Listening to President Obama explain "his" health care plan, I can't help but wonder if he actually believes his own words. Maybe it's been so long since the adoring press corps has held him accountable for his innumerable exaggerations, omissions and misstatements that he believes he can create a new reality simply by speaking it into existence. However, for anyone who's been paying attention, the President's recent health care pep rally disguised as a press conference was littered with statements that just don't square with reality:
• Obama: "So let me be clear: if we do not control these costs, we will not be able to control the deficit."
Here, the President comes so close to the truth as to stare into its eyes before veering away like an over-correcting teenage driver on a country road.
Medicare and Medicaid, the government's previous forays into health care, are devouring the budget and exploding deficits. Controlling the costs of those programs should be the target, but few in Congress have demonstrated the courage to do so.
Instead, Obama's prescription is to fix these fiscal disasters by expanding government's authority over what's left of the voluntary private health care market. That's like your doctor wanting to break your right arm to be sure he sets your broken left arm correctly.
• Obama: "I have also pledged that health insurance reform will not add to our deficit over the next decade — and I mean it."
Reminds me of the famous "read my lips" pledge by the first President Bush. We all know how well that worked out.
Congress has consistently under-estimated the costs of government health care programs. Medicare cost $3 billion when first implemented in 1966. At that time, costs for 1990 were estimated at $12 billion (allowing for inflation), but actual costs in 1990 were $107 billion — or 791% greater.
When the Congressional Budget Office pegs the cost of ObamaCare at an opening bid of $1 trillion (others estimate as much as $4 trillion), that should scare the pants off anybody who cares about how deeply in debt we bury our children and grandchildren.
• Obama: "In addition to making sure that this plan doesn't add to the deficit in the short-term, the bill I sign must also slow the growth of health care costs in the long run."
CBO economists recently told a Senate committee that the current legislation, which the President admits he "isn't familiar with," would actually make matters worse by "significantly expand(ing) federal responsibility for health care costs." Over the long run federal spending would keep rising at an "unsustainable pace."
• Obama: "It will keep government out of health care decisions, giving you the option to keep your insurance if you're happy with it."
What's the point of this huge expansion of the federal health care bureaucracy if not to put government — instead of silly, selfish citizens — in charge?
If the President really believes what he says, then the prescription is simple: repeal federal laws governing private health care. That's the surest way to "keep government out of health care decisions."
That, however, would undermine the nanny-statists inherent desire to regulate and tax everything that might adversely affect your health. And then why would you need government?
Instead, Obama and the Democrats demand that you purchase insurance, micro-manage the coverage you must buy, empower the IRS to penalize you should you refuse, and establish a government commission to decide which treatments your doctor can provide for you.
All this from the President who says, "When you hear the naysayers claim that I’m trying to bring about government-run health care, know this: They’re not telling the truth."
Whatever you say, Pinnochio.
Mark Hillman served as Colorado Senate majority leader and state treasurer. To read more or comment, go to www.MarkHillman.com