‘You lie!’

Rep. Joe Wilson gave voice to the thoughts of a big chunk of Middle America when he shouted, “You lie!” during President Obama’s health care speech last night. Not surprisingly, DC pundits are focusing on Wilson’s outburst rather than the patently ridiculous claims made by the president during his 45-minute campaign speech.

For example, anyone with common sense knows that putting the government in charge of something as cumbersome as cradle-to-grave health care can not possibly make the system more efficient. The government is bankrupting us now with Medicare — President Obama says so! — but don’t worry, they’ll get it right this time.

So… government is bankrupting us, so we need to spend lots more money to save money.

Right.

Even more laughable is that we can pay for most of this reform with all the money we’ll save by cutting out waste and fraud in the current system.

Uh huh. There’s waste, sure, but not nearly enough to fund the president’s plan. Besides, the government has yet to show that it actually wants to root out that waste, even though — in the president’s words — Medicare is on the verge of bankrupting the country.

That aside, I have to assume that bureaucrats will instantly become efficient and honest and scrupulously resist the temptation of dipping into a multi-trillion-dollar revenue stream once President Obama waves his magic pen over the final version of the bill.

Right.

Other thoughts as I watched the speech last night:

  • If rugged individualism made this country great, why should we submit to a one-size-fits-all government health plan?
  • Our actions can have consequences for others, sure, but watch out when the government starts making rules based on how your life choices affect insurance costs for everyone else.  You know, that cheeseburger could lead to a triple bypass someday, and those aren’t cheap, dammit!
  • How far will the government go to regulate self-destructive behavior for the common good? (Not far enough to make fornication a crime, I bet. STDs are more socially acceptable these days than cellulite.)
  • Yes, most states require auto insurance–but only if you choose to drive.  I don’t have to pay a penalty if I choose to walk, bicycle, or ride the bus instead of driving to work.
  • So the president won’t sign a bill that will add one dime to the deficit, now or in the future. Mark the date: 9/9/09 was Barack Obama’s “Read my lips: no new taxes” moment. There’s no way he signs a bill that’s budget neutral and we all know it.
  • Lawmakers obviously think we’re idiots.  Insurance companies, Big Pharma, and employers will absorb the cost of all of this without raising prices?  Right!  If, for example, my employer pays out another one or two percent of gross under this “reform” for employee health coverage, do you think for a minute we’d just write that off?  Either our salaries would be frozen or we’d bump prices to cover it.  Same with any other company, which means that you and me ultimately get stuck with the check for this plan anyway by paying more for cars, appliances, office supplies, groceries…
  • President Obama’s backhanded jibes at Sarah Palin and George W. Bush were just as boorish, in my view, as Joe Wilson’s outburst. The charge of “death panels” would be laughable, Mr. President, if they weren’t in the freakin’ bill!
  • Once again he presents us with the false choice: either pass his plan now or do nothing and the house of cards collapses.  Why is it his way or no way?
  • The president delivered his speech well, probably well enough to get something through Congress. But as with nearly everything I’ve heard him say publicly, it’s all about the “how” and not the “what”: he sounds great, he looks great, but what the Sam Hill did he actually say?

Finally, Rep. Wilson reminded Sharon and me of the great theater that is Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament. The U.S. would be well served if its chief executive was subjected to a healthy round of abuse from the opposition once a week, just to remind us — and him — that he (allegedly) serves us, and not the other way around.

Won’t happen, because the money men who put in big money on the presidency every four years want the man they’ve bought and paid for treating with the greatest deference. But one can dream.

Meanwhile, if President Obama wants to avoid a repeat of the Wilson Affair, he should refrain from saying things in front of a live audience that we all know to be untrue.

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