Thursday, September 10, 2009

Obama's Ruse

One of the first cases we studied in law school was Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company. The "carbolic smoke ball" was a rubber ball with a tube attached. The ball was filled with carbolic acid. The user inserted the tube into his or her nose and squeezed the ball, releasing the enclosed vapors into the nose, causing the nose to run and the disease to be flushed away. What disease? The carbolic smoke ball was advertised to "positively cure" coughs, colds, catarrh, asthma, eroechitis, loss of voice, sore throat, "throat deafness," snoring, sore eyes, influenza, hay fever, headaches, croup, whooping cough, and neuralgia.

Last night, Americans were treated to a televised version of the carbolic smoke ball when The One took to the airwaves and delivered his "plan" for health care reform. Now that the tsunami of media gushing has subsided somewhat, let's take a look at some of The One's claims.

The One started off by saying "nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have." He immediately followed this by saying:

As soon as I sign this bill, it will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick or water it down when you need it most. They will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime. We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick. And insurance companies will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies - because there's no reason we shouldn't be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse.

So, there will be no cap on benefits, government-imposed co-pay limits, and insurance companies will be required to cover a government-imposed list of procedures at no extra charge. Can you say "premium increase"? Co-pays and benefits are adjusted as a means of negotiating lower premiums. The government is going to prohibit these negotiations, and the costs will be passed on to the consumer. Thanks a lot.

Here are two more:
There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false - the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally. And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up - under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.

If our new government-run health care system will not cover illegal aliens, why does The One try to sell it using a figure -- "47 million without health care" -- that includes nearly 10 million illegal aliens? And why did the House kill an amendment that would that would have explicitly banned health care for illegal aliens? On the same day, the House killed an amendment that would have expressly prohibited abortion funding through government health care. If Congress won't expressly prohibit abortion funding and benefits for illegal aliens, how can we trust the repeated assurances that these things won't happen?

That was a rhetorical question. Of course we can't trust them.

Hey, here's a good one:
Right now, too much of the hard-earned savings and tax dollars we spend on health care doesn't make us healthier.

Let's apply this rationale to the Department of Energy and the Department of Education. They have produced neither energy nor education. Let's get rid of these two departments and use that money to pay down the deficit. When The One does that, we can talk about a government takeover of health care.

Which brings us to another hilarious line:
My health care proposal has also been attacked by some who oppose reform as a "government takeover" of the entire health care system.

The One denies this by saying . . . well, actually, he never denies this. Read the speech. He never once disclaims that his intent is a government takeover. Instead, he offers an extended misdirection, which includes this startling admission:
[C]onsumers do better when there is choice and competition.

Huh? Was he kidding? I say, let's take him at his word here and, while our elected representatives in Washington are trying to divine the perfect health care system, let's do three -- that's 3 -- simple things in the interim to increase "choice and competition."

First, allow health care companies to compete across state lines. Second, make health care premiums tax deductible for individuals as well as employers. Third, allow consumers and small businesses to group together to buy health care coverage.

That's it for now -- a one page bill, maybe two pages. Talk about unleashing competition and making health insurance affordable for more people!

Meanwhile, Congress can spend the next four years arguing over whose state gets the building housing the health care "exchange" The One has envisioned.

Look, there are a lot of other problems with The One's health care ruse. How will he pay for it? Even the Los Angeles Times couldn't choke down his ludicrous explanation ("we'll cut out waste and fraud!"):
[T]he president's comments about the savings available in Medicare were disingenuous, as was his assertion that a new tax on insurers would lead them to "provide greater value for the money" instead of simply passing the cost on to policyholders. Obama will have to come up with a more complete approach to paying for reform as the legislation moves forward. He claimed the plan as his own with this speech, but he left some of the hardest questions unanswered.
Wisely, The One has postponed the public option and his insurance "exchanges" for four years, until after the next presidential election. No sense making this an issue, is there?

The Carbolic Smoke Ball Company disappeared a long time ago, like the smoke they touted as a cure. One gets the sense that, despite the energy (and desperation?) fueling The One's extraordinary address to Congress, we are being fed a carbolic smoke ball, touted as a cure, but ultimately a fraud and a ruse.

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