President Obama gave his 28th speech on health care reform to a joint session of Congress this past week. Too bad the presidency doesn't consist solely of such "big occasion" speeches. The president excels in this area. Unfortunately, the basic principles he enunciated in this 28th rendition suffered from the same defects as the first 27 and explains why the public is resisting this latest version.
There are no cost containment measures in the health care bill. If the president's latest plan is enacted, costs will go UP, not down. By adding millions of new consumers of health care to a static pool of health care providers, the simple law of supply and demand can provide no other outcome than to increase the cost. Costs will either rise or available care must be rationed. In addition, further cuts to Medicare providers will shift costs even further onto private plans. Finally, lawsuits against medical providers remain unchecked, adding hundreds of thousands of dollars to health care costs.
Americans' health care choices will decrease, not increase. A government bureaucracy run by an unelected commissioner will determine which services and benefits must be included in every health care plan in America. This can only reduce competition among providers. If you do not have an "approved" plan, the Internal Revenue Service can fine you. What does the health care bureaucrat know about your health care that you do not? Do you want the IRS to have access to your medical records? Such federal regulation of insurance providers is the "public option" by another name.
State finances will become far worse. The states currently pay around 43% of all costs for Medicaid, the government program that helps poor Americans with their medical bills. Congressional plans call for huge increases in Medicaid eligibility (up to 133% of the poverty line) and spending. States will be faced with the mother of unfunded mandates and almost certainly have to raise taxes on individuals with income of less than $200,000, a violation of President Obama's "prime directive" on taxation.
Job creation and economic growth will suffer. The plan will substantially increase federal spending on health care. Part of the spending will be financed by tax increases, the rest by adding to the federal deficit, which is already scheduled to DOUBLE in the next seven years. This can only inhibit job creation at a time when unemployment is heading toward double digits. Why would the president endorse a plan that would delay economic recovery at a time that more and more Americans are looking for work?
The president was eloquent as usual on behalf of his ideas. The problem is that the American public has already spoken: we do not want what the president is proposing. It is hardly heroic for congressional liberals to demand radical changes to satisfy their ideological imperatives by risking the seats of moderate Democrats. We will soon see if the moderates will cooperate in their own destruction.
Frank Donatelli is Chairman of GOPAC, the center for training and electing the next generation of Republican leaders.