Last fall Barack Obama campaigned promising change. Many Americans wanted change. They wanted to change Washington. But Obama meant something very different. He wanted to use Washington to change America. Having the government take over hospitals, doctors, health insurance and life and death decisions is not what most Americans thought they were voting for.
President Obama began his presidency with very high approval ratings. But as Americans watched him take over the banks with bailouts, and take over the car companies with bailouts and spend almost a trillion dollars for a Ã¢â‚¬Â¦stimulus spending package of expensive earmarks and sign a budget with another trillion in new spending-- with some nine trillion dollars now to be added to the national debt--the idea of having government take over health care began to look less and less wise.
When Obama said Ã¢â‚¬Â¦"reform" he clearly meant Ã¢â‚¬Â¦"take over." Reform the auto companies. Reform the banking system. Obama would use our tax dollars so he could buy and control whole industries.
When Americans began questioning what Obama and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi were doing they found themselves insulted by the politicians who didnÃ‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¢t like the rabble asking pesky questions. Barack Obama doesnÃ‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¢t like his inferiors asking questions like--will the Democrat Congressmen who vote for a Ã¢â‚¬Â¦public option on health care actually live with that public option--or is the public option just for little people?
President Obama was brutally honest when he said the government run Ã¢â‚¬Â¦public option would be like the Post Office. We have, Obama pointed out, a government run post office and privately run UPS and FedEx. Therefore you have choice. Sort of. The federal government taxes UPS and FedEx. The government-run post office does not pay federal or state corporate income taxes or local property taxes. FedEx and UPS do. And it is against the law for you to try and send a first class letter through anyone other than the post office. Well if the government option can tax its competitors and can pass laws to create a monopoly--how is this real choice?
Obama also has a problem because many Americans have friends or relatives with some experience with government run health care in Canada or Britain where the government rations care by making citizens wait to see a doctor, take a test or use a CAT scan or MRI. In Britain, one waits an average of 70 days for cataract surgery, 68 days for bypass surgery, 99 days for hernia repair (ouch), 113 days for tonsillectomy. Median wait times in Canada from general practitioner to seeing a specialist is 9.4 weeks for gynecology. It is on average another 7 weeks between seeing the specialist and getting treatment.
Would the U.S. government ration health care if they ran the health care system? Well, president Obama has already given us the answer. The post office, his model for a public health care system, is losing money (Interesting question how a monopoly loses money). What is the post office response to losing money? Becoming more efficient? No. They will ration post office care by closing on Saturdays. Years ago they rationed by ending twice daily delivery of the mail. Now when you get sick, the government may be closed on Saturdays. Rationing. No fun if you are sick.
Obama promised that health care reform would reduce your insurance costs. And give insurance coverage to 49 million folks with no insurance. Sounded good. Sounded painless. If you were happy with your insurance nothing would change. But now we learn that the government needs one, two or maybe three trillion dollars to give us this new lower-costing health care. If it costs less, what are all the trillions of higher taxes going towards? And now that we read the fine print, we find that there are four general tax hikes in the House of Representatives health care bill. Not just taxes on the rich but on those making less than $250,000 a year, a blatant violation of Obama's central campaign promise not to raise Ã¢â‚¬Â¦"any formof taxes on these families. And new regulations will prevent 30 million American families with flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts from purchasing over the counter medicines. And Medicare will be raided by taking away choices for seniors. You and I are going to pay through the nose for this experiment.
All this pain for what?
For the past eight years Democrats have been voting against and filibustering two important reforms that would help all Americans. First, allowing you to buy your health insurance from any of the 50 states. Right now you are stuck buying insurance from businesses in your state, often with expensive mandates pushed on you by the state legislators and lobbyists for special interests This reform alone, known as the Shadegg bill, would drop the cost of health care an average of 15%. Not bad. Democrats have spent years opposing this fix.
Second, we need to reform tort law--stop the trial lawyer billionaires from suing your doctor and hospital to push up the costs of your health care. Obama, Reid and Pelosi owe the trial lawyer billionaires a great deal. They cannot say no to them. So no reform there. Some suggest that such reforms would save billions in legal fees but also tens of billions in lower costs of so called Ã¢â‚¬Â¦"defensive medicine" forced by the trial lawyers.
And lastly, Republicans are putting forward legislation that would require all hospitals to post their actual prices for operations on the Internet so we can shop around--like we do with everything else in life. That would generate real price competition that does not exist in today-- highly regulated health care.
Health care is too expensive in America. That is because it is taxed, regulated and sued too much. We need less government in between us and our doctors. Fewer parasitical trial lawyers and more competition free from government created monopolies.
One government run post office is already too many.
Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform. Follow him on Twitter @GroverNorquist.