Words, words, words
Finally we have it. After months of empty rhetoric, after being careened through the depths of space and time and reality by our Commander-in-Chief and his spinster sidekick Robert Gibbs, we can finally claim a modest understanding of President Obama’s objectives for healthcare reform.
As far as speeches go, the president earns high marks for turning a policy wonkish lecture on health reform into a soaring bit of oratorical brilliance. From the tragic stories of Americans lacking adequate coverage to Obama’s fiery vilification of the evil insurance industry and touching recollections of Ted Kennedy (accompanied by close up shots of a teary-eyed Vicki Kennedy), I found myself wondering why anyone would be tuned into “So You Think You Can Dance.” Even if it was hosted by that breathtakingly beautiful Brit, Cat Deeley.
However captivating our president may have been, there are still some very serious concerns with Obama’s vision for health reform. First and foremost, how will he pay for it? The Congressional Budget Office says it would carry a 10-year, $1 trillion price tag. Sure, Obama mentioned taxing “Cadillac” insurance plans (which he falsely assumes will “provide greater value for the money” – instead of passing the burden onto policyholders) and cutting back on waste and fraud in Medicare (why not require co-pays for every doctor’s visit?), but will that really cut it? Hardly. We also must not forget that this $1 trillion price tag only lasts for one decade. Then what? Costs are easy to control over ten years. Social Security and Medicare, two programs the president praised as triumphs of American legislation, also performed well in their infant stages. Now they are fixed to bankrupt the country.
President Obama also guaranteed that individuals satisfied with their current private insurance would not be affected (he repeated this twice). However, many analysts (including the notoriously left leaning New York Times) concede that Obama’s proposal would impose a powerful incentive on employers to meet insurance requirements by dropping private coverage in favor of government coverage. So much for that.
Sounding like a broken record, President Obama also touted the potential of preventive care and an independent Medicare commission to significantly reduce healthcare costs. This in light of the fact that the CBO, lead by Harvard Economist Douglas Elmendorf, finds that preventive care actually increases health care costs. Writes Elmendorf, “Although different types of preventive care have different effects on spending, the evidence suggests that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall.”
So there you have it. Just a few ways in which our fearless leader may be pulling the wool over our eyes. But don’t fret! Obama is committed to “ironing out the details.” He will make it all better!
So, to those of you who stand in the way of Obamacare – you recalcitrant, deranged masses (lest we forget “Un-American” – Nancy Pelosi, 8/10; or “terrorists” – Janet Napolitano, 4/14), shame on you. There is nothing wrong with mortgaging away your future. China will cover us….. right? Anyway…. His Majesty Obama has spoken. Fall in line.
… Or come with me. Let’s raise some hell at the next town hall.
[Maxwell L. Meyer is a sophomore concentrating in Economics and East Asian Studies]