September 27 2013

President Obama: U.S. Not Measuring Up

Patrice J. Lee

The President thinks America needs to be more like other countries  and ObamaCare is the way to get there.

This week the President has been making rounds to drum up last-minute support for ObamaCare with enrollment day –the day the state health care exchanges go live- coming up next Tuesday. Bringing it to a world stage, he touted Obamacare with former President Bill and Hillary Clinton at their foundation’s annual powwow of global leaders.

As much as the Administration pretends otherwise, they are very nervous that come next Tuesday Americans won’t be lining up around the corner of every health clinic and crashing the website of their state exchange – if they have one- to get “free” healthcare. Remember the free chese lines in the '80s?

Perhaps the Administration knows that almost half of Americans think ObamaCare will make the healthcare situation worse. Or maybe they realize the sticker-shock of the high premiums that vary by state/age/gender and the high deductibles and co-pays people will face will deter Americans.

Whatever the case, it’s interesting to see how the President framed the push for mandated healthcare. His presidency will be marked by ObamaCare and if it flops, history will not look back on him kindly -think Jimmy Carter and the Iranian hostages.

Here’s what he had to say:

The fact is that we have been, up until recently, the only advanced industrialized nation on Earth that permits large numbers of its people to languish without health insurance. Not only is there the cruelty of people who are unable to get health insurance having to use the emergency room as their doctor or their health service, but — we’re also more efficient than anybody else and so when we talk about, for example, our deficit — you know this better than anybody — the reason that we have not only current deficits but also projected long-term deficits — the structural deficit that we have is primarily based on the fact that we have a hugely inefficient, wildly expensive health care system that does not produce better outcomes.

Really? Our deficit is driven by healthcare? Certainly that’s a big part of it but the federal deficit is driven by all entitlement spending—and that includes Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Forty-five cents of every tax dollar collected goes to entitlements. As Baby Boomers continue to age, our obligations to them will continue to rise while what we collect in revenue won’t be able to keep up.

But here’s the kicker. The President thinks our healthcare system is not socialized enough and not enough like the systems of our foreign brethren:

And if we spent the same amount of money on health care that Canada or France or Great Britain did, or Japan, or any other industrialized country, with the same outcomes or better outcomes, that essentially would remove our structural deficit, which would then free up dollars for us to invest in early-childhood education and infrastructure and medical research and all the other things that can make sure that we’re competitive and growing rapidly over the long term.

That is the root difference in philosophies between those of us who think the United States is unique and that it prospered because in the past most of our goods and services—including healthcare—were privately delivered.  Granted, we already have Medicare and Medicaid, but ObamaCare breathtakingly expands the public provision of healthcare. Up until the 20th century we as a nation have been inspirited by the motivation of our Founders to create a country where private enterprise and private pursuits flourished with minimal constraint and interference of government.

We now have a president who thinks that is just not good enough. The constitutionally defined boundaries of government are just not broad enough because our results don’t look like European results or Canada. No one denies that the marketplace is imperfect in its provision of every good and service like healthcare for the poor, but we also have private solutions in our civil society that may be more efficient and effective in providing these goods.

President Obama continues:

So my view when I came into office was we’ve got an immediate crisis — we’ve got to get the economy growing. But what we also have to do is to start tackling some of these structural problems that had been building up for years. And one of the biggest structural problems was health care. It’s what accounts for our deficit. It’s what accounts for our debt. It causes pain and misery to millions of people all across the country. It is a huge burden on our businesses.

Funny, I thought the financial breakdown and recession were the immediate crisis he needed to tackle upon entering office? Most Americans would probably agree with me. The recession was not driven by healthcare but the popping of the housing bubble.

A light bulb just went off in my mind: the economy hasn’t been the president’s focus but healthcare. For the past five years he has kept pivoting back to the economy whenever he needs to look as if he cares about prosperity. But for President Obama the real business of being president isn’t freeing the economy to produce, working with Congress to pass a budget that establishes tax policies business can use to plan ahead, getting unemployed Americans back to work, securing our borders, or pursuing a foreign policy agenda that promotes our interests and protects our people. It’s been healthcare. Healthcare!

This accounts for his dismissive attitude towards the rest of the job of being president. Everything else, including our international standing, is just ancillary to him.

At issue is not just healthcare but our generation’s redefinition of what the role of government should be. Healthcare is the big Buick that the President is ramming through the narrow tunnel of what government should do, never mind that in the process he may just be destroying the entire thing.

 

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