President Obama Fails to Move the Ball

Published September 9, 2009

The president’s speech to a joint session of Congress failed to move the health reform ball closer to the goalposts. Instead of bringing much-needed clarity to the issues, it was yet another laundry list of platitudes and generalities, just a listing of the provisions already in the bills in Congress. This is exactly what the public did not need and was not looking for.

Keep in mind that this proposal is huge. It will directly affect each and every American for generations. It will control fully 17 percent of the national economy. This is far bigger than Social Security or Medicare. It may be the biggest domestic initiative since 1913, when enactment of the 16th amendment created a federal income tax.

People have a right to know how this thing will work. What benefits will be covered? What premiums will be charged? How much will subsidies be worth? How will it be enforced? What is the long-term cost? How will it be paid for?

But answering those questions would require Mr. Obama to get beyond his campaign mode and get into actually governing. The man is proving he is incapable of doing anything but give a speech. He gave one to the AFL-CIO in Cincinnati on Monday, and another to the kids in Virginia on Tuesday, and another at the Cronkite memorial in New York Wednesday afternoon, all before this health care speech Wednesday evening in Washington. This was the 29th speech devoted exclusively to health care since he became president.

If he would stop running his mouth for a few days, he might be able to actually find out what is in the legislation he is promoting. But every time he talks, support for the proposal goes down. People listen to him and realize he doesn’t know what he is talking about.

So it is this time. The rock ’em, sock ’em partisan pep rally might energize some of his most ardent followers, but that energy will fade within hours, and the ugly reality will still be with us. It is a hideous, incomprehensible bill that turns all decision-making over to a handful of elitist bureaucrats.

Greg Scandlen ([email protected]) is director of Consumers for Health Care Choices at The Heartland Institute.