Saturday, September 12, 2009

Obama Health Care Speech Before Congress: Disingenuous At Best

In the attached Cato Institute podcast Michael Tanner reviews President Obama's health care reform speech before Congress on 9/9/09. Mr. Tanner's keen insights into the President's speech leave Americans to continue to be mindful of the 'devils in the details' of Mr. Obama's proposed health care reform package.

Mr. Tanner's perspective is that, fundamentally, the President's speech was a plea to far-left and Blue Dog democrats to support his health care reform measures 'as is' for passage and not an invitation to Congress for bi-partisan cooperation and review of the controversial aspects of his plan.

Among other points, Mr. Tanner challenges the health insurance 'choice' mantra within Mr. Obama's rhetoric. The President drew analogies between his health care proposal and auto insurance and his promise that Americans with employer-sponsored coverage will be empowered to choose their health insurance coverage. But the President never proposed in his speech a choice proposal that would permit individuals to purchase their health insurance across state lines, a la auto insurance, as a means to drive down premiums and afford greater choices of coverage.

In addition, the President continued to promote the choice individuals will have between a government option and private insurers within their employer-sponsored plans. However the President also continues to fail to mention the obvious price differences between public and private insurance options that will basically force a 'choice' on Americans. Mr. Tanner concedes that Mr.Obama's message to Congress and the American people was disingenuous at best.

Michael Tanner heads research at the Cato Institute on a variety of domestic policies with a particular emphasis on health care reform, social welfare policy, and Social Security. His most recent book," Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution" (2007), chronicles the demise of the Republican party as it has shifted away from its limited government roots and warns that reform is necessary to avoid electoral defeat in 2008. His other books include, "Healthy Competition: What's Holding Back Health Care and How to Free It" (Second Edition, 2007), "The Poverty of Welfare: Helping Others in Civil Society" (2003), and "A New Deal for Social Security" (1998). Before joining Cato in 1993, Tanner served as director of research of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and as legislative director for the American Legislative Exchange Council.

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