The Right Prescription

Thin Reids

Sifting through the claims of the Medicine Man party.

By 10.29.09

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The rhetorical misdirection of the Democrats on health care is impossible to exaggerate. Nancy Pelosi is now calling the public option the "consumer option." Say anything, that's the strategy at this point.

The Democrats are more like medicine men than health care experts. That the plan wouldn't take full effect for some years appeals to them. Once people start complaining about rationing and high taxes, many of the Democrats, like medicine men who scoot to the next village before their "cures" are exposed as frauds, will have left office and become health care lobbyists.

"Bipartisanship" for President Obama consists of talking with Republicans who already agree with him.  But even that bogus definition won't hold up now that Olympia Snowe has distanced herself from Harry Reid's plan.

Still, Reid has come up with an opt-out provision for an opt-out president who likes deceptive compromises. "Our public option isn't a left proposal or a right proposal," said Reid at the press conference announcing the opt-out. "This is a consensus, a compromise that represents months of hard work and debate and will benefit all Americans."

Obama likes to appear as if he is taking the middle position between conservatism and liberalism even as he intends to sweep past the old liberal one. It is always more instructive to look at the fine print in his plans than his summaries of them. And what he denies today he can decree tomorrow. During the primary with Hillary Clinton, he found it useful to run to her right on the issue of compulsory insurance. Now he thinks it is a great idea.

His denials about abortion funding in the heath care bill are equally interim and disingenuous. The plan deliberately excludes the Hyde Amendment, but listening to Obama's speeches and his aides' opportunistic comments (Robert Gibbs, batting away an objection at a recent press conference, said, "There's a law that precludes the use of federal funds for abortion") one would think it does apply to the plan and that Obama was one of its co-authors. Would Obama have voted for the Hyde Amendment when it was first proposed? No, and were it re-submitted to him now, he would never sign it. He denies that illegal immigrants fall under the plan, then calls for an amnesty that would guarantee it.

An opt-out public option in any case wouldn't stay one for very long. It is a way station like the Defense of Marriage Act that the Democrats have to occupy temporarily while making other plans. But it is contrary to the egalitarian thrust of their legislation. If government-run health care is a "right," then how can they rest until all states carry it? 

That Obama and the Democrats have had to resort to a range of gimmicks and semantic somersaults in this debate contradicts their claim of widespread support for the public option. If the public supports it in polls, that's because they don't know what the "public option" is. The same polls indicate that the public's confidence in the federal government is plummeting. How can one square the two if the public understood the public option to mean insurance provided by the federal government?

So the game is to keep the people confused, thinking it is a "consumer option," as Pelosi spins, or something else, but never to let them see the fine print about it written up in Harry Reid's office.   

To pep up their spirits, Democrats have been chortling about George W. Bush's recent appearance as a motivational speaker. But Obama's failed presidency is a topic they won't broach. His primary accomplishments so far are a stimulus package that hasn't stimulated the economy and a peacekeeping award won without any discernible peacekeeping. The pressure is on to sign a bill, any bill, and claim "sweeping health care reform" before the people know what has hit them.

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author, with Phyllis Schlafly, of the new book, No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.