be altered.
As for Obama’s claim that he does not want to “give the government or the insurance companies more control over health care” and instead wanting to give the “American people” “more control” over their health insurance, such a statement simply defies all logic and available facts known about Obamacare as many new federal rules and regulations will be implemented and enforced on the American health care system, hence increasing federal government control of same, as intended by its authors. Of course, Obama’s speech avoids any discussion of the massive increase in the federal government’s bureaucracy in his remarks today and instead Obama implausibly denies that his bill will increase federal power over the health care industry, as it is written and intended to do. Also unmentioned in Obama’s speech is the 15,000 new IRS employees to be hired to enforce the new Obamacare personal and company fines and taxes in Obamacare as well as cost of new federal health bureaucrats to “administer” Obamacare.
Obama then summarizes the parts of his nearly 3000 page bill that he wants to talk about, stating his Obamacare plan does three things: first, it “ends the worst practices of insurance companies” as implementing “a patients’ bill of rights on steroids”; second, “[f]or the first time, small business owners and others…will have the same kind of choice for private health insurance that members of congress give to themselves”; and third that it “brings down the cost of health care for families, businesses and the federal government.”
While the President does accurately state that insurers will be required to issue insurance policies to all those who have preexisting conditions that cost hundreds of thousands if not millions to treat every year at a cost that is not above a healthy person’s policy, the remaining two claims in his formulation are unequivocally false. All Americans will certainly not have coverage like members of Congress after Obamacare passes, this is simply a lie. Elite politicians will continue to receive gold-plated health care plans whether Obamacare passes or not, and the average American will either be fined for not purchasing such expensive coverage or the federal government will their own tax dollars (or borrowed dollars) pay to provide coverage made more expensive by Obamacare’s provisions.
Despite this reality, Obama makes this ridiculous claim during his discussion of his second main point that Americans will receive the same coverage as Congress:
“We will offer you tax credits to do so – tax credits that add up to the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history.”
Amazingly, Obama terms his planned new spending, in his own words, of at least a “100 billion a year” on a new federal health care entitlement program via Obamacare, as the “largest middle class tax cut for health care in history.” Such an explicitly misleading presentation of the new entitlement programs in Obamacare certainly recalls the works of George Orwell, such as the book 1984, and this Orwell quote in the aftermath of World War 2 in 1945:
People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. . . To appreciate the danger of Fascism the Left would have had to admit its own shortcomings, which was too painful; so the whole phenomenon was ignored or misinterpreted, with disastrous results…The most intelligent people seem capable of holding schizophrenic beliefs, or disregarding plain facts, of evading serious questions with debating-society repartees, or swallowing baseless rumours and of looking on indifferently while history is falsified.
Above and beyond the false and misleading claims above, President Obama’s ridiculous claim today that Obamacare is “one of the biggest deficit-reduction plans in history” is definitely the most odious and explicitly false statement made by President Obama in his speech today, which in our view ranks as one of the most misleading Presidential speeches in American history. Of course, the giant new entitlement spending in Obamacare (at least 100 billion a year according to Obama today) will not reduce the yearly federal budget deficit, and Obama knows it. However, Obama and the Democrats keep repeating this claim, even claiming it is “one of the biggest deficit-reduction plans in history” based on entirely misleading numbers from the CBO.
It is true that the CBO issued a preliminary report on the latest nearly 3000 page long Obamacare plan today in which the CBO states the bill will cost about a trillion dollars over 10 years (only 6 years of benefits, but 10 years of taxes and Medicare cuts) while allegedly “saving” over a hundred billion in deficit spending over those first 10 years and over a trillion in deficit spending over 20 years. However, the CBO is forced to score the language and assumptions provided to it by the Democrats in charge of Congress, and cannot interject the CBO’s own opinion as to whether those assumptions will bear out or whether subsequent Congresses will change the language.
The first major misrepresentation in the CBO’s claim of deficit savings is the failure to include the “doctor fix” in the CBO’s scoring of OBamacare. The CBO’s claim of deficit spending assumes a 21% cut in doctor and hospital fees, as present law requires. That law, a 1997 act to reduce Medicare spending over time, has been waived every year since then by Congress under pressure from the AMA lobby and others. The Obama Administration, of course, made a little-publicized deal between Obama and the AMA in July 2009 to purchase their support for Obamacare by promising a long term “doctor fix” as a part of the comprehensive health care reform procedure, as reported by Politico then:
In the bill, Democrats provide $245 billion to eliminate an annual shortfall in payments to doctors under Medicare. Democrats resolved this annual headache, in large part, to win crucial support for the bill from the American Medical Association. That money currently counts against the overall costs of the bill, but Democrats have introduced legislation that would remove remove this obligation from federal deficit.
Whether you take the $245 billion dollar figure over 10 years quoted here by Politico, or the $371 billion dollar figure reported by Politico today (before they pulled the story under White House pressure) for the cost in federal spending of a long term doctor fix, the claimed $138 billion in deficit “savings” over the next 10 years completely disappears and Obamacare ends up being in the red, even putting aside all the other budgetary tricks we will outline below. Indeed, the CBO just issued an update to their report, in response to GOP Congressman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) letter, admitting that Obamacare will add to the deficit once the doctor fix is in place, as promised by both President Obama to the AMA to buy their support and by Nancy Pelosi today in her news conference:
You asked about the total budgetary impact of enacting the reconciliation proposal (the amendment to H.R. 4872), the Senate-passed health bill (H.R. 3590), and the Medicare Physicians Payment Reform Act of 2009 (H.R. 3961). CBO estimates that enacting all three pieces of legislation would add $59 billion to budget deficits over the 2010–2019 period.
Of course, Obama was well aware of these facts regarding the lack of deficit savings when the doctor fix is factored into Obamacare, and Obama still explicitly stated today that his plan will be “one of the biggest deficit-reduction plans in history.” This Obama claim, a willful misrepresentation of the true cost of his program by not “counting” the doctor fix that Obama himself promised to the AMA to purchase their support for his program in July 2009, brings to mind the Orwell quote above that “most intelligent people seem capable of holding schizophrenic beliefs, or disregarding plain facts, of evading serious questions with debating-society repartees, or swallowing baseless rumours and of looking on indifferently while history is falsified. Sadly, the explicit misrepresentation of the President in claiming that Obamacare is “one of the biggest deficit-reduction plans in history” is not solely based on the doctor fix lie, but many others as well.
They’ve stuffed the legislation with gimmicks and dodges designed to get a good score from the Congressional Budget Office but don’t genuinely control runaway spending.
There is the doc fix dodge. The legislation pretends that Congress is about to cut Medicare reimbursements by 21 percent. Everyone knows that will never happen, so over the next decade actual spending will be $300 billion higher than paper projections.
There is the long-term care dodge. The bill creates a $72 billion trust fund to pay for a new long-term care program. The sponsors count that money as cost-saving, even though it will eventually be paid back out when the program comes on line.
There is the subsidy dodge. Workers making $60,000 and in the health exchanges would receive $4,500 more in subsidies in 2016 than workers making $60,000 and not in the exchanges. There is no way future Congresses will allow that disparity to persist. Soon, everybody will get the subsidy.
There is the excise tax dodge. The primary cost-control mechanism and long-term revenue source for the program is the tax on high-cost plans. But Democrats aren’t willing to levy this tax for eight years. The fiscal sustainability of the whole bill rests on the naïve hope that a future Congress will have the guts to accept a trillion-dollar tax when the current Congress wouldn’t accept an increase of a few billion.
There is the 10-6 dodge. One of the reasons the bill appears deficit-neutral in the first decade is that it begins collecting revenue right away but doesn’t have to pay for most benefits until 2014. That’s 10 years of revenues to pay for 6 years of benefits, something unlikely to happen again unless the country agrees to go without health care for four years every decade.
There is the Social Security dodge. The bill uses $52 billion in higher Social Security taxes to pay for health care expansion. But if Social Security taxes pay for health care, what pays for Social Security?
There is the pilot program dodge. Admirably, the bill includes pilot programs designed to help find ways to control costs. But it’s not clear that the bill includes mechanisms to actually implement the results. This is exactly what happened to undermine previous pilot program efforts.
In its March 11, 2010, cost estimate for H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), as passed by the Senate, CBO indicated that it has identified at least $50 billion in specified and estimated authorizations of discretionary spending that might be involved in implementing that legislation. The authority to undertake such spending is not provided in H.R. 3590; it would require future action in appropriation bills.
Finally, the President also plays misleading rhetorical games regarding the “cost controls” in Obamacare. The only significant cost control mechanism in the Obamacare package (as tort reform and interstate competition between insurers are omitted) is the “cadillac tax” on gold-plated health insurance policies, however, that tax was pushed off until 2018 because of pressure from unions who’s members have such insurance plans. Accordingly, in order to make the ridiculous claims of deficit savings referenced above, Obama pretends that Congress in 2017 will not waive the “cadillac tax” under political pressure, as he has just done with the delay until 2018 and as every Congress has done every year since the 1997 Medicare cost-cutting legislation (which is the source of the “doctor fix” problem in the first place). Indeed, if Obama with a huge Congressional majority cannot enact a cadillac tax within the next 8 years, why should anyone have any confidence that Congress 2017 will do so? Obama, and everyone else in Washington, knows this is an unrealistic fantasy, but Obama still made these ridiculous claims in his historically misleading speech today.
Finally, just as Congress has waived the planned reductions in fees for doctors and hospitals every year since 1997, future Congresses in all likelihood will also waive the planned nearly $500 billion in cuts to Medicare over the next 10 years to avoid a backlash by elderly voters who fear benefit cuts and pressure from medical provider lobbies. The cuts to Medicare are over half of the revenue Obama plans to use to fund the new health care entitlement spending of $100 billion a year, and everyone in Washington knows these cuts will never happen in full. Obama’s speech, of course, makes no reference to the “doctor fix” or the Medicare cuts themselves which form half of the revenue for his programs, but Obama certainly does claim that his plan is “one of the biggest deficit-reduction plans in history”, and all of his fellow Democrats are repeating similar claims all over the dial as this article is written. Such intentionally misleading statements by American leaders again remind centrist and independent Americans of the words of George Orwell as referenced above, reinforced by Obama’s ridiculous claim his “reduced” health care costs from Obamacare will mean that employers “can afford to give you a raise.”
A final Obama quote from today sums up the fraudulent nature of his speech, as he claims “more than $1 trillion” in deficit savings, considering the facts noted above. This comment is the only reference to the $500 billion in cuts planned for the Medicare system, and of course Obama does not reference Medicare by name:
And by the way, if you’re curious, well, how exactly are we saving these costs? Well, part of it is, again, we’re not spending our health care money wisely. So, for example, you go to the hospital or you go to a doctor and you may take five tests, when it turns out if you just took one test, then you send an e-mail around with the test results, you wouldn’t be paying $500 per test. So we’re trying to save money across the system. (Applause.) And altogether, our cost-cutting measures would reduce most people’s premiums. And here’s the bonus: It brings down our deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next two decades.
The pure idiocy of Obama’s example of emailed tests as his primary cost-cutting mechanism to cut nearly $500 billion from Medicare speaks for itself. Obama gave his speech to an auditorium of students at George Mason University, as such young college students are Obama’s last remaining base of support with his approval slipping underwater, as more Americans disapproving than approving of his performance in all major polls released this week. One can only hope that America does not have to find out the hard way, via renewed economic instability emanating from runaway deficit spending as envisioned by the actual provisions of Obamacare, not to mention the loss of medical innovation and job creation from the health care industry and the historical alteration of the relationship between American citizens and the federal government, that the claims made in Obama’s speech today are wholly false and that his speech was likely one of the most misleading speeches ever given by a sitting American President.
After over a year of wrangling, and repeated pronouncements of an “endgame” from President Barack Obama, his senior advisors, and Congressional Democratic leaders at regular intervals from July of 2009 to present, the Obama Administration and Congressional Democratic leadership are settling on a March 18 deadline for House passage of Obamacare. As today’s news sinks in, President Barack Obama is facing a low ebb of job approval in his Presidency so far, with just 48% (one point off all-time low) of registered voters approving in Gallup’s numbers today and just 43% (all-time low) of likely voters approving in today’s Rasmussen polling. Considering this slide in approval as the focus on health care intensifies, the Obama Administration’s desire to have the big House vote sooner rather than later, and come what may, makes sense politically as the White House can then move to a popular jobs focus immediately even in the aftermath of a health care defeat.
As for the pronouncement that the debate is over itself, perhaps this claim should viewed with caution, considering the prior numerous pronouncements. President Obama got into the act on Monday, again declaring that the time for debate over health care is over, while attacking GOP opponents of Obamacare:
Congress “owes the American people a final up or down vote on health care. It’s time to make a decision,” he told an enthusiastic crowd at Arcadia University near Philadelphia. “Stand with me and fight with me. … Let’s seize reform. It’s within our grasp.”
The administration is ramping up its health care push in the coming weeks. The White House has called for legislation to be on the president’s desk at the end of March before the congressional Easter vacation.
Insurance companies, the president argued, have made a calculation. He cited a recent Goldman Sachs conference call in which an insurance broker told investors that insurers are willing to lose some customers through premium hikes because of an overall lack of competition in the industry.
“They will keep doing this for as long as they can get away with it,” Obama said. “How much higher do premiums have to rise until we do something about it? How many more Americans have to lose their health insurance? How many more businesses have to drop coverage?”
Obama dismissed GOP criticism that his nearly $1 trillion proposal fails to control spiraling medical costs.
“You had 10 years,” Obama said in reference to GOP control of Congress. “What were you doing?”
Washington is “obsessed with the sport of politics,” he said. “We have debated health care in Washington for more than a year. … When’s the right time? If not now, when? If not us, who?”
CINCINNATI – In a combative Labor Day speech, President Barack Obama said the health care debate had gone on too long and accused opponents of spreading “lies” meant to convince Americans that his proposed overhaul would cruelly deny care to the elderly.
The president, speaking at an AFL-CIO picnic, said that “special interests” were determined to “scare the heck out of people.”
“I’ve got a question for all these folks who say, you know, we’re going to pull the plug on Grandma and this is all about illegal immigrants – you’ve heard all the lies,” Obama said. “I’ve got a question for all those folks: What are you going to do? What’s your answer? What’s your solution? And you know what? They don’t have one.”
The president seemed eager to recapture some of the enthusiasm that propelled him during his campaign. A prolonged recession has sapped morale, he said, as have pundits who warn that “this isn’t working and that’s not working.”
But his overriding message in Cincinnati was that health care discussions needed to end. In making that case, he was rejecting a Republican suggestion that he “reset” health care negotiations and start anew.
Obama said “every debate at some point comes to an end. At some point, it’s time to decide. At some point, it’s time to act.”
In between the twin Obama speeches in March 2010 and September 2009 which demand an end to the health care debate while attacking opponents, the White House orchestrated a health care summit with the GOP, with much fanfare, where Obama and the Democrats spoke for about four hours and the GOP spoke for two hours about areas of agreement on health care reform. Many of the points of agreement were outlined on this site before the summit. At the end of the summit, Obama promised to work with Republicans on those points of agreement for “a months time or a few weeks time or six weeks time” before pushing through a partisan Democratic plan:
Obama says there probably won’t be another summit due to the time it requires, but says “we cannot have another year-long debate about this.”
“The question that I’m going to ask myself and I ask of all of you is, ‘Is there enough serious effort that in a months time or a few weeks time or six weeks time, we could actually decide something?’ And if we can’t, I think we’ve got to go ahead and make some decisions and then that’s what elections are for.”
With all of the political back and forth behind us, now Americans can focus on what will amount to one of the most important votes in the House of Representatives in American history, set to take place not later than eight days from today. Folks on both sides of the debate, for or against Obamacare, should make their views known to their Congressperson by calling, mailing, emailing or otherwise communicating with their local representatives. Folks who are looking to support Obamacare can look here for numbers of to call and other information. Folks who are looking to oppose Obamacare can lookhere for numbers to call and other information. We are in a truly historic period over the next week or so and all Americans should pay attention and make their views known.
President Barack Obama will use a bipartisan summit Thursday to push for sweeping health-care legislation, but if that fails to generate enough support the White House has prepared the outlines of a more modest plan.
His leading alternate approach would provide health insurance to perhaps 15 million Americans, about half what the comprehensive bill would cover, according to two people familiar with the planning.
It would do that by requiring insurance companies to allow people up to 26 years old to stay on their parents’ health plans, and by modestly expanding two federal-state health programs, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, one person said. The cost to the federal government would be about one-fourth the price tag for the broader effort, which the White House has said would cost about $950 billion over 10 years.
Officials cautioned that no final decisions had been made but said the smaller plan’s outlines are in place in case the larger plan fails.
Such a move would disappoint many Democrats, including Mr. Obama. They have worked for more than a year to pass comprehensive legislation like the plan the president unveiled Monday, which would cover the bulk of the 46 million uninsured people in the U.S., set new rules for health insurers and try to control spiraling health-care costs.
The last reporting from the WSJ above could be the understatement of the decade, as many Democrats will be much more than disappointed. The left is already disappointed by the White House’s declaration yesterday that the public option was dead, and this scaled back, much smaller plan leaked just hours before the health care summit is sure to infuriate those on the left who have been agitating tirelessly for a comprehensive health care reform package along the lines of Monday’s Obama Health Plan. Indeed, should Obama actually fallback on the smaller plan as the WSJ suggests, such a development is certain to lead to questions about the consistency and effectiveness of Obama’s strategy on health care reform and much consternation in the left wing new media about the incompetence of his execution since the health care debate began in the Spring of 2009.
Looking back, if Obama had been agreeable to the type of plan he’s apparently contemplating now back in the Spring of 2009, health care reform would have passed with 80 votes in the Senate and Obama would have done a lot to prove his bipartisan bona fides. Instead, after nearly a year of advocating a strongly partisan health plan, Obama may now be signaling he will take what he can get in a scaled down bill, yet the damage to the Democratic Party and the Obama brand as inflicted since the Spring of 2009 by the health care debate will remain.
The Wall Street Journal has a splashy piece this evening on the White House’s plan B for health-care reform: a fallback approach that would cover 15 million people, do less to reform the system and cut costs, and carry a lower price tag. Call it health-care lite.
Plan B has been around for awhile. In August, discussions raged in the White House over whether to pare back the bill. The comprehensive folks won the argument, but people also drew up plans for how you could pare back the bill, if it came to that. More thinking was done on this in the aftermath of the Massachusetts election, when Rahm Emanuel and some of the political folks again argued for retreating to a more modest bill. As you’d expect, these conversations included proposals for how that smaller bill would look.
At this point, I could quote some White House sources swearing up and down that that’s all this is. A vestigial document that’s being blown out of proportion by a conservative paper interested in an agenda-setting story. They’re furious over this story. None of the quotes are sourced to the White House — not even anonymously — raising questions that the whole thing is sabotage. But it hardly matters. There’s no Plan B at this point in the game, and most everyone knows it.
UPDATE #2: Ed at Hotair picks up this Hill piece quoting House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer stating this morning before the summit that a scaled back bill along the lines of the one described by the WSJ last night is on the table:
Hoyer, the second-ranking House Democrat, said the president would have to look at a fallback proposal if the current proposals before Congress weren’t able to muster the votes to pass.
“I think the president’s open to that,” Hoyer said during an appearance on CNBC, cautioning that the president would clearly prefer to see the comprehensive bills pass…
“Obviously, the president has indicated he wants to have a comprehensive bill,” Hoyer said. “But the president, like all of us, understands that in a democracy, you do the possible.”