The Public Policy

Shut Up, America!

So Obama and Pelosi explain to Americans concerned about a federal takeover of health care.

By 8.12.09

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Last week, at a Democrat party fundraiser in McLean, Virginia, President Barack Obama gave his answer to the thousands of Americans showing up at town halls and protests all over America questioning his proposed federal takeover of health care. Obama said,

But I don't want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them to just get out of the way so we can clean up the mess. I don't mind cleaning up after them, but don't do a lot of talking.

Obama here was talking about Republicans and conservatives who he holds responsible for the economic downturn. He doesn't want to hear from them whether about health care reform or economic policy more generally. He just wants them to shut up and get out of the way of his glorious left wing revolution.

While campaigning last year, Obama was singing a different tune. Then he promised voters he was going to bring a new era of bipartisanship to Washington. Now he tells us he doesn't want to hear from Republicans who created the mess. And he will not change one component of any of his initiatives to garner any Republican votes in Congress. Many American voters were misled by this deceptive campaign rhetoric.

Obama takes no responsibility for his time served in the U.S. Senate since 2004. He wants us to forget that while serving there he opposed every Bush budget because it did not spend enough. He wants us to forget that as a Senator he joined with Barney Frank to successfully oppose the Bush reforms to clean up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which did so much to cause the financial crisis. In the Congress, he joined with Frank and other ultraliberals who, along with long-time Obama ally ACORN, had long pushed Fannie, Freddie, and the nation's banks to break down traditional mortgage lending standards, and grant mortgages to so many who ultimately failed to pay them back.

Now Obama is sending messages from his White House and Democrat party to unions and other left-wing allies to "punch back twice as hard" at Americans at town halls questioning his Big Government takeover of health care. And answering this call, union thugs from SEIU, one of the most left-wing unions in America, have already shown up at these events and started beating up on Americans raising questions there.

At a town hall in St. Louis sponsored by Democrat Congressman Russ Carnahan, SEIU thugs beat up a black conservative selling political pins and bumper stickers, sending him to the emergency room. Six were arrested. In Tampa, SEIU plants packed half the hall, leaving hundreds of local constituents outside in the hallway. Union thugs then flooded the hallway, ripping one constituent's shirt off and pushing him up against a wall, leaving him with a cut in his chest. In Hillsborough County, Florida, a Democrat party leader slapped a constituent in the face.

In calling out these thugs, and saying he doesn't want to hear from Americans who disagree with him, Barack Obama is not acting or sounding presidential. FDR and John Kennedy and Bill Clinton never told any portion of the American people he didn't want to hear from them. Rather, Obama is sounding and acting more like his at least sometime ally, Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez. How dangerously close are we getting now to that kind of authoritarianism, with the Great Leader now calling out his brown shirts? What's next? Seizing radio stations that air dissenting views?

The Wall Street Journal's William McGurn accurately characterized Barack Obama yesterday as "a my way or the highway president who impugns the character and motives of dissenters." McGurn added:

In his Saturday radio address, the president characterized opponents as 'defenders of the status quo' trafficking in 'misleading information' and 'outlandish rumors.' His communications officer for health care, Linda Douglass, tells CNN that those who show video clips of Mr. Obama speaking are spreading 'disinformation.'….Now at one level the intimation that anyone who questions the President must be a liar probably reflects frustration with the legislative outlook for health care reform. Nevertheless, it is highly unpresidential.

Indeed, whatever happened to the President who is not interested in ideology, only what works? That has turned out to be yet another misleading Obama talking point.

Pelosi to Dissenters: You're Nazis

But it is not just President Obama. The Democrats now running Washington are left-wing extremists across the board, as exemplified first and foremost by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from San Francisco. She charged that Americans questioning the Democrat government health care takeover are manufactured fronts for corporate opponents of the plan. But she never provided one sliver of evidence for this slur, nor was she asked for any evidence by the compliant, party-controlled press. Those involved in this debate know well that the big corporate interests, from insurance companies to doctors to hospitals to drug companies, have already sold out to the Obama Democrats on this issue, foolishly in my opinion for empty promises that are already being ignored.

But this slur wasn't enough for Pelosi. She went on to suggest that dissenting Americans exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly to petition their government for redress of grievances, are Nazis carrying swastikas to these town halls and protests. Again, she provided no evidence for this slander, and was not asked for any.

Then Monday, in an op-ed in USA Today, she called these dissenting Americans who disagree with her government health care takeover "un-American" (emphasis in original). From that perch in a nationally distributed newspaper, she claimed that these dissenters were "drowning out opposing views." The national media broadcast throughout the land every word she and President Obama say on the subject. Yet, somehow, their views are being drowned out by senior citizens and concerned parents of disabled children who are lucky to ever see a microphone.

Pelosi's delusions were amplified in an August 4 Democrat party press release, which called the Americans dissenting from the party line on the Obama health scheme, "angry mobs of a small number of rabid right wing extremists funded by K Street lobbyists." The missive went on to inform us that "These mobs are bussed in by well funded, highly organized groups run by Republican operatives and funded by the special interests who are desperately trying to stop the agenda for change the President was elected to bring to Washington." You mean well-funded special interests like the SEUI and the George Soros funded MoveOn.org? Again, no evidence was provided to support this slime, and none was requested by our media watchdogs. But at least today's Democrat party is following a traditional pattern. The old Soviet Communist Party used to call its dissenters "hooligans."

Yet, rather than un-American Nazis or angry mobsters manufactured by evil corporate interests, these dissenters represent the majority of Americans who increasingly oppose the Obama/Democrat health care scheme. A Rasmussen poll released just yesterday showed that a majority of Americans agree with the town hall dissenters, now opposing the Obama/Democrat health care takeover 53% to 42%. Moreover, 44% strongly oppose it, while only 26% strongly favor it. Among independents, 62% oppose the Obama/Democrat health care scheme, with 51% strongly opposed.

The current political attack on the American people and their views is unprecedented in American history. Is this the change Americans voted for in 2008?

Get the Facts

Just last Friday, the Heartland Institute released my comprehensive study on President Obama's health care scheme ("The Obama Health Plan: Rationing, Higher Taxes, and Lower Quality Care," www.heartland.org). That study explains in careful detail exactly how the Obama health plan will ration and deny you care, how it will greatly restrict your freedom of choice and control over your own health care, how it will raise rather than lower health costs, how it will sharply raise taxes to levels leaving America uncompetitive in the world economy, and how it will sharply raise federal spending, deficits and debt. This study provides a thorough factual foundation for the town hall dissenters.

One reason there is so much anger out among the grassroots is that the statements President Obama and other Democrats are making about their government health care scheme are so unhinged from the reality of the actual pending legislation that they support. Obama was on television just last week still insisting that there are no cuts in Medicare in his plan. Yet the legislation as scored by CBO specifies $500 billion in reduced funding for Medicare diverted to the new national health plan. They want to rely on this when claiming that their health takeover scheme is paid for. But then they want to deny that they are doing it.

President Obama was also on television recently still saying that his health overhaul scheme will reduce government spending and federal deficits. Yet CBO, now controlled by the Democrat Congressional majorities, says it will increase federal spending by more than a trillion dollars and add hundreds of billions to the federal deficit.

Still another falsehood advanced over and over by President Obama is the line that the dissenters have no alternative plan, and that the Republicans are just the party of "No!" Among the alternative Republican plans that really would help to improve American health care is the proposal by House Republican Budget Chief Paul Ryan and Senator Tom Coburn. Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) have also introduced alternative bills that many conservatives think are even better. My own study for the Heartland Institute discussed above also provides a comprehensive alternative plan that would provide a true health care safety net for the uninsured, and, exactly contrary to President Obama's plan, actually reduce health costs. But you will not hear about these alternatives from the party controlled media at NBC, CBS or ABC.

President Obama's Health Care Rationing

An example of the government health care rationing that President Obama and the Democrats have in mind comes from Oregon, a state long run by like-minded ultraliberal Democrats. Randy Stroup, a 53-year-old Oregon resident suffering from prostate cancer, was covered by the state's public option government health plan, the Oregon Health Plan. But the state plan sent him a letter refusing to pay for his cancer treatment. It offered to pay for physician assisted suicide instead. A 64-year-old woman with breast cancer received a similar letter. She is dead now. Americans don't want to take this health care fascism nationwide.

Oregon officials cite "cost effectiveness" as their grounds for such decisions, arguing that the funds would do more social good devoted to something else. President Obama and his Administration have discussed "cost effectiveness" as well. In a report that President Obama touted as showing how he would reduce health costs, his Council of Economic Advisors argued that the Obama health plan would employ cost effectiveness in making health care decisions throughout the entire health care system. Indeed, a Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research was already established by the so-called stimulus bill.

Similarly, Ezekiel Emanuel, brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, is now a top White House health care policy advisor to President Obama. Ezekiel Emanuel has written several articles in top medical journals calling for government health care rationing based on cost effectiveness rationalizations. Betsy McCaughey explained his thinking in the New York Post recently, saying,

Emanuel wants doctors to look beyond the needs of their patients and consider social justice, such as whether the money could be better spent on somebody else….He says medical care should be reserved for the non-disabled, not given to those 'who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens…An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia'….Translation: Don't give much care to a grandmother with Parkinson's or a child with cerebral palsy.

Yet, after the father of a child with cerebral palsy sought to question Congressman John Dingell about care for his son under the Obama health plan at a town hall, Dingell compared him and other town hall dissenters to the Ku Klux Klan opposing the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Later that night, union thugs disturbed the family of the father and his stricken son at their home.

Another top White House health policy advisor, Dr. David Blumenthal, agrees with Emanuel. McCaughey explains,

He recommends slowing medical innovation to control health spending. Blumenthal has long advocated government health spending controls, though he concedes they're 'associated with longer waits' and 'reduced availability of new and expensive treatments and devices.' (New England Journal of Medicine, March 8, 2001) But he calls it 'debatable' whether the timely care Americans get is worth the cost. (Ask a cancer patient, and you'll get a different answer. Delay lowers your chance of survival.)

President Obama himself indicated his sympathy for such health care rationing during the national broadcast by ABC News of his own White House town hall a few weeks ago. A woman rose to ask him whether under his health plan there would be any room for taking into account "spirit of life" as exemplified by her own mother now age 105. At age 100, her mother needed a pacemaker to survive. Doctors at first declined to conduct the operation on someone so old. But the daughter persisted, asking that they talk to her mother to see first hand her continued vivaciousness and "spirit of life." When the doctors did so and realized the mother was still very much alive, they conducted the operation, and the mother is now still alive 5 years later.

Obama answered saying that "spirit of life" was too vague of a concept for a national health plan to consider. He launched into bureaucrat speak saying that "end of life" care involved difficult decisions for everyone, and that many times the best decision is just to give the patient a pain killer and send him or her home. Translation: No, under his cost effective vision of social justice, he would not have allowed the woman's mother a pacemaker, and so she would be dead today. He failed to notice that in the mother's case, the pacemaker was not end of life care.

Left-wing disciples of President Obama insist publicly that they are not in favor of any such rationing. But if so, it is long past time for them to awake from their slumbers, and join the rest of us in fighting this health care fascism

 

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About the Author
Peter Ferrara is Director of Entitlement and Budget Policy at the Heartland Institute, General Counsel of the American Civil Rights Union, Senior Fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, and Senior Policy Advisor on Entitlements and Budget Policy at the National Tax Limitation Foundation. He served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan, and as Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States under President George H.W. Bush.