The president continued his health care campaign stump with his weekly address. He continued with his new campaign talking points that call it "health insurance reform" rather than "health care reform". He continued with the demonization of health insurance companies. There were several stories of Americans that were dropped for pre existing conditions or can't find coverage due to pre existing conditions. The president pointed out that 12,000 people lose their health insurance every single day. He said that without health insurance reform premiums would go to an average of $22,000 yearly within the next ten years. The problem for the president is that poll after poll says that Americans are more afraid of the government than of health insurance companies. So, while he's found a good target to demonize, Americans are actually afraid of what he will do more than what health insurance companies are doing now.
The president again tried to dispel the "rumor" that health insurance reform would create a "death panel" that would decide if elderly get treated. That the president continues to defend himself against this accusation, made famous by Sarah Palin, is a sign of just how on the defense he has become. As Kirsten Powers once observed, if you have to convince the country that your health care plan won't kill grandma, the plan is in trouble. The president also proclaimed that fear mongers also predicted that Social Security would lead to government snooping and Medicare/Medicaid would lead to "socialized medicine". He pointed to the effectiveness of those three programs. It's interesting that he thinks those are three programs that are a shining example of government effectiveness since they're all near BANKRUPTCY. If the president thinks that his health care reform will lead us to where Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid have lead us, then we're all really in trouble.
The president then went through the talking points of the things that health insurance reform will give Americans: full access to insurance, no dropping anyone due to pre existing conditions, everyone keeps their coverage, etc. He said one very interesting thing.
if you can't afford health insurance now, you'll have access to quality and affordable health care
Think about that for a minute. If people that can't afford health insurance will get quality and affordable health insurance, that's something everyone will want. After all, if it's affordable to those that can't now afford it, it will certainly be affordable to those that can afford private insurance. Where will this health insurance come from? Will it be open to everyone? Unwittingly, the president just promised single payer.
Finally, again, the president continued to create a strawman argument. He continues to put his health care reform ideas up against the status quo, as if there are no alternatives to what he and his allies have proposed. He continues to berate his opponents as for the "status quo" and warns the country of the "price of inaction". The reality is that almost no one wants to do nothing. There are plenty of ideas for health care reform. There are plenty of ways to reform the system. In fact, the president continues this straw man argument so much that I wonder if he really does believe that it's his way or nothing. Dick Morris once recalled that he told Hillary after her package failed that she should look at a compromise that Bob Dole had created. She flatly refused saying that you can't reform the system marginally. I wonder if President Obama also feels that it's either his government takeover or nothing.
Senator Orrin Hatch delivered the Republican response. He hit on most of the Republican talking points. The money line was "more spending, more taxes and more government control is not the answer". Hatch said that we could reform heath care based on four principles.
1)reforming the health insurance market so that everyone has access to health insurance and those with pre existing conditions wouldn't be dropped or denied
2)protecting those that are covered by expanding markets, providing tax breaks, and tort reform
3)giving states more power to cover the uninsured
4)empower small businesses to provide for their employees health care needs.
There is a proposal moving through Congress that would grant small businesses the power to join together to form unions to buy insurance together.
Hatch pointed out that Medicare has $38 trillion in unfunded liabilities. How's that for a government program that is a shining example of success. Hatch then hammered the Democrats by saying that their vision of reform is to cut benefits in order to expand Medicaid and expand federal government control and power.
The two addresses were another week of dueling talking points and since the Republicans have the wind at their backs that plays into their hands.