The President has spent the past week trying to convince the American people that he was in search of a bipartisan health care reform. But as yesterday’s speech revealed, the President is not serious about building support for a product that Americans can feel good about.
If the President were serious about building bipartisanship, he would scrap the existing proposals and start fresh with the items that both sides can agree to – like letting states take the lead on health reform; tackling that tax treatment of health insurance; getting serious about entitlement reform; and putting in place sensible insurance market reform. Instead the President is trying to cast his proposal as bipartisan by indicating he is open to adding so-called conservative ideas.
First, being open to ideas is not a real commitment to including them. At the summit, the President claimed to be supportive of many ideas from the other side. But, in his letter to Congress, key proposals such as allowing citizens to purchase coverage from other states were not highlighted.
Second, details matter. Hijacking conservative terminology does not mean that the underlying policy and legislative language meet the laugh test. Simply titling a section of the bill “state flexibility”, for example, does not mean the actual language will enable states to anything other than what the federal government gives it permission to do.
Finally, even if the President added — word for word – the legislative language for so-called conservative ideas, it does not change the fundamental direction of the basic proposal. The House and Senate bills and the President’s own outline would dramatically shift control over health care financing and delivery to Washington bureaucrats and politicians.
The American people have spoken. They are not comfortable with a proposal that would overhaul 1/6 of the US economy and don’t want a government take over. Although the President continues to promise the American people that if they like their coverage nothing will change, it is difficult to accept that this 2,000+ page bill will not impact the way average Americans get health care.