Human Exceptionalism

Obamacare: Pelosi Spins a Yarn

I admit that I am not a fan of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But the hypocrisy and mendacity of her USA Today column about health care reform (co-authored with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer) is beyond her usual low standards. Time to parse. From their column:

Americans have been waiting for nearly a century for quality, affordable health care.Health coverage for all was on the national agenda as early as 1912, thanks toTeddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose presidential run. Months after World War II came to an end in 1945, President Harry Truman called on Congress to guarantee all Americans the “right to adequate medical care and protection from the economic fears of sickness.” From President Lyndon Johnson…there hasn’t been a more debated domestic issue than the promise of affordable health care for all.

The concept may have been debated, sometimes rejected, sometimes supported. But this plan hasn’t been. Its details and implications are what is roiling the water.

The failure of past attempts is a reminder that health insurance reform is a defining moment in our nation’s history — it is well worth the time it takes to get it right.

But time to get it right is precisely what President Obama and Pelosi have tried hubristically to deny the American people–along with time to learn what the plan would do, time to debate its wisdom, time enough for representatives to even read the 1000+-page bill!

They recound a few examples of rude behavior in public meetings and name calling (boo, hoo–tell it to George Bush) stating:

Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.

Hmm, it was supporters of the bill who put an opponent in the hospital, but that aside, rudeness is never appropriate. But reflect for a moment why some people are so angry: Precisely because Polosi and Company tried to ram this down our throats without the chance for meaningful debate and because many representatives have been profoundly unresponsive to legitimate concerns of their constituents.  If anything is “un American,” that is.

Then comes the mendacity:

The first fact is that health insurance reform will mean more patient choice. It will allow every American who likes his or her current plan to keep it. And it will free doctors and patients to make the health decisions that make the most sense, not the most profits for insurance companies.

It will not mean more choice, but less. Note the use of the word “current” plan. This is an example of what I call lying by omission. Under the House bill, if you change policies, the choices available will be limited to ones approved by the government.  That will stifle insurance companies from innovating and competing. And treatment decisions won’t be between a patient and her doctor, but will also include a utilitarian bioethics rationing board.

I could keep on, but the post would be longer than her column: She demonizes insurance companies, always easy targets, but forgets to mention what it is like to pursue appeals within federal programs. She promises affordable care for all, but forgets to mention it will bust the US Treasury, will come at the cost of substantial cuts to Medicare, will likely lead to rationing and waits for treatment, and is likely to run out of financial control like Hawaii’s universal child coverage did–requiring its revocation–and Massachusetts’s universal plan, which is on the verge of collapse.

We can achieve reform without passing this takeover-of-the-health care system-by-the-federal-government turkey. Indeed, to borrow from Pelosi’s conclusion: we must.