Regarding health care, President Obama is telling us what we must do rather than selling us on it. This violates a good sales person’s first two principles: find out what your buyers want and when they want it.
Mark Penn, a former pollster for both Bill and Hillary Clinton, confirms that in a recent column. Penn writes, “A February CNN poll puts voter support for the current bill (or a similar variant thereof) at just 25%. An equal percentage thinks Congress should forget health care reform altogether, while 48% think they should start work on an entirely new bill. Of more concern to any Democrat with an eye on re-election, independents remain unmoved by the arguments in reform's favor, with only 18% supporting it and 52% calling for an entirely new bill. The public's voice has been loud, clear and consistent. They say, fix the economy first. More than half (52%) name jobs or the economy as their top issue in a recent New York Times poll compared to 13% that name health care.”
As the president is fond of saying, “make no mistake” and make no mistake about this: Ramming health care reform through Congress is about empowering Obama—not us. According to Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who attended one of the meetings the president is holding to lobby lawmakers, Obama said, “To maintain a strong presidency, we need to pass the bill.”
What Obama is trying to impose (not sell) is the transformation of America into a welfare state organized around crushing debt, cradle-to-grave dependency, bureaucracy, and big government mandates and controls. If he succeeds, America risks losing its preference for individual freedoms, choices, limited government, and economic leadership.
Note that the president’s health care reform is a bait-and-switch maneuver -- where cuts to patients and doctors, special favors to special interests (like unions) and unsustainable spending and tax increases are either disguised in the short term or deferred to years when Obama would be re-elected or out of office.
As Andrew McCarthy has written, "Health care is a loser for the Left only if the Right has the steel to undo it. The Left is banking on an absence of steel.” In other words, Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have suggested that even losing many Democratic seats in the 2010 elections is worth the Faustian bargain of winning a restructured, socialized America. As Mark Steyn says, “The short history of the postwar welfare state is that you don't need a president-for-life if you've got a bureaucracy-for-life.” Obama is betting that the Republicans won’t have the guts to dismantle his health care reform if it passes.
In telling rather than selling—by making any backroom deal, payoff, or using a parliamentary maneuver like reconciliation to force his health care reform bill through Congress—President Obama is banking on his steel to do it and our lack of steel to stop it.
The question is, will we buy that? Will we allow America to become a country where we do as we’re told rather than a country where we only do when we’re sold?
Communications consultant Jon Kraushar is at www.jonkraushar.net.
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