Thursday, September 17, 2009

Was the President Lying?

Taylor Conant emails:

This Arnold Kling post is good and in line with the post you made recently saying that Obama shouldn't even be listened to anymore because he is talking about nothing generalities:

Of the following statements made by President Obama in his speech on health reform last week, which is not true? Answer below the fold.

a) "if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. "

b) "the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally. "

c) Now, this is the plan I'm proposing. It's a plan that incorporates ideas from many of the people in this room tonight -- Democrats and Republicans.

d) Reducing the waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid will pay for most of this plan.

Strictly speaking, I would suggest that none of these statements was true. In addition, the following statements also were misleading:

e) "if you're one of the tens of millions of Americans who don't currently have health insurance, the second part of this plan will finally offer you quality, affordable choices. "

f) "Under this plan, it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a preexisting condition."

g) "under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance"

h) "It [the public option] is only part of my plan"

i) "we've estimated that most of this plan can be paid for by finding savings within the existing health care system"

j) "the plan I'm proposing will cost around $900 billion over 10 years"

k) "The only thing this plan would eliminate is the hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud, as well as unwarranted subsidies in Medicare that go to insurance companies"

What is misleading about statements (a) - (k) is that each of them referred to a plan that, strictly speaking, does not exist. As far as I know, the Obama Administration never submitted a plan to Congress.

One can argue that this is beside the point. He did not need to offer a plan because

i) he is endorsing a bill already in Congress. (but if so, which bill?)

ii) he is speaking in broad outlines, leaving Congress to fill in the details (but if so, how does he know that it is feasible {a} to cut enough spending to pay for the plan without eliminating anything other than waste and abuse and {b} to mandate health insurance without forcing anyone to change what they currently have)?
The entire Kling post is here.

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