After all the rhetoric is put aside, one principle ran through President Obama’s speech tonight: that increased government involvement in health care can solve its problems.
Many Americans fundamentally disagree with this idea. We know from long experience that the creation of a massive new bureaucracy will not provide us with “more stability and security,” but just the opposite. It's hard to believe the President when he says that this time he and his team of bureaucrats have finally figured out how to do things right if only we’ll take them at their word.
Our objections to the Democrats’ health care proposals are not mere “bickering” or “games.” They are not an attempt to “score short term political points.” And it’s hard to listen to the President lecture us not to use “scare tactics” when in the next breath he says that “more will die” if his proposals do not pass.
In his speech the President directly responded to concerns I’ve raised about unelected bureaucrats being given power to make decisions affecting life or death health care matters. He called these concerns “bogus,” “irresponsible,” and “a lie” -- so much for civility. After all the name-calling, though, what he did not do is respond to the arguments we’ve made, arguments even some of his own supporters have agreed have merit.
In fact, after promising to “make sure that no government bureaucrat .... gets between you and the health care you need,” the President repeated his call for an Independent Medicare Advisory Council -- an unelected, largely unaccountable group of bureaucrats charged with containing Medicare costs. He did not disavow his own statement that such a group, working outside of “normal political channels,” should guide decisions regarding that “huge driver of cost ... the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives....” He did not disavow the statements of his health care advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, and continuing to pay his salary with taxpayer dollars proves a commitment to his beliefs. The President can keep making unsupported assertions, but until he directly responds to the arguments I’ve made, I’m going to call him out too.
It was heartening to hear the President finally recognize that tort reform is an important part of any solution. But this concession shouldn’t lead us to take our eye off the ball: the Democrats’ proposals will not reduce costs, and they will not deliver better health care. It’s this kind of “healthy skepticism of government” that truly reflects a “concern and regard for the plight of others.” We can’t wait to hear the details on that; we look forward to working with you on tort reform.
Finally, President Obama delivered an offhand applause line tonight about the cost of the War on Terror. As we approach the anniversary of the September 11th attacks and honor those who died that day and those who have died since in the War on Terror, in order to secure our freedoms, we need to remember their sacrifices and not demonize them as having had too high a price tag.
Remember, Mr. President, elected officials work for the people. Forcing a conclusion in order to claim a “victory” is not healthy for our country. We hear you say government isn’t always the answer; now hear us -- that’s what we’ve been saying all along.
- Sarah Palin