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Obama’s False Witness (In accusing the Right of lying about health care, he disregards truth)
National Review ^ | 9/9/2009 | Ramesh Ponnuru

Posted on 09/09/2009 6:28:44 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

Count on it: If liberals lose on health care — either because no major legislation passes or because they consider whatever legislation does pass inadequate — they are going to blame the loss on a campaign of deception by their critics. While liberals have more political power now than at any point in at least three decades, they also have a generation of experience at being sore losers. So the town-hall protesters are going to be 2009’s version of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, Bush v. Gore, or the people who ran the Willie Horton ads: a way for liberals to blame political disappointment on the perfidy of their opponents and thus make it a token of their own moral superiority. That way, they will not have to contemplate the possibility that the public has a rational basis for opposing their health-care proposals.

On CNN, Richard Durbin, the second-ranking Democratic senator, criticized his Republican colleague John Cornyn for suggesting that the Democrats’ legislation would result in a “government takeover of our health-care system.” Durbin said, “That isn’t in any proposal before Congress today, and I think Senator Cornyn knows that.” Durbin kept going: “I’ve also heard the suggestion that this is going to pay for abortions across America. Not true in any version of the bill. The same thing when it comes to coverage of undocumented people in America. There is no coverage of undocumented people. This idea we’re going to take hundreds of billions of dollars out of Medicare — that isn’t in there either. There’s so much bad information out there.”

President Obama is the complainer-in-chief. He devoted his weekly radio address on August 22 to combating what he termed “willful misrepresentations and outright distortions, spread by the very folks who would benefit the most by keeping things exactly as they are.” He described the claims about coverage for illegal immigrants, abortion funding, and a government takeover as “outrageous myths.” He called for “honest debate.” On other occasions he has said that opponents of his health-care policies are fighting it with “fabrications,” “misinformation,” and “ludicrous ideas” about what’s in the legislation.

Senator Durbin is right: There is a lot of bad information out there, if the phrase denotes information that reduces support for Democratic health-care legislation. But all of the bad information he cited is either indisputably true or a reasonable opinion. On the issues that Durbin and Obama highlighted, the dissembling is coming from their side.

Even the most hyperbolic claim that the critics of congressional health-care legislation have made — that it would lead to “death panels” — isn’t a lie. The people who make this claim believe, first, that some proponents of liberal health-care legislation want to ration care and, second, that passage of the legislation would make that goal more likely. Those beliefs are both sincerely held and true. The phrase “death panels” may mislead some people into thinking that the bill literally establishes a panel that would choose by name who would live and who would die. But it encapsulates a sound argument.

So does the charge that the Democrats’ plans represent a “government takeover” of the health-care system or “socialized medicine.” The president emphasizes that the congressional bills do not create a single-payer system, as in Canada and Britain, in which taxpayers fund all or nearly all medical care. In August he even said, “I have not said that I was a single-payer supporter.” Conservatives called him a liar, since he has in the past called himself “a proponent of a single-payer universal health-care program,” but perhaps it was only a slip of the tongue: Maybe he meant only that he has not called for single-payer in the current legislative debate.

Liberals have a double standard on this question. They act as though any conservative who calls the Democrats’ health-care legislation a government takeover is uninformed, nuts, or cynically trying to take advantage of people who are uninformed or nuts. But they do not so treat other liberals who say that the bill will lead over time to a single-payer system. The bills include a “public option”: a new government-run insurance program open to anyone who wants in. Many liberals, such as the influential health-care expert Jacob Hacker, predict that this new government program will gradually take over — er, make that fill — the insurance market. (Mark Schmitt, writing at the liberal American Prospect’s website, says that the public option was designed to lead to single payer.) If it is reasonable to think that the bills will lead to a single-payer system, then isn’t it reasonable to say that the bills establish socialized medicine?

The only way to answer that question negatively is to deny that even single-payer — a government monopoly or near-monopoly on the financing of health care — would amount to socialized medicine. Ezra Klein has tried this gambit in the Washington Post. He notes that in single-payer systems the government does not employ health-care workers or “own the doctors.” The distinction between being employed by the government and paid by it may not be quite as important as Klein makes it out to be. But his unfortunate choice of the word “own” is instructive. Those of us who favor free-market medicine should be willing to concede that making doctors and nurses slaves of the government would indeed be more collectivist, more interventionist, than single-payer would be. A system that both enslaved the doctors and prescribed strict diets for the citizenry would be still more interventionist.

I bring up these dystopian scenarios to suggest that when we talk about “free-market medicine” or “socialized medicine” we are talking about matters of degree. One could easily make the case that we have a more-than-half-socialized medical system already, given that governments pay for one of every two dollars spent on health care and exert a vast influence on how the other dollar is spent. But it cannot really be denied that the plans Obama supports would yield a still more socialized system. Even if Congress drops the public option, the bills before it would still radically change the business models of health insurers while forcing everyone to buy their products. The resulting insurance industry would be just as “private” as the defense industry is — which is to say that it would be a creature of the government. Socialized medicine is, in short, a fair characterization of the Democrats’ legislation.

President Obama affects his familiar air of tested patience when dealing with the accusation that he supports cutting Medicare. Another falsehood, he calls it. In fact, the administration has talked about squeezing hundreds of billions of dollars out of future Medicare spending. Obama could say that he is reducing the growth of Medicare rather than cutting it, but that would require him to adopt a Republican baseline for measuring spending that he would be loath to apply anywhere else. Reading between the lines, the administration’s argument seems to be that savings will be made through increased efficiency; if beneficiaries receive the same level of service, their benefits will not have been cut. To doubt this happy story is not to lie.

The administration maintains that it can get $180 billion out of Medicare Advantage, the program that involves the private sector in delivering benefits to seniors, without harming patients. All of the savings will supposedly come from profits and overhead. Yet everyone knows that this hit to the companies will cause them to drop a lot of their customers — which is why many Democrats, hostile to corporate involvement in Medicare, favor it. This is one of several features of Democratic legislation that are impossible to square with the president’s oft-repeated assurance that, as he put it in his August 22 address, “if you like your private insurance plan, you can keep your plan. Period.”

Obama insists that health-care reform will not result in “government funding of abortions.” Those who claim that it will, he told a group of religious leaders, are ignoring the biblical injunction against “bearing false witness.” (He did not mention them by name, but the country’s Catholic bishops are among those who have borne that witness.) In his radio address he said, “When it comes to the current ban on using tax dollars for abortions, nothing will change under reform.” The current ban applies only to programs, such as Medicaid, that are funded in the annual spending bill for the Health and Human Services Department; the bills before Congress create new, separate funding streams for both the public option and for subsidies to help tens of millions of people buy insurance. Under all of the major bills moving through Congress, taxpayers will subsidize the purchase of insurance policies that cover abortion. The House version of the bill explicitly authorizes the secretary of health and human services to decree that the public option will cover abortion using funds from a Treasury account. The Senate bill has provisions that could easily be read by courts to require that private insurance plans cover abortion, too.

The president’s insistence that his party’s version of health-care reform will not provide coverage to illegal immigrants is, at best, disingenuous. The House health-care bill says that they are ineligible to receive tax credits to buy insurance. But the bills do not require that the legal status of beneficiaries be verified, and in committee deliberations most Democrats have voted against amendments to add that requirement. If the president does not know these facts, surely people around him do. Maybe there is an argument for providing health coverage to illegal immigrants, but the Democrats are not making it openly.

The president is, in fact, a font of misinformation about his administration’s signature initiative. Many of his falsehoods are no doubt unintentional. When he repeatedly says, for example, that health-care reform will make American businesses more competitive, he may be unaware that most health-care economists believe that employer-provided health coverage comes out of wages rather than profits. He may not know that the Congressional Budget Office agrees with those economists, or that Christina Romer, whom he appointed to run the Council of Economic Advisers, has described the competitiveness argument for health-care legislation as “schlocky.” This schlocky claim has achieved wide currency and a lot of people, perhaps including the president, sincerely believe it. But his false claims are consequential even if not deliberate. Nobody else’s words get as much attention; no other individual has done as much to reduce the truth quotient in the health-care debate.

And in some cases, notably those of immigration, abortion, Medicare, and the loss of private coverage, Obama has been misleading in a way that is hard to credit as innocent. On these issues, the liberal accusation that conservatives are lying seems pretty close to a lie itself — perhaps a case of projection.

Americans have increasing doubts about President Obama’s agenda but generally like him as a person. They consider him honest and trustworthy, and give him the benefit of the doubt. As the health-care debate continues, it becomes less and less clear that Obama deserves that trust.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bhospeech; democrats; healthcare; lie; obamacare; socializedmedicine

1 posted on 09/09/2009 6:28:45 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

They can blame it on anything they want biut the fact is that fewer and fewer people are believing their lies and distortions every day. Obama’s actions and appointments are making people sit up and take notice. The public is probably better informed right now than it has been in years.

2 posted on 09/09/2009 6:31:28 AM PDT by Scanian
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To: Scanian
Obama himself lied...blatantly...on MOnday in his speech when he said that the GOP offered nothing, no solution to healtch care. He knows that there are several bills written and proposed, but ignored by the DNC.

The fact is this, a steadfast, growing, purposeful, committed opposition to the destruction Obama and those who support him are causing has formed. Against him and the assinine foolishness associated with trying to transform this nation into a marxist construct, something that has proven to be so abjectly disasterous and failing everytime it has been tried in history. The Health Care issue has turned over this ant hill, and now it is being reflected in all of the polls.

Obama, the DNC, the far left and the MSM all fear this rising opposition and are finding they are incapable of controlling it or its spread. That is why they are desperately trying to demonize and categorizing traditional Americans. But the slumbering giant has stirred, and he is waking up hopping mad.


(Must Read - Shocking, cited quotes by Emanuel)





3 posted on 09/09/2009 6:33:10 AM PDT by Jeff Head (Freedom is not free...never has been, never will be. (
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To: SeekAndFind

Remember, it’s not a sin for a muslim to lie to infidels.

4 posted on 09/09/2009 6:46:08 AM PDT by BubbaBasher ("Liberty will not long survive the total extinction of morals" - Sam Adams)
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To: SeekAndFind
Public Option
5 posted on 09/09/2009 7:38:43 AM PDT by Docktor Doom
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To: SeekAndFind
Obama has been misleading in a way that is hard to credit as innocent. On these issues, the liberal accusation that conservatives are lying seems pretty close to a lie itself — perhaps a case of projection.

After the faux-objective niceness, Ponnuru comes out with what we all really know.

Zero and his minions are either stupid or dishonest, and if they were just stupid, wouldn't the law of averages incline them to come down on the right side of *one* issue, at least?

6 posted on 09/09/2009 9:35:33 AM PDT by Tax-chick ("This is our duty: to zot their sorry arses into the next time zone." ~ Admin Mod)
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To: SeekAndFind

The Demonrats have some gall to call anyone else a ‘liar’. It only proves that these people are not deserving of civility because they in no way practice it or give it. The core of that party is evil and lives on deceit and it is about damn time some Republican official step the hell up and call 0bama a LIAR. The word needs to be used. I have had it with the pleasantries and absurdity in thinking you can have civil discourse with these demons because you can’t. Palin has been great in being out front in taking them on, but even she has not gone so far as to outright call him a liar when it needs to be said and we know she could footnote that away to eternity. But enough with the refusal in calling the true liars out on this.

7 posted on 09/09/2009 9:55:49 AM PDT by bushfamfan (United States of America: July 4, 1776-November 4, 2008)
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To: SeekAndFind

Excellent article, thanks for posting. It’s actually getting surreal listening to the congressional Democrats and their MSM toadies spew their blatant untruths, and then turn around and complain that anyone who disagrees is “lying”.

8 posted on 09/09/2009 5:10:54 PM PDT by absalom01 (Claire Wolfe, call your office.)
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To: SeekAndFind

What happened to the source article linked at National Review?
I can’t find it.

9 posted on 09/09/2009 11:38:12 PM PDT by E-Mat (Made in China = Arms for Tyrants)
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To: E-Mat
What happened to the source article linked at National Review? I can’t find it.

Not sure what the problem is. I clicked on the link and it worked find for me.
10 posted on 09/10/2009 8:02:48 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

It’s back again.

11 posted on 09/10/2009 8:06:00 PM PDT by E-Mat (Made in China = Arms for Tyrants)
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