A Bipartisan Plan to Wreck the System
Here's a little political humor from the Wall Streetr Journal....
The health-care address President Obama should really give to Congress.By HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR...
What follows is a leaked first draft of President Obama's speech on health care tonight, complete with instructions for Democrats in the audience.
Members of Congress, Ladies and Gentlemen, Children of the Obama Youth Corps—I come to you tonight to speak frankly about our nation's health-care crisis and how we in Washington can make it worse.
Salami tactics on health care have long involved slicing the salami from both ends.
On one hand, we enlarge the government's role in providing health care, making more and more voters dependent on Washington.
On the other, we enact regulations and restrictions to keep driving the private insurance system off a cliff.
To the American people I promise tonight, whatever compromises lay ahead, whatever the arduous negotiations, Democrats and Republicans will work together to continue to drive the current system off a cliff. (Applause from Democrats in the audience; Nancy Pelosi beams.)
Even if we cannot enact my administration's "public option," we will extend the great work of previous generations, making sure private health care continues to be unaffordable to more and more Americans, and piling up fresh mandates on employers so fewer and fewer of our citizens will have either jobs or health insurance.
At the same time, with tax dollars, we will continue to subsidize ever more consumption of that which everyone agrees we already consume too much.
We may not get there right away. But by taking these steps, we will bring closer the day when the only form of health care for most Americans will be government-provided health care, and the dream will never die. (Pandemonium among Democrats. Nancy Pelosi daubs her eye.)
I want to give a shout-out to our Republican friends, who have been with us every step of the way, who have been an important part of our salami progress so far—by pushing various "patient's bills of rights," defending the tax giveaways that encourage spending regardless of cost or benefit; by expanding Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans benefits and subsidized health care for middle-class children.
I say tonight, without Republican help, we could never have brought the system to its current dysfunction and I thank you.
Now, much has been said about our "public option" that's been confusing and misinformed. It's in that spirit that I speak to you tonight.
Critics wonder: How can a new "public option" bring meaningful competition to the health-insurance marketplace and drive down costs?
They miss the point. The great work done so far has tended to squash competition, and we would continue this work—by restricting the ability of insurance companies to design and market their policies; by regulating what coverage they can offer; by using tax distortions to keep consumers in the dark about what their health care really costs, so they will continue to treat it as a "free lunch" when it actually gobbles up more and more of their disposable incomes.
People, this is why insurance rates keep going up and up, and why a competitive marketplace, in which consumers reward those who provide high-quality care at low cost, hardly exists. And I say again, with all humility, this is a great bipartisan achievement.
So the purpose of our public option is not to change any of this, but merely to scoop up the growing number of Americans who won't be able to get private coverage because we've made private coverage so expensive and uneconomic.
Some say the public plan would be unfairly subsidized with tax dollars. No, no, no—the public option would be self-sustaining, just like the Post Office, just like Medicare, just like the federal government, which carefully lives within the tax revenues it receives each year.*
Now, my administration is not wedded to the "public option." I know my Republican friends say families should not have health care. They believe we can save money by lying down before rapacious insurance CEOs. They say the indigent should be encouraged to practice self-surgery (I'm sure some Republican somewhere thinks this is a good idea).
But let's put aside our differences and recognize how much we have already accomplished together. I say to Republicans and Democrats alike, if we can just keep working together to inflate the burden of public and private health-care spending as we have the past 30 years, we will push the system to the breaking point. Yes, we can. Yes, we can. (Democrats chant, "Yes we can." Nancy Pelosi levitates above the audience, flies around the chamber three times and bursts into flame. . . .)
. . . Together we can push our current health-care system over a cliff, and then—well, then [STRONG ENDING HERE]
*Certain factual statements subject to OMB review.