Obama’s “Hail Mary”: Good talk, little action

President Obama made his long-awaited, much-vaunted “make or break speech” on the health-care plan last night. He proved one thing: As a national leader, he’s a great orator.

Nice suit, too, Mr. Prez.

In his speech the president tried to work his “ole black magic” (oops! I can hear the screams of “Racist!” taking wing now) on us as he did during last year’s presidential election. The Democrats cheered as if they were the rooting section at an Indiana high school basketball game, and Obama was the star player. The Republicans glowered and sulked as if their team had just lost the game on a very disputed play. Rep. Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, yelled “You lie!” when Obama said the plan wouldn’t require coverage of illegal aliens, and he was booed down as if he were the referee who had just made a call against the home team.

I doubt that Obama managed to change many minds with his oration, which went on for 44 minutes (can you say, “Bill Clinton, 1988 Democratic convention”?) Too long, Mr. President. We know you were a college professor, but you don’t have to fill 55 minutes of every hour with sound to earn your salary.

Obama did point out some things that were undisputed facts, and that most any American could agree with who has bought, or tried to buy, a private insurance plan. Insurance companies can refuse to sell you one if you have a pre-existing condition they don’t want to cover; and that’s wrong. They can drop you for filing “too many” claims, and if you’re keeping your premiums paid, that’s wrong. State laws prohibit buying insurance across state lines, and that’s wrong. These are problems that have been allowed to fester for too long, and something needs to be done about them. No argument from me on that.

But to say, as Obama did, that the bill being crafted to reform health care would prohibit such things as refusal to ensure, and dropping of customers by insurance companies without just cause, and to imply that this would not cause insurance premiums to rise even higher than they already are, is very disingenuous. The insurance industry has a lot of clout in Congress, and anyone who thinks the industry will just fold up and eat the higher costs that would result from any such legislation, hasn’t tried to buy insurance lately.

A federal law to prohibit states from limiting the number of insurance companies which can conduct business within their borders would be a good thing. Federal statutes have trumped all state statutes before, in extreme situations. So on this issue, too, I agree with Obama.

On the other hand, Obama’s statement that most of the new health care plan could be funded by eliminating “waste, fraud and abuse” in Medicare and Medicaid, is plainly and simply a pipe dream. The waste, fraud and abuse occurred in agencies founded and operated by the federal government. Does anyone really think that this same government will now turn around and become super efficient at rooting them out? Bottom line: His proposal probably set off alarm bells in the minds of millions of senior citizens: Cuts in Medicare — affecting US!

His claim that all this can be done without adding a dime to the deficit is also a crock. Washington can’t get a floor swept these days without adding to the deficit. Write it down: If you thought the deficit had soared to the heavens with passage of the stimulus package, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

Maybe Obama will prove me wrong. Maybe the Democrats who control both houses of Congress will manage to keep the liberals by retaining some type of federal “alternative” plan, as Obama hinted. Maybe they will also manage to convince the Blue Dogs that it isn’t really government-run health care, and keep most of them on board. Maybe they’ll even manage to peel off a few Republicans, like Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. Maybe we’ll have the health-care bill by the middle of October, which is Obama’s new “deadline date” for it.

Maybe. And maybe it’ll rain silver dollars and we’ll all get rich.

——

Congressman Joe Wilson already has apologized to the president for his “You lie!” outburst. He probably should have. But now the Democratic leadership is trying to get him to apologize to the whole House for violating its rules of conduct and “decorum.” Wilson has refused. He’s right. He made his apologies to our leader, who was the recipient of the insult. That’s enough. Move on, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid. This country has much more important fish to fry than the bad manners of a single House member.

Besides, if you think one yelled remark during a presidential speech is disgraceful, then go to YouTube and search for “Fights in parliament,” or words to that effect. You’ll see videos of brawls that have taken place in recent years in national parliaments from East Asia to Africa to South America. I think they call it, “democracy in action.”

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