The Vice President doesn’t let facts get in the way of a bad analogy.
“What I want to do today is speak English with y’all,” Vice President Joe Biden told an audience of mostly older Americans at an event in Alexandria on Thursday afternoon’s meeting of his Middle Class Task Force.
Flanked by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, White House Health czar Nancy-Ann DeParle and Barry Rand, CEO of AARP, Biden said he wanted to make sure people understood the health care debate in plain language, without the kind of wonky jargon that dominates discussions of such subjects.
In the course of doing so, he made some bizarre analogies and never allowed the facts to get in the way.
“Can we possibly afford to do nothing when health care costs have gone up 57 — if I’m not mistaken — percent just since 2002?” Biden asked rhetorically. “Now folks, if your milk went up 57 percent and no end in sight, guess what? There would be a lot of dead cows. No one buying milk. You can’t afford it.”
Beyond the fact that it’s hard to understand why the price of milk or the mortality rate of livestock would have anything to do with health care reform, Biden’s example makes no sense from an economic standpoint. Basic economic theory would hold that, if anything, cattle ranchers would respond to rising milk prices by breeding more cattle.
In his opening remarks and throughout the question and answer period, Biden kept pounding on the administration’s theme that the only way to control costs is to overhaul the health care system the way Democrats want to. That in fact, having the government provide free or heavily subsidized insurance to tens of millions of more people was actually the fiscally responsible thing to do.
“The status quo is simply not acceptable — it’s totally unacceptable,” Biden said. “And it’s completely unsustainable. Even if you wanted to keep it the way you have it now, we can’t do it financially. We’re going to go bankrupt as a nation.”
He said he understood that it may seem counterintuitive to some people.
“When I say that, people look at me and they say, ‘You’re telling me we have to spend money when we’re going bankrupt?’” Biden exclaimed. “The answer is yeah, that’s what I’m telling you.”
Biden noted that Medicare and Medicaid, unless changes are made, “will eventually grow larger than what our government spends on everything else in the world combined.”
“Not only is it immoral not to provide everybody with decent health care, which is my view, the president’s view, and the administration’s view,” he said. “It is also fiscally irresponsible.”
His comments had an added irony coming on Thursday, because earlier in the day, the director of the Congressional Budget Office testified that the Democratic health care proposals only make the health care cost issue much worse.
Democrat Kent Conrad, chairman of the Budget Committee, asked CBO director Doug Elmendorf: “From what you have seen from the products of the committees that have reported, do you see a successful effort being mounted to bend the long-term cost curve?”
Elmendorf responded, “No, Mr. Chairman.” He explained, “In the legislation that has been reported we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount. And on the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs.”
But in his remarks, Biden pushed back against the way the CBO assesses the cost of legislation, arguing that it failed to take into account savings from preventive care.
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H/T to National Review Online