This is a line-by-line analysis of President Obama’s healthcare speech in Pennsylvania of March 8, 2010.
In his speech, Obama lies about the cost savings involved (off by only $.868 trillion–that is $868 billion). He lies when he makes it sound like Medicare and Medicaid are responsible for the costs of the health care mess (in his own words: "how many more years can the federal budget handle the crushing costs of Medicare and Medicaid?")thus showing what will soon be at the future of his list of "things to do" (cut entitlements). He also lies when he says his administration considered all possibilities for reform ("Every proposal has been put on the table"). Not so. Obama never entertained single payer at all.
His transcript (from the White House) is followed by my comments:
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Pennsylvania! (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. This is a nice crowd. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you. Well, what a wonderful crowd.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love you!
THE PRESIDENT: Love you back. (Applause.) I am — I’m kind of fired up. (Applause.) I’m kind of fired up. (Applause.) So, listen, we — this is just an extraordinary crowd and I –
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you!
THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. (Applause.) I want — there’s some people I want to point out who are here who’ve just been doing great work. First of all, give Leslie a great round of applause for her wonderful introduction. (Applause.)
Looks like Obama is back in campaign mode. Hasn’t even bothered to change his approach.
Somebody who’s been working tirelessly on your behalf, doing a great job — the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius is in the house. (Applause.)
Doesn’t it make you feel all warm and fuzzy to know that this nit wit, Sebelius, has been working "tirelessly" on our behalf. Doing what, besides pandering to the health care industry?
Your senior senator who has just been doing outstanding work in the Senate, Arlen Specter is in the house. (Applause.)
The guy who spent how many decades as a reliable Republican vote? Who stood behind Richard Nixon? Whose opponent is a progressive?
Somebody who rendered outstanding service to our nation before he was in Congress, Joe Sestak is in the house. (Applause.)
Makes it sound like his work in the House hasn’t been all that good! For somebody who is supposed to be clever with words, he isn’t.
It’s even better to be out of Washington, D.C. (Laughter.) First of all, the people of D.C. are wonderful. They’re nice people, they’re good people; love the city, the monuments, everything. But when you’re in Washington, folks respond to every issue, every decision, every debate, no matter how important it is, with the same question: What does this mean for the next election? (Laughter.) What does it mean for your poll numbers? Is this good for the Democrats or good for the Republicans? Who won the news cycle?
That’s just how Washington is. They can’t help it. They’re obsessed with the sport of politics.
Insider Obama, who has been in Washington, D.C. since what, 2004, plays the outsider card. The Spawn of the Devil, appointed and kept in office by Obama, isn’t obsessed with the "sport of politics"? Not straight talk from the supposed Top Dog.
But out here, and all across America, folks are worried about bigger things.
Maybe the first truthful thing Obama has said. Trouble is, much of it has happened on his watch, and on the watch in which Democrats have controlled the Senate and Congress since 2006.
They’re worried about how to make payroll. They’re worried about how to make ends meet. They’re worried about what the future will hold for their families and for our country. They’re not worrying about the next election. We just had an election. (Applause.)
No mention by Obama about the chief concern of the country: joblessness. Nor any mention about his efforts to create jobs, because he’s fumbled the ball on this for 14 months.
They’re thinking about retirement.
No mention here about the concerns of many Americans that Obama and his Democrats have entitlements in their focus. (See Obama’s remarks at the inauguration of the Hamilton Project in 2006) when he saw "entitlements" as a problem while standing in Bob Rubin’s shadow.
Despite all the challenges we face — two wars, the aftermath of a terrible recession — I want to tell everybody here today I am absolutely confident that America will prevail; that we will shape our destiny as past generations have done. (Applause.)
No mention here that it was Obama himself who expanded the wars, twice escalating in Afghanistan last year. Or that we have troops fighting in 5 different countries. Or that the Defense Department budget he asked for is 8% higher than W’s.
But that only happens when we’re meeting our challenges squarely and honestly. And I have to tell you, that’s why we are fighting so hard to deal with the health care crisis in this country; health care costs that are growing every single day.
Obama’s been fighting "an honest" fight on this? He’s talking about "health insurance reform". He’s the guy who promised to hold all meeting on health care reform in public and televise them live. He’s the guy who broke that pledge. He’s the who met behind locked doors in secret with leaders of the insurance companies and afterwards talked of "insurance reform", not health care reform. He’s the guy who denied those meetings happened until the New York Times broke the story. This is honesty and transparency?
The price of health care is one of the most punishing costs for families and for businesses and for our government. (Applause.) It’s forcing people to cut back or go without health insurance.
Notice his goal: health insurance, not health care reform. But Mr. President, to whom is that more helpful, the insurance companies or the people?
The young people who are here, you’ve heard stories — some of you guys still have health care while you’re in school, some of you may still be on your parents’ plans, but some of the highest uninsurance rates are among young people.
Completely misleading. Most of the young people without health care insurance don’t want it or need it.
And the insurance companies continue to ration health care based on who’s sick and who’s healthy; on who can pay and who can’t pay.
So that’s why Obama’s plan focuses on private insurance? If its rotten, why build on it? Dennis Kuchinich listened to Obama’s health care address to the Joint Houses of Congress several months ago and accurately said: "It’s the wrong approach. It’s a sell-out to the insurance companies." Obama continues his line of b.s. here.
And that’s why we need to pass health care reform — not next year, not five years from now, not 10 years from now, but now. (Applause.)
So what’s the excuse again, Mr. President, for many of the features of your plan not taking effect until well after you leave office?
Now, since we took this issue on a year ago, there have been plenty of folks in Washington who’ve said that the politics is just too hard. They’ve warned us we may not win. They’ve argued now is not the time for reform. It’s going to hurt your poll numbers. How is it going to affect Democrats in November? Don’t do it now.
Obama pretends he’s a fighter and the patsy crowd loves it.
Every year, the problem gets worse. Every year, insurance companies deny more people coverage because they’ve got preexisting conditions. Every year, they drop more people’s coverage when they get sick right when they need it most. Every year, they raise premiums higher and higher and higher.
Just last month, Anthem Blue Cross in California tried to jack up rates by nearly 40 percent — 40 percent. Anybody’s paycheck gone up 40 percent?
Tell us again, then, why you want private insurance as the basis for your plan, and not the simpler and more cost effective extension of Medicare to everyone?
I mean, why is it that we think this is normal? In my home state of Illinois, rates are going up by as much as 60 percent. You just heard Leslie, who was hit with more than a hundred percent increase — 100 percent. One letter from her insurance company and her premiums doubled. Just like that. And because so many of these markets are so concentrated, it’s not like you can go shopping.
Could the answer be, Mr. President, that the insurance companies know they have you and your administration in their back pocket?
See, these insurance companies have made a calculation. Listen to this. The other day, there was a conference call that was organized by Goldman Sachs. You know Goldman Sachs. You’ve been hearing about them, right? (Laughter.) So they organized a conference call in which an insurance broker was telling Wall Street investors how he expected things to be playing out over the next several years, and this broker said that insurance companies know they will lose customers if they keep on raising premiums, but because there’s so little competition in the insurance industry, they’re okay with people being priced out of the insurance market because, first of all, a lot of folks are going to be stuck, and even if some people drop out, they’ll still make more money by raising premiums on customers that they keep.
Can you explain, Mr. President, why you have so many top advisers in your administration from Goldman Sachs? Or why they were your biggest campaign contributor both as a Senator and for the Presidency? Better check out some of Matt Taibbi’s articles, Mr. President. Here Obama pretends he’s acting independently of Goldman, rather than being owned by them.
How many years — how many more years can the federal budget handle the crushing costs of Medicare and Medicaid?
Ahh! Obama perhaps unconsciously, states his REAL concern, and the real concern of Goldman Sachs. He makes it sound like Medicare and Medicaid are responsible for the state of the health care mess, rather than private insurance companies and politicians like himself. This is complete bull shit.
So what should I tell these Americans? That Washington is not sure how it will play in November? That we should walk away from this fight,
Obama pretends he’s actually fighting for average Americans, not for the insurance companies and Goldman Sachs.
We have debated health care in Washington for more than a year. Every proposal has been put on the table.
A blatant lie. Obama himself and his administration took "single payer" off the table from the get go. He also abandoned "the public option" early on. This guy lies.
On one side of the spectrum there were those at the beginning of this process who wanted to scrap our system of private insurance and replace it with a government-run health care system, like they have in some other countries. (Applause.) Look, it works in places like Canada, but I didn’t think it was going to be practical or realistic to do it here.
Obama must have thought: Damned crowd applaued at the wrong time! Again, Obama never seriously considered this option, and doesn’t here either.
So the bottom line is I don’t believe we should give government or insurance companies more control over health care in America. I believe it’s time to give you, the American people, more control over your own health insurance. (Applause.)
So why the mandate? Why the fines and prison terms if you’re giving people "control" over their own health insurance, because you’re not. Lying again, Mr. President.
This year, insurance companies will be banned forever from denying coverage to children with preexisting conditions. (Applause.) This year, they will be banned from dropping your coverage when you get sick. (Applause.) And they will no longer be able to arbitrarily and massively hike your premiums — just like they did to Leslie or Natoma or millions of others Americans. Those practices will end. (Applause.)
If this reform becomes law, all new insurance plans will be required to offer free preventive care to their customers starting this year — free check-ups so that we can catch preventable illnesses on the front end. (Applause.) Starting this year, there will be no more lifetime or restrictive annual limits on the amount of care that you can receive from your insurance companies. There’s a lot of fine print in there that can end up costing people hundreds of thousands of dollars because they hit a limit.
The same old campaign boilerplate without any details. But the devils in the details here. Misleading at best.
Number two, second thing that would change about the current system is this: For the first time in their lives — or oftentimes, in a very long time — uninsured individuals and small business owners will have the same kind of choice of private health insurance that members of Congress get for themselves. (Applause.)
Note the word "private" Obama uses; in fact, it’s the PUBLIC options that politicians have that are so good. And the Congress critters get lots more money to pay for additional private insurance, something not available to lots of American’s under Obama’s plan.
Now, the idea is very simple here, and it’s one — (audience interruption) — I’m sorry, go ahead. (Applause.) Let me explain how this would work, because it’s an idea that a lot of Republicans have embraced in the past.
Because Obama is essentially a Republican. The politician he revered was not FDR but Reagan, as he himself says in his autobiographical writings.
Because the wealthiest among us, they can already afford to buy the best insurance there is; the least well off are already covered through Medicaid. It’s the middle class that gets squeezed. That’s who we need to help with these tax credits. (Applause.) That’s what we intend to do. (Applause.)
Yup, that’s a Republican idea, about the only thing this guy fights for.
So I’ll give you an example. We’re going to eliminate wasteful taxpayer subsidies that currently go to insurance and pharmaceutical companies. (Applause.) They are getting billions of dollars a year from the government, from taxpayers, when they’re making a big profit. I’d rather see that money going to people who need it. (Applause.)
Very, very misleading. Obama himself took one of the best approaches off the table: importation of cheaper drugs from abroad.
We’ll set a new fee on insurance companies that stand to gain as millions of Americans are able to buy insurance. They’re going to have 30 million new customers; there’s nothing wrong with them paying a little bit of the freight. And we’ll make sure that the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share of Medicare, just like everybody else does. (Applause.)
Notice the lack of detail? How much of a fee? Who’s going to oversee its collection and enforcement? Penalty provisions, if any? What’s to guarantee it won’t last longer than a few months, if implemented at all?
So the bottom line is this: Our proposal is paid for.
This remark should be coupled with Obama’s following:
Our cost-cutting measures mirror most of the proposals in the current Senate bill, which reduces most people’s premiums and brings down our deficit by up to $1 trillion over the next decade because we’re spending our health care dollars more wisely. (Applause.) Those aren’t my numbers. Those aren’t my numbers –they are the savings determined by the Congressional Budget Office, which is the nonpartisan, independent referee of Congress for what things cost.
A lie, a big one. The Congressional Budget Office estimated savings over the next decade of only $132 billion, not $1 trillion. So, Obama overstates the Congressional Budget office projects by the better part of a trillion dollars, as one analysis of his speech notes:
That part is true. The budget office does keep score of what things cost. More precisely, the budget office projects what things cost or save over a given period of time.
But the budget office did not say the Senate health care bill would save $1 trillion over the next decade. Not even close.
It estimated the bill would save $132 billion from 2010 to 2019, leaving President Obama’s "next decade" estimate $868 billion short.
That’s some rounding error.
Back to Obama and yet more promises.
It would lower prescription drug prices for seniors. (Applause.) It would help train new doctors and nurses to provide care for American families and physicians assistants and therapists. I know there are — got great programs here at Arcadia. (Applause.) I was hearing about the terrific programs you have at Arcadia in the health care field. Well, you know what, we’re going to need more health care professionals of the sorts that are being trained here, and we want to help you get that training. And that’s in this bill. (Applause.)
Where’s the chicken in every pot in this happy, Frank Capra like scenario?
Finally, my proposal would bring down the cost of health care for millions — families, businesses, and the federal government. (Applause.) As I said, you keep on hearing from critics and some of the Republicans on these Sunday shows say, well, we want to do more about cost. We have now incorporated almost every single serious idea from across the political spectrum about how to contain the rising cost of health care — ideas that go after waste and abuse in our system, including in programs like Medicare. But we do this while protecting Medicare benefits, and we extend the financial stability of the program by nearly a decade.
Our cost-cutting measures mirror most of the proposals in the current Senate bill, which reduces most people’s premiums and brings down our deficit by up to $1 trillion over the next decade because we’re spending our health care dollars more wisely. (Applause.)hose aren’t my numbers. Those aren’t my numbers –they are the savings determined by the Congressional Budget Office, which is the nonpartisan, independent referee of Congress for what things cost.
Obama’s off by only about $800 billion: so give the Commander in Chief some leeway? They ARE his numbers.
Now, think about it. I think — how many people would like a proposal that holds insurance companies more accountable?
That’s like making pit bull terriers more accountable. How about a proposal that makes them completely superfluous and unnecessary, like single payer?
The United States Congress owes the American people a final, up or down vote on health care. (Applause.) It’s time to make a decision. The time for talk is over. We need to see where people stand. And we need all of you to help us win that vote. So I need you to knock on doors. Talk to your neighbors. Pick up the phone. When you hear an argument by the water cooler and somebody is saying this or that about it, say, no, no, no, no, hold on a second. And we need you to make your voices heard all the way in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
Weak. Obama perhaps hasn’t seen the poll numbers showing the American people already overwhelmingly don’t like his plan. If Congressman in the Democratic party are smart, they’ll vote against it, or be cannon fodder come November.
That’s what Mitch McConnell said this weekend. His main argument was, well, this is going to be really bad for Democrats politically. Now, first of all, I generally wouldn’t take advice about what’s good for Democrats. (Laughter.) But setting aside that, that’s not the issue here. The issue here is not the politics of it.
But the issue IS political, Sir. Obama shows he doesn’t understand the nature of American politics. Political parties are there to express differences, that is their historic purpose. Why pretend their is a bipartisan, nonpolitical middle way? That hasn’t exactly worked for you, has it Barack?
Yes, it’s hard. It is hard. That’s because health care is complicated. Health care is a hard issue. It’s easily misrepresented.
As you, Mr. Obama, misrepresented in your speech on both costs and on the history of how the bill as it is came to be: you did NOT consider all options, contrary to your words above. Please stop pretending you are not a politician.
So let me remind everybody: Those of us in public office were not sent to Washington to do what’s easy. We weren’t sent there because of the big fancy title. We weren’t sent there to — because of a big fancy office. We weren’t sent there just so everybody can say how wonderful we are. We were sent there to do what was hard. (Applause.)
What’s your excuse again, for abandoning most of the plans and policies you ran on again then?
So I’ll be honest with you. I don’t know how passing health care will play politically, but I do know that it’s the right thing to do. (Applause.) It’s right for our families. It’s right for our businesses. It’s right for the United States of America.
When any politician, especially this accomplished liar, tells you he’s "being honest": look out!
What he really means it’s good for insurance companies and it’s good for politicians like him because those insurance companies will then be forced to handover lots of money to political hacks.
Let’s seize reform. It’s within our grasp.
This is reform? Recall again what Dennis Kucinich called it: "the wrong approach. A sell-out to the insurance companies." Once again, Obama was given a prime-time shot to explain his health "insurance reform" proposals but failed to provide any compelling reasons or details for anyone to support him. He misled, he obfuscated, and yes, he lied.
Obama’s actions remind me of the delightful movie that was made out of Agatha Christie’s "Witness For the Prosecution". At the movie’s climax, the inimitable Charles Laughton (as the British barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts) accuses the testifying Marlene Dietrich (as Christine Vole):
"The question is whether you were lying then or are you lying now… or whether in fact you are a chronic and habitual L I A R!