Critical Condition

NRO’s health-care blog.

A Desperate President


Don’t believe the hype. President Obama is a desperate man. 

Our side — by which I mean the vast majority of Americans who oppose Obamacare — needs to channel some of that sunny Reaganesque optimism and remember that this is a republic, not a monarchy. In America, the government is ultimately accountable to the people, and that puts President Obama and his agenda at a tremendous disadvantage. 

The president would like you to believe that he’s riding a wave of newfound momentum. But where would this wave have come from? From his long-winded and widely panned performance at the “health summit”? From a new poll showing that 57 percent of Americans think Obamacare would hurt the economy, while only 25 percent think it would help it? From polls showing that 81 percent of Americans think Obamacare would cost even more than projected, while only 17 percent think it would lower health costs?

In truth, this “wave” is just President Obama’s desperation kicked into a higher gear — as he and his minions proceed to look into every crevice and under every rock for ways to try to ram a highly unpopular piece of legislation through Congress on a purely partisan vote. 

Instead of buying into the notion that President Obama is riding an invisible wave toward the inevitable passage of Obamacare, we should instead view him as he is: a desperate man who can’t give up on this one last, best shot to pass legislation to fundamentally shift America from the liberalism of the Founding — based on freedom and respect for inalienable natural rights — to the liberalism of the modern European Democratic Socialist state. 

He can’t give up, because this cause represents everything he stands for. So he’s willing to risk a major legislative defeat. He’s willing to risk having the Democrats get slaughtered in November. He’s even willing to risk his own presidency — if he succeeds in passing his overhaul on an entirely partisan vote, the politics of repeal would then ignite the land, would probably coax an attractive candidate who can actually talk about health care (say, Paul Ryan) into the presidential race, and would likely lead to Obama’s defeat and to the repeal of his prized legislation. As Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) has said, “If you . . . just pound it through on a partisan vote, you [will] have people practically as soon as the ink is dry looking to have it repealed.” 

The president’s increased desperation is evident in his arguments. Knowing that he doesn’t currently have enough popular support behind his bill to coax a majority of the House into voting for it, he’s resorting to nonsensical arguments he hopes will strike a populist chord. He’s blaming insurance companies almost unilaterally for rising health-care costs — even though the combined annual profits of America’s ten largest insurers are only $8.3 billion, which is one-seventh of what Medicare loses each year to fraud, and just 0.4 percent of the $2.5 trillion that the United States spends annually on health care. And he’s claiming that Obamacare would be the answer to these higher costs — even though the Congressional Budget Office says that Obamacare would raise insurance premiums in the individual market (the part of the market he’s talking about) by 10 to 13 percent, and $2,100 per family, by 2016 in relation to current law.

These are the arguments of a desperate man. And they are unlikely to prove persuasive either to the American people (again, only 17 percent of whom think Obamacare would lower health costs) or to the most representative branch of their government, which holds the fate of Obamacare in its hands.


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