It’s really strange how when a crisis occurs, all the policies that people have been proposing for years suddenly become solutions to that crisis. And so it is with this line from President Obama:
In a nationally televised address marking his first six months in office, Obama said overhauling the U.S. health-care system is “central” to his prescription for rebuilding the economy and making it stronger.
As far as I know, Democrats have been wanting health-care reform for decades, even those that didn’t contain economic recessions. What’s the chance that this was the solution for our economic ills all along? Or is it more likely that the President read the opinion polls and saw that everyone was worried about the economy, so decided to sell the healthcare reform plan as a solution in order to get their attention?
The problem is that giving more people health insurance is going to cost money. And right now we’ve been spending a lot of money, and we’re going to have less money — that is what a recession is, right? So then Obama (who is actually, at the time of this post, at the Cleveland Clinic in a private meeting with its CEO) has this weird disconnect:
Members of both parties are balking at the proposed $1-trillion price tag — and how to pay for it.
But Obama insisted the country’s budget deficit will continue to grow unless skyrocketing health-care costs are brought under control. He said the consequence of inaction will be higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs and thousands more people losing coverage every day.
“The budget deficit will grow unless we spend billions more dollars!” If in response to my complaints (yes, hubris alert), the President is actually stopping by my town’s high school (not exactly enemy territory, if you know our voting tendencies) later in the day to address concerns and answer questions. A good question would be “How the heck are we going to pay for this?”
But even some moderate-to-conservative members of Obama’s party — the so-called Blue Dog Democrats — say they are concerned about the potential side-effects of health-care reform, such as tax hikes, government control and an even larger deficit.
But Obama reiterated his pledge that any bill he signs will not add to the country’s soaring deficit. “And I mean it,” he said.
He also vowed to reject any measure “primarily funded through taxing middle class families.”
Look, you can’t just blatantly say these things. People will ask questions. You can’t have a trillion dollars of healthcare reform without A) increasing the deficit or B) increasing taxes on some middle class people. Or you could C) cut lots of spending elsewhere — but if someone on Obama’s team has a list of a trillion in spending they could cut, I havent’ seen it. And both A and B seem like bad ideas during a poor economic climate. It’s almost as if the recession makes massive spending bills like healthcare reform less likely, instead of necessary. (more…)