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Fact Check – BHO’s Healthcare Claims

From, of all places, the Associated Press:

FACT CHECK: Obama’s health care claims adrift?

By Calvin Woodward And Jim Kuhnhenn, Associated Press Writers Thu Jul 23

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s assertion Wednesday that government will stay out of health care decisions in an overhauled system is hard to square with the proposals coming out of Congress and with his own rhetoric.

Even now, nearly half the costs of health care in the U.S. are paid for by government at all levels. Federal authority would only grow under any proposal in play.

A look at some of Obama’s claims in his prime-time news conference:

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OBAMA: "We already have rough agreement" on some aspects of what a health care overhaul should involve, and one is: "It will keep government out of health care decisions, giving you the option to keep your insurance if you’re happy with it."

THE FACTS: In House legislation, a commission appointed by the government would determine what is and isn’t covered by insurance plans offered in a new purchasing pool, including a plan sponsored by the government. The bill also holds out the possibility that, over time, those standards could be imposed on all private insurance plans, not just the ones in the pool.

Indeed, Obama went on to lay out other principles of reform that plainly show the government making key decisions in health care. He said insurance companies would be barred from dropping coverage when someone gets too sick, limits would be set on out-of-pocket expenses, and preventive care such as checkups and mammograms would be covered.

It’s true that people would not be forced to give up a private plan and go with a public one. The question is whether all of those private plans would still be in place if the government entered the marketplace in a bigger way.

He addressed some of the nuances under questioning. "Can I guarantee that there are going to be no changes in the health care delivery system?" he said. "No. The whole point of this is to try to encourage changes that work for the American people and make them healthier."

He acknowledged then that the "government already is making some of these decisions."

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OBAMA: "I have also pledged that health insurance reform will not add to our deficit over the next decade, and I mean it."

THE FACTS: The president has said repeatedly that he wants "deficit-neutral" health care legislation, meaning that every dollar increase in cost is met with a dollar of new revenue or a dollar of savings. But some things are more neutral than others. White House Budget Director Peter Orszag told reporters this week that the promise does not apply to proposed spending of about $245 billion over the next decade to increase fees for doctors serving Medicare patients. Democrats and the Obama administration argue that the extra payment, designed to prevent a scheduled cut of about 21 percent in doctor fees, already was part of the administration’s policy, with or without a health care overhaul.

Beyond that, budget experts have warned about various accounting gimmicks that can mask true burdens on the deficit. The bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget lists a variety of them, including back-loading the heaviest costs at the end of the 10-year period and beyond.

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OBAMA: "You haven’t seen me out there blaming the Republicans."

THE FACTS: Obama did so in his opening statement, saying, "I’ve heard that one Republican strategist told his party that even though they may want to compromise, it’s better politics to ‘go for the kill.’ Another Republican senator said that defeating health reform is about ‘breaking’ me."

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OBAMA: "I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home, and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately."

THE FACTS: The facts are in dispute between black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. and the white police sergeant who arrested him at his Cambridge, Mass., home when officers went there to investigate a reported break-in. But this much is clear: Gates wasn’t arrested for being in his own home, as Obama implies, but for allegedly being belligerent when the sergeant demanded his identification. The president did mention that the professor was charged with disorderly conduct. Charges were dropped.

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OBAMA: "If we had done nothing, if you had the same old budget as opposed to the changes we made in our budget, you’d have a $9.3 trillion deficit over the next 10 years. Because of the changes we’ve made, it’s going to be $7.1 trillion."

THE FACTS: Obama’s numbers are based on figures compiled by his own budget office. But they rely on assumptions about economic growth that some economists find too optimistic. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, in its own analysis of the president’s budget numbers, concluded that the cumulative deficit over the next decade would be $9.1 trillion.

It’s pretty amazing when the Associated Press starts pointing out your duplicity.

And there’s more.

From ABC News:

‘Deliberate Deception’? Obama Slammed for Surtax

Former Treasury Secretary Calls Health Surtax a ‘Coverup’ for a Rate Increase

By ALICE GOMSTYN and NATHALIE TADENA

July 23, 2009—President Obama’s endorsement of a health care surtax for the richest Americans has renewed criticism of the proposal, including the man who once lorded over the nation’s increasingly complicated tax code.

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, a consultant to the financial firm Blackstone Group, called the surtax "deliberate deception." …

"I have been saying for years that the tax code is proof positive that we are not an intelligent people & There was a more than 10,000 page tax code when I was the secretary of the Treasury. So President Obama’s idea to add another surtax is just more of the same. From an individual point of view the thing that matters is, what is your total tax bill," O’Neill wrote in an e-mail to ABCNews.com.

"If a surtax for medical care is a good idea, why don’t we have a surtax for national defense? Agricultural subsidies? Housing subsidies? Medical research? Education? The White House operations including the chef? Pay for the members of Congress?" he said. "The surtax idea is a coverup for a rate increase. Perhaps it is true that the people who will pay the tax are too stupid to understand what is happening to them, otherwise how can you explain how a very intelligent president would advocate this deception?"

"I will not make a case against higher taxes but I am offended by deliberate deception," he said. "…[T]he current tax code is unenforceable because of its complexity. If a clean code caused my taxes to increase that would be fine with me."

In a primetime press conference last night, Obama voiced support for levying a surtax on families with incomes above $1 million a year…

Lest we forget, Mr. O’Neill is no friend of Mr. Bush or even the Republican Party.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Thursday, July 23rd, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

12 Responses to “Fact Check – BHO’s Healthcare Claims”

  1. tranquil.night

    Obama: Doctors Are Taking Tonsils Out For Money Instead Of Diagnosing It As Allergies

    The Facts: Didn’t I just watch a 15 year old episode of Seinfeld with this premise? I wonder if the Bamster and I have the same late-nite TV sched. Better not let that get out though, Bam is supposed to be watching In Living Color.

    • proreason

      tn, amazing catch!.

      If you are are correct about a Seinfeld episode that has the premise of a doctor taking out tonsils instead of diagnosing allergies (the 2 elements of the Moron’s example), it seems to me that it is a very significant thing.

      The coincidence, if true, is too great to ignore.

      And what does it say if the POTUS is basing his comments in a news conference on a 15-year old Seinfeld episode, other than that his 27 year-old TOTUS script-writer is a Seinfeld fan?

    • tranquil.night

      Seinfeld 113 “The Heart Attack” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Heart_Attack

      The premise isn’t about allergies at all, but it is about doctor’s taking out tonsils for money.

      “George thinks he is having a heart attack but actually needs a tonsillectomy, leading Kramer to recommend a holistic healer as a better (i.e., less expensive) alternative. Jerry warns George that the healer Kramer is recommending had spent time in prison. (“The medical establishment, see, they tried to frame him,” explains Kramer. “It’s all politics.”) After comparing the cost of an expensive operation in the hospital ($4000–$5000), and the holistic treatment he would receive (Kramer says “First visit: 38 bucks”), George decides to go with Kramer’s advice.”

      The show tries to temper its commentary on the issue by presenting the ‘opposite side’ as a crazy, idiotic, medical-establishment hating hippie liberal. But his main point is that doctor’s are just in business to make money, thus they are out to sell whatever expensive operation they can. That point is never really refuted.

      There’s an odd subliminal joke running through the episode that isn’t particular to Seinfeld past it’s first couple of seasons:

      Throughout the show Jerry tries to decrypt a humorous note he wrote to himself in the middle of the night after watching a B-movie (starring Larry David [i.e. the notorious Liberal writer behind the show]), presumably that he was going to use in one of his stand-up segments later. At the end of the show Jerry sees the Larry David movie again. He remembers that what he wrote down was what he heard in the movie, and he says, “That’s not funny.”

      David’s rant from this scene from a fictional movie made just for the show: “It’s just as you prophesied. The planets of our solar system, incinerating. Like flaming globes, Sigmund. Like flaming globes. Ah ha ha ha..”

      It isn’t funny, but it isn’t supposed to be a joke, which purposefully leaves the audience feeling awkward and confused about why it was even in the show (in fact it begins and ends the show). But take it in context of the episode’s subject then what’s really ‘not funny’ is the medical system. The flaming globes of Sigmund may reflect Mr. David’s opinion that the people are doomed without ‘universal’ healthcare.

    • proreason

      Well, without the allergy part, it isn’t quite a smoking gun of adolescent TOTUS’ism.

      But I would still bet that the reason tonsils were mentioned is because the boy speechwriter got the idea from that episode.

  2. BannedbytheTaliban

    Can anybody find a transcipt of the speech and questions/answers? I’m trying to recall some of it, I could only watch it in brief spurts to avoid killing the tv. I’m not sure if I remember correctly or was just imagining what Obama really wanted to say, but I recall an answer where he said the recent bank profits were bad and that the government needs more control over their assets. As well as other lies such as the deficit isn’t his fault, he was left a $1.3 trillion deficit by the Bush administration, and that deficit spending has nothing to do with health care reform.

  3. xomorrison

    MSNBC did the same fact check this morning- my jaw dropped

    • Liberals Demise

      Did a tingle run up your leg watching BSNBC?
      I can only take 30 secs. before my BS detector pegs!

  4. Right of the People

    That picture makes me want to slap that arrogant look right off his face.

  5. neocon mom

    Wow. Seems like now the only thing universal about this universal health scare trojan horse bill is general disdain.
    That gives me some hope, but there were many other things to take issue with. They were still being deferential to that pack o’ lies delivered last night.


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