- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Revenge of the Fallen.” In that film going into wide release tomorrow, ordinary and useful objects quickly metamorphize into something unexpectedly destructive. Listening to Mr. Obama’s words at his press conference yesterday, we realized that he deploys his words like decipticons. “If you like your plan and you like your doctor, you won’t have to do a thing. You keep your plan; you keep your doctor. If your employer’s providing you good health insurance, terrific. We’re not going to mess with it.” It is the same promise that Mr. Obama made continually through the presidential campaign.

If you parse carefully, you can just catch his words in the midst of their transformation.

Mr. Obama’s pleasant words about keeping your doctors and your health plans simply are literally true, but misleading. Technically the government is not going to legislate millions of Americans into public health care. But that’s where they will end up, once the federal government offers a plausible alternative to private plans. Employers will soon decide it is cheaper to dump their employees into the clutches of the public system than to pay skyrocketing private health-care costs. Any other decision is simply bad business, they will say. It will not be a matter of choice for most people, unless they happen to own the firm that employs them.

What about Mr. Obama’s claim that he won’t “mess” with private health insurance? Another decepticon. Within the same press conference, the president listed a string of sizeable changes to health insurance, including a ban on “preclud[ing] people from getting health insurance because of a pre-existing condition.” Or consider Mr. Obama’s plans for the federal government to end “unnecessary” surgery?

Mr. Obama’s final decepticon was so subtle it might have sneaked by you. Remember the president’s frequent campaign promise not to force people to get health insurance if they didn’t want it? At the press conference he said: “we make sure that everybody is benefiting.” The only way for every one to “benefit” is for every one to be inside the Obama Health Plan.

We know why Mr. Obama transmits such soothing words. Some 77 percent of Americans are either somewhat or very satisfied with their health care, according to a recent CBS-New York Times poll. People generally like their doctors and have largely figured out how to navigate the pitiless maze of their insurance coverage. They will fight any fix that involves new doctors or strange new rules. Yet Mr. Obama’s plan involves both. That’s why the president needs his decepticons.



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