by Roland Lindsey
Despite much media adulation over the President's speech on Health Care, we didn't hear anything last night we haven't heard before. There are all the same reforms we have heard over and over again, with a token nod toward tort reform, much like a cherry on top. He still stands by a public option, a position I find weakened by his own admission that only 5% of Americans would sign up for such an option. If so few will use it, why is it so critical?
He gave an impassioned defense of liberalism, while first acknowledging the base conservative leanings of Americans. Pledging allegiance to neither side, he struck a centrist tone while asking Americans to consider proper government involvement in their lives. This is a reasonable question, and anyone who would argue that Utopia can be found in either extreme needs to study history.
But in the end, we are left where we were in the last days of July. More of the same.
The Republican response was a caricature of what we have come to expect of the Republicans throughout this entire debate. First up was Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) shouting "You lie!" to the President during his speech. This was a shameful display of bad manners regardless of whether or not he is correct. In this case, he is indisputably wrong. Illegal immigrants are specifically barred from receiving any federal health care in the legislation. But being correct is not high on the Republican agenda these days, much to our nation's injury.
Throughout this process, both sides have come down on the wrong side of reality more than a few times, but Republicans have become notable for complete fabrications. From "Death Panels" to calling the public option a "government takeover of the health care industry", the Republicans have played fast and loose with the truth time and again.
Despite the fact that Conservatives concern themselves with reality, the Republicans preferred the fiction once again. Representative Charles Boustany (R-FL) let loose with many of the memes that have marginalized Conservatives throughout this debate. And this is a shame, because we need a strong Conservative presence in this country. Appeals to unreality is not an attractive trait to intelligent voters.
Rep Boustany began by saying that most Americans wanted the President to tell Congress he wanted them to start over. A CNN poll taken at the beginning of the month indicated that 25% wanted them to start over, with 53% wanting the legislation to be passed with minor or major changes. 25% is not most Americans. An AP poll taken this week claimed 4 out of 10 Americans wanted Congress to start over, and the same percentage wanted them to pass the legislation.
REALITY: Most Americans did not want the President to tell Congress to start over.
Rep. Boustany claimed that "Replacing your family's health care with government-run health care is not the answer." He may be right about that. But there two components of this statement fly in the face of reality.
The President quoted the CBO in saying that only 5% of Americans would use the public option, and that it would only go to those who currently do not have health care. The President wasn't just making that up; the CBO analyzed the legislation and determined that only 10-11 million Americans would use the option.
REALITY: You cannot replace something you don't already have. No one is replacing anything with the public option.
And labeling the public option "Government-run health care" is even more ridiculous. It simply isn't government-run health care. It is a government-run insurance company. It isn't even taking over the insurance industry, rather entering it as a severely restricted competitor. And even then, it's only competing for individuals that don't even buy insurance anyway.
REALITY: Nothing in the President's plan amounts to government-run health care, unless you count modifications to Medicare. And according to what I've seen these last few months, there is no support among Republicans for ending Medicare.
Next, Rep. Boustany's assault on reality exploded full force, leaving no truth standing.
"I read the bill Democrats passed through committee in July. It creates 53 new government bureaucracies, adds hundreds of billions to our national debt, and raises taxes on job-creators by $600 billion. And, it cuts Medicare by $500 billion, while doing virtually nothing to make the program better for our seniors."
Well, perhaps one truth is left standing, I don't deny that he read HR 3200. I do deny his comprehension of aforementioned legislation.
REALITY: HR 3200 does not create 53 new government bureaucracies. Go read the bill yourself. It simply doesn't.
REALITY: The President has called for a budget-neutral bill, enforced by mandatory budget cuts if it does add to the deficit. It doesn't add hundreds of billions to our national debt. And if it does, cuts would be required by law.
REALITY: It doesn't raise taxes on "job-creators" by $600 billion, unless you consider everyone who makes over $350,000 a year a "job-creator".
REALITY: $500 billion in projected increases are cut, meaning that nothing is really being cut, it's just not being increased. What is being increased is an additional $240 billion in payments to doctors. The CBO says that net savings will be around $241 billion.
After listing the precious few bona fide ideas the Republicans have for Health Care Reform, he ends on this note, saying, "These are common-sense reforms we can achieve right away – without destroying jobs, exploding the deficit, rationing care, or taking away the freedom American families cherish." Doomsday, full steam ahead!
REALITY: This legislation may destroy a job or two, or create a job or two, but it won't explode the deficit, ration care, or take away the freedom American families cherish. It just won't.
Are Conservatives concerned with reality? Are Republicans conservative? If Conservatives are, then Republicans aren't.