Time will tell if President Obama managed to hit the “reset” button with his Wednesday evening speech to Congress on healthcare. But as long as the American public firmly divided into three camps – those who want free healthcare at any cost, those who want none of it and those who are utterly confused by the whole idea – the process will remain unpopular.
Soaring oratory and grand gestures will not turn former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin or Congressman Joe Wilson to acolytes of government-run healthcare. The “tea-baggers” will never ask for a cube of his sugar. The President, if he is to succeed, must accept this and build a thick skin. And to win the healthcare debate, Obama must convert the confused. Because they are based on good politics and not good policy, even without the so-called “misinformation” by his opponents, the president’s positions on healthcare are confusing enough, all by themselves.
Obama made a fairly bold assertion as he framed the health care debate saying that “our health care problem is our deficit problem.” The logic that follows, is that the status quo costs the government more than the “reform” Obama proposes. That assertion raises several unanswered questions which is where the confusion begins.
If “our health care problem is our deficit problem” why does the healthcare “solution” require a “tax increase” to succeed? That sounds as though “taxes” are the President’s budget solution and “healthcare reform” is just a vehicle to raise them.
If there is a “trigger” to prompt the creation of a public healthcare option – a government-run system – why not make the “trigger” the realization of enough savings from healthcare reform to pay for the public option? Now that would signal a genuine commitment to making our healthcare solution a deficit solution!
If “our health care problem is our deficit problem” then why would the reforms proposed by the White House “not apply to those who are here illegally?” Even if you forget the basic matter of how, exactly, how a large chunk of people can be excluded from such a radical reform, you still have a logical fallacy: If healthcare reforms will result in deficit savings, as the President professes, then why exclude the potential savings from the 15 million undocumented, uninsured immigrants in America?
On the flip side, if it costs money to include illegal immigrants in healthcare reform, then how, exactly, is healthcare reform a deficit solution? If we are trying to get people insured so that emergency rooms are no longer the primary caregivers for the uninsured, then why keep a system that is broken and costly for 15 million people, whether they are here legally or not?
It seems that good politics has prevailed over good policy when it comes to making decisions in the Obama White House. Like it or not, many Americans are thinkers. They have abondoned the two-party system because, like Progressive Libertarians, neither side truly reflects their views or their ideas of how the nation’s two political parties conduct our affairs. And when these thinking Americans listen to what is being said about healthcare, it is all literally and utterly confusing. And that’s not a winning strategy with the American public.