Oops: President Obama stepped in a bucket at a town hall meeting today. When a questioner worried about the public option, that would compete–unfairly in my view–with private insurance, the president unwisely brought up the Post Office. From the story:
Obama says the private industry can compete against the government. “They do it all the time,” he says. “If you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine. It’s the Post Office that’s always having problems.”
Yes indeed: The Post Office is perennially in financial meltdown, not making it a great example of how well Obamacare would work. As to the president’s apparent point that the public option won’t hurt private companies, that doesn’t compute. The government doesn’t handcuff UPS and Fed Ex by dictating the terms of service and prices that they can employ. If it did, these thriving companies might be in as bad shape as the Post Office. But under Obamacare, private insurance companies would be restricted on the policies they could offer, constraining innovation and true competition, and if we ever sought to replace our current policies, we would be forced to choose from among the government–approved plans.
No, the Post Office analogy doesn’t serve the president’s cause either coming or going.