Wednesday, September 16, 2009

George Will, and Presidential veracity thoughts

The late Michael Kelly once wrote a column in which he claimed to believe Bill Clinton. As he walked through all of the things that Clinton had said which were mutually exclusive with other things that Clinton had said, it was a devastating indictment of Clinton's veracity and believability.
I believe the president. I have always believed him. I believed him when he said he had never been drafted in the Vietnam War and I believed him when he said he had forgotten to mention that he had been drafted in the Vietnam War. I believed him when he said he hadn't had sex with Gennifer Flowers and I believe him now, when he reportedly says he did.

What George Will has done this week with Barack Obama is not the same thing. But I was reminded of the Kelly column when reading Will.
His speech to Congress was the 122nd time he had publicly discussed health care. Just 14 hours would pass before the 123rd, on Thursday morning. His incessant talking cannot combat what it has caused: An increasing number of Americans do not believe that he believes what he says.


He deplores "scare tactics" but says that unless he gets his way, people will die. He praises temperate discourse but says many of his opponents are liars. He says Medicare is an exemplary program that validates government's prowess at running health systems. But he also says Medicare is unsustainable and going broke, and that he will pay for much of his reforms by eliminating the hundreds of billions of dollars of waste and fraud in this paragon of a program, and in Medicaid. He says Congress will cut Medicare (it will not) by $500 billion—without affecting benefits. He says the nation's economic health depends on controlling health-care costs. Yet so important is the trial bar in financing the Democratic Party, he says not a syllable in significant and specific support of tort reforms that could save hundreds of billions of dollars by reducing "defensive medicine" intended to protect not patients from illnesses but doctors from lawyers.

I had a discussion with a friend earlier this week about the Joe Wilson outburst, as the result of a Facebook poll in which he had voted that Wilson was wrong. (For the record, Wilson was clearly right and clearly out of line. It was inapproporiate to do what he did.) I said that it was clear that Wilson was right, and that Obama had lied repeatedly during the speech. To which he responded, "I'm also not sure where else you think Obama was lying."

Well, pretty much every time that his lips moved.

How about this: "I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future. Period."

That's a lie. He's lying. He'll sign whatever he can get through Congress, and regardless of the fact that the CBO clearly says that all of the proposed plans result in significant, dare I say "spiraling," increases in the deficit, they're desperately trying to push something through. That comment was a lie.

How about this: "Reducing the waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid will pay for most of this plan."

That's a lie. There's nowhere near enough waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid1 to pay any significant portion of the cost of "this plan," assuming that "this plan" includes the things that it looks like it will include. That comment was a lie.

How about this: "One man from Illinois lost his coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because his insurer found that he hadn’t reported gallstones that he didn’t even know about. They delayed his treatment, and he died because of it."

He briefly lost his coverage, it was quickly restored, the treatments were not delayed, and he lived another 3 1/2 years.

I can't prove that this is a lie, but I can look at his track record and say that I don't believe him when he says: "My guiding principle is, and always has been, that consumers do better when there is choice and competition."

When he says, "But thanks to the bold and decisive action we have taken since January, I can stand here with confidence and say that we have pulled this economy back from the brink." I say he's lying. I might buy mistaken, because anyone clueless enough to support that idiotic "cash for clunkers" as an economic boon clearly doesn't have a hint of a clue about how the economy works, but I think he understands, and doesn't like it. I think he knows he's making things worse, and that's how he's going to "remake America" the way he wants to.

This is a lie that may technically be true: "Let me repeat this: nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have." For some people, it's technically true that nothing requires them to change plans. There is a whole lot in the plan, however, that will change the plans themselves, and with any changes, the plan does require people to go through the government coordinated insurance exchange. The bottom line on this is, no matter how happy you are with your current coverage, doctor, or plan, the plans being debated, and which Obama hopes to sign, are overwhelmingly likely to radically change, or even eliminate, what you currently have.

I'll finish with this - I think I've said it before, but let me say it again. What Barack Obama says, when he stands in front of the country, is this: My plan will give more people more and better care while cutting costs for everyone. That's obviously nonsense, economics from fantasy land. It's wishful thinking masquerading as public policy, and I don't see how anyone could possibly believe it.

1 - By the way, if there is that much "waste and fraud" in Medicare and Medicaid, why on earth do we have to wait to pass a massive new entitlement program before we clean up the massive old entitlement programs? If things are as bad as he says they are financially, wouldn't cleaning up that much "waste and fraud" from existing programs make far more sense than starting new ones? These are obviously rhetorical questions. While there's almost certainly plenty of "waste and fraud" in the existing programs, there's nowhere near enough to cover a massive new entitlement, nor is there any true interest on the party of big government to actually reduce the cost of those programs.

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