These are the new magical words with which the Obama administration is now trying to sell a plan to take away both choice and competition in the health care market. Administration henchmen (and women) doing the TV rounds this Sunday repeated the incantation, verbatim or in derivatives, a record time, making it clear that this is the new talking point from the White House.
And why not? Hypocrisy is after all the compliment vice pays virtue, said La Rochefoucauld, a French wit who chronicled the intrigue-filled court of Louis XIV. We shouldn’t be surprised to find the practice alive and well in Obamalot.
Thus White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the phrase “choice and competition” three times, and variations on the words “choice” or “competition” five times, in a 1min, 10sec interview with CBS’s Face the Nation. That is once every 8.7 seconds, perhaps a modern PR record.
To make clear that the directive came from on high (very high), Gibbs said: “What I am saying is the bottom line for this for the President is what we have to have is choice and competition in the insurance market.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was more parsimonious (but then again she’s a member of the Cabinet, and not a mere flak). She used the compound phrase only twice, but the words by themselves five times, in a 1min, 56sec interview with CNN’s State of the Union, or once every 16.7 seconds.
Yes, this is the same administration that is trying to sell a cap and tax bill that will make it prohibitive to use abundant coal as “energy security” and a bill that takes away union members’ right to a secret ballot as the “Employee Free Choice Act.” What’s next, cavorting with dictators as the “Freedom” Act?
In this case, free market language is being used to sell the opposite. Having failed to sell the health care overhaul as universal coverage or as the government doing a better job than private companies, the Administration has shifted its rhetoric and is saying that all it wants to do is introduce “choice and competition” into the insurance market.
As La Rochefoucauld could have told you, this is a tacit but public acknowledgment that we are still a capitalist nation. The Obama Administration will gladly concede a point which it sees as only rhetorical, as long as it can ram through a government take over of one sixth of the U.S. economy.