Any doubts that President Barack Obama’s “townhall” in Portsmouth, New Hampshire yesterday was a complete farce were dispelled early on when the hand picked crowd broke out in a chant of: “Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!” at the close of his opening remarks. Recognizing his campaign’s signature slogan, the President responded: “Thank you. I remember that.” Comforted knowing he was surrounded by a room full of die-hard supporters, President Obama then want on to make a number of misleading and outright false statements about the health care legislation still working it’s way through Congress. Here are just seven:
“I have not said that I was a single-payer supporter.” This is directly contradicted by candidate Barack Obama’s own website which quotes Obama at a rally in Ames, Iowa form 2008: “If I were designing a system from scratch I would probably set up a single-payer system. … So what I believe is we should set up a series of choices….Over time it may be that we end up transitioning to such a system.” So there you have in one paragraph the true purpose of Obama’s public option: a vehicle to slowly transition all Americans out of private coverage and into a government-run single payer health care system. This Trojan Horse view of the public option has been reaffirmed by Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein, and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.
“Under the reform we’re proposing, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.” This statement is also plainly false. Again, as demonstrated above, the true purpose of Obama’s public option is to move Americans out of their private coverage and into government run health care. Independent, non-partisan analysis from the Lewin Group has confirmed the House bill, H.R. 3200, will do exactly that: About 88.1 million workers would see their current private, employer-sponsored health plan go away and would be shifted to the public plan.
“That’s what the health exchange is all about, is that you — just like a member of Congress — can go and choose the plan that’s right for you.” This statement isn’t false, but it is misleading. Members of Congress do purchase their health care through a health exchange: the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). Through the FEHBP 283 private plans compete for federal employees’ health care dollars. The Heritage Foundation has long been a supporter of health reform that empowers consumers to utilize a FEHBP like system. But Obamacare is nothing like the FEHBP system. There is no government run public option competing with private plans in the FEHBP. So whenever Obama says that a health exchange already “drives down costs” he is right … but remember that this cost reduction is achieved purely by private health coverage without any “competition” from a government run public option.
“We have the AARP on board because they know this is a good deal for our seniors.” This is just plain false. The AARP released a statement late yesterday directly contradicting the President: “While the President was correct that AARP will not endorse a health care reform bill that would reduce Medicare benefits, indications that we have endorsed any of the major health care reform bills currently under consideration in Congress are inaccurate.”
“I just want to be clear, again: Seniors who are listening here, this does not affect your benefits. This is not money going to you to pay for your benefits; this is money that is subsidizing folks who don’t need it.” Under the current system, more and more seniors are discovering that it is becoming harder and harder to find and keep doctors who will accept Medicare patients. A 2008 survey found that 29% of the Medicare beneficiaries it surveyed who were looking for a primary care doctor had a problem finding one to treat them. Obamacare will only make this problem worse by cutting $313 billion in Medicare reimbursements to health care providers over the next 10 years. This will only force more doctors to stop seeing Medicare patients. Obama also mentioned yesterday that he wants to pay for subsidized health care by killing the Medicare Advantage program. Medicare Advantage plans cover all of the traditional Medicare benefits and much more, including coordinated care and care-management programs for enrollees with chronic conditions as well as additional hospitalization and skilled nursing facility stays. 22% of all Medicare patients, which translates to 10.5 million seniors, are currently enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans.
“I said I won’t sign a bill that adds to the deficit or the national debt. Okay? So this will have to be paid for.” That is a nice promise, but so was Obama’s October 2008 promise that he would enact a “net spending cut.” We all know how that has turned out. The reality is that the Senate still has not figured out how to pay for their bill and the House bill would increase the budget deficit by $239 billion over the next ten years. CBO director Doug Elmendorf has said: “In sum, relative to current law, the proposal would probably generate substantial increases in federal budget deficits during the decade beyond the current 10-year budget window.”
“My belief is, is that [Obamacare] should not burden people who make $250,000 a year or less.” Both the House and Senate bills partially pay for Obamacare by imposing “employer mandates” or “pay or play” provisions that require employers to pay higher taxes if (a) they do not offer health insurance, or (b) they offer it but have employees who decline it and instead use the government system. Multiple studies have shown that such provisions cause both lower wages and lost jobs for low-income workers.
And these are just some of the falsehoods and misinformation peddled by President Obama yesterday. It doesn’t even include his choice to sell Obamacare as The “Post Office” of Health Care Plans. No wonder so many Americans are skeptical.
- According to a new Gallup poll, 66% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they would tell their member of Congress to vote against Obamacare, while only 59% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents would tell their member of Congress to vote for it.
- Data from the “improving economy” shows that any recovery under President Obama is unlikely to include more jobs or higher wages.
- A group of liberal lawmakers urged President Obama to do more to reverse the “coup” in Honduras, and install Hugo Chavez ally Manuel Zelaya in power.
- Federal Aviation Administration Inspector General Calvin Scovel issued a report showing $1.1 billion in stimulus grants to airports lack “economic merit.”
- According to the Congressional Budget Office, it will cost nearly $8 billion to pay for the expanded federal bureaucracy needed to implement the Waxman-Markey energy tax bill.