Obama won’t give up his lost health crusade

Barack Obama as Indiana Jones? Allow me to explain.

At the end of the trilogy starring Harrison Ford (let’s pretend moviegoers were never subjected to “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”), the swashbuckling archaeologist discovers the holy grail of holy grails: the actual cup of Christ.

But things go badly wrong and Jones soon finds himself suspended over a bottomless chasm, with one arm reaching desperately for the grail. The other is being held tenuously by his father, who wisely counsels him: “Let it go.”

If only the elder Jones could pay a visit to the White House.

Today is the big “bipartisan” health care meeting at which President Obama has agreed to hear Republicans’ ideas if they will just sign on to his latest health proposal, which is all of three days old and has yet to be scrutinized by the usual independent agents.

That’s the upshot of the meeting, anyway. Ever since Obama smoked a disorganized House Republican caucus at their televised debate in Baltimore last month, the administration has longed for a chance to repeat that very public schooling and regain the political high ground on health care.

Oh, the president claims to have included some conservative ideas in his plan. And it’s true that some of the lesser, unobjectionable ones are in there. For instance, the White House cites the “use of technology for real-time data review” as one GOP idea it’s adopted.

The alternative, one supposes, is to review data in real time without using technology.

Just kidding. But do data reviews, or tougher penalties for Medicare/Medicaid fraudsters, or “mechanisms to improve quality,” really qualify as meeting the GOP halfway?

Are these really compromises from Democrats? Ones that merit the support of Republicans — not to mention the majority of Americans who oppose Democrats’ various health proposals — for such sea changes as letting Washington bureaucrats control the prices of private health insurance plans, as Obama now wants to do?

The annals of price controls are, after all, littered with tales of success. Just ask Richard Nixon. Or Mikhail Gorbachev.

Like Indiana Jones’ outstretched arm, President Obama’s summit is a last attempt to grasp the oh-so-close liberal dream of a middle-class health entitlement. The public option is not listed in the plan, but its creation will be a fait accompli once private insurance plans are transformed into utilities whose every move requires Washington’s approval.

Competition will decrease once the feds can dictate what insurers have to cover and force their premiums into the narrow band between a government cap and unprofitability.

Americans might not trust insurance executives any more than they do politicians and bureaucrats, but the execs’ standing will fall even further once they have to answer for the decisions that politicians and bureaucrats make.

Liberals still carping that Obama abandoned the public option either understand this and are just posturing, or they’re blinded by ideology.

Even if the latest health overhaul goes down in flames — and there are legitimate questions about whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi can muster a majority for Obama’s proposal — health reform is not going to disappear for 15 years as it did after Bill Clinton’s reform failure. Should Republicans regain power, they can’t ignore this issue. GOP leaders appear to understand this.

A truly bipartisan approach would be to start from scratch and begin with the handful of smaller items that most people agree on, before moving on to more contentious measures.

It’s the left’s denial of this reality that has turned its “Last Crusade” into a “Temple of Doom.”

149 comments Add your comment

Hannity is Always Wrong

February 24th, 2010
9:39 pm

Bipartisanship? Who needs bipartisanship after eight years of the 51% President. The Republicans LOST. Their job is to help the President govern the country, not to obstruct every single thing he says. Republicans can ignore anything except tax cuts for the wealthy and gutting every federal regulatory agency they can get their greedy hands on. In fact, they do ignore anything except tax cuts for the wealthy and gutting every federal regulatory agency they can get their greedy hands on. Oh yeah – and flag waving – lots and lots of flag waving. Now that’s leadership.


February 24th, 2010
9:40 pm

Obama, just let it go! The people can’t even comprehend the amount of debt we are taking on, and we’ve got to stop the spending. I know it must be enjoyable to spend other people’s money, but just understand all this debt has to be paid sometime in the future. The government just needs to get out of the way and let free enterprise work, which of course liberals don’t believe will happen.


February 24th, 2010
10:12 pm

“Free enterprise” is blasphemy to Obama, Reid, Pelosi, and their ilk. The real objective here is *government control* and the resultant lock on power it will create. After all, who’s going to bite the hand that feeds them by voting against the people who are giving them more entitlements? (Especially in a climate where jobs are scarce, and jobs with good pay and benefits are scarcer still, for those who even want to work in the first place.)

This is the most anti-business, anti-freedom administration ever to assume power in the history of this country…bar none.


February 24th, 2010
10:29 pm

“Barack Obama as Indiana Jones?”

But Indiana Jones actually had experience.


February 24th, 2010
10:31 pm

Patients ‘routinely neglected’ at NHS hospital where hundreds died in squalor

Not a single official has been disciplined over the worst-ever NHS hospital scandal, it emerged last night.

Up to 1,200 people lost their lives needlessly because Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust put government targets and cost-cutting ahead of patient care.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1253438/Mid-Staffordshire-NHS-hospital-routinely-neglected-patients.html#ixzz0gW0vXvwf


February 24th, 2010
10:32 pm

More socialist government health care……

Stafford Hospital caused ‘unimaginable suffering’

Patients were routinely neglected or left “sobbing and humiliated” by staff at an NHS trust where at least 400 deaths have been linked to appalling care.



February 24th, 2010
10:32 pm

Pa. abortion doctor’s license suspended after raid

Federal agents raided a clinic where abortions are performed and found “deplorable and unsanitary” conditions, including blood on the floor and parts of aborted fetuses in jars, according to the state agency that shut it down and suspended the license of the doctor in charge.

In the order suspending Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s license, the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Board of Medicine said investigators found numerous health and safety risks at Gosnell’s abortion and pain-management clinic, including a preoperative and recovery area that consisted of several recliners grouped together.



February 24th, 2010
10:34 pm

Kyle, is it just me or do you also think that Obama is committing suicide for the democrat party?

The American People

February 24th, 2010
10:58 pm

Obama is awful! Down with Dems in 2K10!!


February 24th, 2010
11:33 pm

Kyle, I simply don’t understand how the portrayal of Democrats as hanging from a cliff squares with legislative reality. At this time, the House can simply pass the Senate bill into law. The door is wide open. (Whether the Dems can walk through is an open question)

The unpopularity of the bill seems to be a large concern for you. It appears, then, that you have an argument against representative government. When public support turned against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or polls showed that people would prefer the Bush tax cuts be devoted to deficit reduction, should the Congress have acquiesced? Public opinion is important, but I would deem this position radical.

And I’m not sure I’d grant the premise (reform = unpopular) as quite so axiomatic in the first place.

Audrey in Georgia

February 25th, 2010
12:24 am

Start over and start from scratch is what slow learners, quitters and republicans want.
Democrats stay in the game, stay the course and keep fighting to get health care reform done.

Joel Edge

February 25th, 2010
6:23 am

I was under the impression that the legal requirement for everyone to buy insurance would lower the costs. Why the price controls?


February 25th, 2010
6:38 am

Hannity is always wrong…there was an unfortunate death at Seaworld due to a killer whale. In your narrow world of Dems and Obama, perhaps you should propose a federal agency for Animal Trainers and Wild Species Held in Captivity. You could regulate which animals can be held captive and the training of the trainers. You could unionize both the animals and the trainers. All government is good, bigger government is better, complete government control is best.

Gerald West

February 25th, 2010
7:04 am

Kyle, your article demonstrates the muddled thinking that clouds every attempt to bring reason and order to the American health care mess. Much of the muddle is deliberately and expensively induced by the special interest lobbies and Fox-style media propagandists. Some of the muddle is political partisanship. Some of the muddle is just the natural reluctance of people to change the status quo. Your article, replete with metaphors and petty partisanship, contributes to rather than clarifies the muddle.

Consider the basics! The US is the only developed country that does not have universal health care. We are first in health care costs (16% GDP vs 9% in France, 7% in the UK, for example). We are dead last, way down with the developing countries, in results measured by life expectancy and child mortality. Studies and rankings of overall health care and comparisons among various population segments confirm our last-place ranking in results.

Consider why the US pays too much for too little results! The administrative costs of health care are 30-50% for private health insurers and their networks, 6% for Medicare and HMOs.

The obvious solution is to relieve private insurers of their role as burdensome middlemen between patients and health care providers, and relegate them to the health care duties for which they are qualified: offering supplementary insurance coverage to those who can afford it, and performing the clerical functions of eligibility confirmation and claims processing under competitively bid contracts to health care enablers like Medicare.

Most of the muddled thinking is due to the mistaken, deliberately fostered, notion that insurers provide health care in a competitive market. Health care insurers do not provide health care: doctors, nurses, medical technicians, clinics, and hospitals provide health care. Blue Cross and United Health Care couldn’t cure a hang nail between them. Health care insurers ration health care according to ability to pay, health history, procedure pre-approval, claims rejections, and lifetime limits. They limit choice of providers by setting up networks of preferred providers. There is no competitive market for health care rationing because it is a service that no one wishes to pay for; economists refer to the situation as “market failure”.

When everyone has health care coverage there is no need for rationing. The services of insurance companies can be moved from health care decision-making to health care clerical functions. Patients can then choose freely between competing health care providers in a free market.

Don’t blame President Obama for the muddle in health care: he has no legislative powers, and no human should be expected to reform the dysfunctional Congress. The President started the health care attempt with the right objectives: coverage for everyone and a public option as the timid first step toward removing the front-end obstructions (insurance providers) between Americans and health care providers. The House and Senate drafts of health care legislation are hopeless tomes of more than 1,000 pages each, which Congressmen and the President will never bother to read. The Republican “proposals” protect the interests of the culprits in the unsustainable health care mess.

There is a way to address health care without getting bound up in fractious partisanship and 1,000+ page laws. A mere 5 pages of legislation enabled the best health care system in the world, bar none; unfortunately, it’s in French!

Keep up the good fight!

February 25th, 2010
7:44 am

Really an inane piece of writing. “Competition will decrease once the feds can dictate what insurers have to cover and force their premiums into the narrow band between a government cap and unprofitability.” Competition in an industry that is exempt from antitrust laws? Go slow while insurance companies are raising rates 70% or more? Go slow while people are subjected to insurance company death panels or denied coverage? Go slow while Americans have no coverage? The Repugs have had months to have some input not to achieve their delay goals for their perceived political gains at the expense of the majority of Americans who want reform and the public option. Not even worth my time to address what i cannot believe is from your ignorance and therefore must be either stupidity or intent to deceive and misinform. Shame on you!


February 25th, 2010
8:08 am

Vote out the incumbents and start over


February 25th, 2010
8:11 am


Two points:

The Obama Administration appears to be hell-bent in giving up democrat majorities in Congress.

By allowing Congress to write this terribly flawed health care reform legislation and then having republicans successfully demonize any form of health care reform, moderate democrats will most likely face a beating this fall that will possible give back control of Congress to republicans.

So…..after finally conceding that republicans were winning the political debate on health care reform, how did the administration respond in relation to helping democats in Congress? By jumping on a couple of other “real winners” for moderate democrats in Congress – repeal of “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” and continuing to give republicans more political play in relation to court appearances and rights of terrorists.

If republicans can take back Congress this fall (or even come close)the Administration will have no one to blame other than itself, the Speaker and Majority Leader.

The other point – with republicans sensing “blood in the water” over the winning issue of denying health care reform, who in their right mind would expect them to give up this winning issue by actually working with democrats on this issue? Who are these idiots advising President Obama and why is he listening to them?

Don’t get me wrong – with the takeover of the republican party by the radical right wing fringe, they no longer offer a viable alternative for me. I also understand that both sides’ first priority is winning elections rather than helping our Grand Republic.

Even the inept Bush Administration had a smarter game plan when first elected. After being appointed by the Supreme Court and losing the popular vote, the Bush Administration picked a winning bipartisan issue (education) coming out of the gate. Say what you will about No Child Left Behind, the legislation gave President Bush an opportunity to at least begin with some sort of bipartisan reality – something the Obama Adminstration either cares little about or is inept in achieving.

Mr. Helper

February 25th, 2010
8:15 am

I think President Obama would start making better decisions if he would get back together with his former lover and drug-use partner Larry Sinclair.

Matt the Brave

February 25th, 2010
8:16 am

I’m so sick and tired of stupid democraps saying that the Republicans need to help the president. By that logic, why didn’t you help Bush II? Or for that matter, Bush I or Reagan? Oh, but that’s right, you have no logic. You just get led around by your leash by whatever the ghost of Ted Kennedy says and you believe it as your gospel because anyone who might be a Christian certainly would be so stupid that they wouldn’t believe in something that would lead our country into turmoil and hatred.

Horrible Horrace

February 25th, 2010
8:41 am

Help Barry? Help him what exactly? No one wants to be associated with failure.

cranky old man

February 25th, 2010
8:44 am

I understand the Republicans’ desire to leave everything to the free market, as it usually proves to be a more efficient system. But health care doesn’t quite fit the mold. Competition only works to reduce costs and create better products if companies have an incentive to grab every customer they possibly can. But that is not true in health care. The incentives are all screwed up.

Health insurers DO want as many HEALTHY customers as they can grab, but they do everything they legally (and sometimes illegally) can get away with to avoid insuring unhealthy customers. And, given that their primary mission is to turn a profit, you can’t really expect them to act differently. Part of the blame goes to consumers, who will typically avoid buying health insurance while they are healthy, and then complain bitterly when they become sick and it’s too late to buy into the system. But you can’t put all the blame on them either, because many of them cannot possibly afford the outrageously high premiums, especially when they are young and healthy and at the lower end of their earning potential. Many others had insurance through their employers, but lost it when they lost their jobs. Still others paid into the system for years while they were healthy, only to see their premiums jump to unaffordable levels when they became sick.

Presidential Material

February 25th, 2010
8:44 am

Grading Kyle: C+

It’s very popular to use movie references in essays now. The trick is to pick the right one. Otherwise, your piece goes all Police Academy 6, like this critique just just did. (D’oh!)

Obama’s insistance on escorting this dead horse into another round of hearings is more like “Weekend at Bernies”. (are those prescription sun glasses?)

‘muff said.

JF McNamara

February 25th, 2010
8:46 am

Matt the Brave,

Legislation got passed when both Bushes and Reagan were in office. The Democrats held the house during I believe all but two years of Bush 2. Am I missing how they didn’t help? They just didn’t give Carte Blanche to Republicans. Republicans shouldn’t give Carte Blanche either, but all Republicans shouldn’t be against everything since most have moderate constituencies. What they are doing is just playing Partisan games and its not productive.

This is probably good for the country. The Republicans hold a propaganda edge, and the President needs to address some of the pure dumb ideas that Republican hold. Negotiation on both sides might mean this is not a lost cause and American can win in the end.


February 25th, 2010
8:50 am

“heir job is to help the President govern the country, not to obstruct every single thing he says. ”

waaaah the wepublicans did this the wepublicans did that. The Democrats have had a year w/ enough votes to pass this and they didn’t. I know taking responsibility is hard for you Democrats….

Horrible Horrace

February 25th, 2010
8:55 am

Pelosi and crew appear not to have enough votes for passage. LOL.

Obobo just keeps wasting our time instead of governing the Country.

Barry should resign.


February 25th, 2010
9:00 am

I’m a conservative, and I disagree on how the previous health care plans have been devised in secret. I’m even more disappointed that the republican party has no real plan. As a small business owner, I need the government to provide the public option so that I don’t have to pay for it. It’s not my responsibility from what I can tell. We’re calling Obama a socialist out of one side of our mouth and fighting for Social Security and Medicare (which are socialist programs to me). I don’t trust any of these guys.

Citizen of the World

February 25th, 2010
9:13 am

I wish the AJC had some mechanism like the the online New York Times whereby blog readers could “recommend” a certain post. I’d recommend Gerald West @ 7:04. Everything he said was right on.


February 25th, 2010
9:14 am

Jmoss, why do you say the Republicans have no real plan? From what I see they have 70 bills they have been trying to introduce, only to be shut out of the process.

Kyle Wingfield

February 25th, 2010
9:16 am

Allen, it’s not as simple as the House simply passing the Senate bill. The House bill passed 220-215. Since then, one “yes” vote has died (Murtha), one has resigned (Wexler), and another (Abercrombie) reportedly will resign Sunday to run for governor of Hawaii. So they’re at 217-215. The only Republican to vote for the House bill, Joseph Cao, says he won’t vote for the Senate bill. So it’s 216-216.

So it all depends on people changing their votes. Right now, it appears the people most likely to switch are the 10-12 anti-abortion Democrats for whom Rep. Bart Stupak claims to speak. And he’s indicating they won’t support the Senate bill. So Pelosi has to find at least 10-12 “no” votes who like the Senate version better.

Could that happen? I suppose so. But it seems an awfully risky tack for Obama to take at this point, because if the House were to vote down the Senate bill or just fail to take it up, that would be a huge blow. Thus, my hanging above the abyss metaphor.

As for my being against representative government: Certainly not. But the government derives its legitimacy from the consent of the governed, and after a months-long debate with as much or more public input as there’s ever been, it’s clear there is no consent for the present course of action on health care.


February 25th, 2010
9:23 am

“Democrats stay in the game, stay the course and keep fighting to get health care reform done’

YES!!!!! Please stay the course democrats! Do the EXACT opposite of what America wants!

YES WE CAN….oh wait….hey where’s everyone going?

Tyler Durden

February 25th, 2010
9:24 am

Wow. Hard to even justify reading Kyle anymmore. Apart from the odd departure (which is refeshing but oh too seldom), you just regurgitate GOP talking points and deflect any attempt at real debate from posters. If we wanted another angle from the echo chamber, why not just stick with Wooten?

Once again: if you get your news from Fox or someone talking on the radio, it’s not facts: it’s hyperbole for entertainment. And if your heroes can’t survive an encounter with ANYONE outside of their political persuasion (AKA actually debate and defend their points in public), then are they really heroes?

As usual: the GOP will never let a fact get in the way of ideology…

Kyle Wingfield

February 25th, 2010
9:25 am

I’m sorry, Gerald West, but it’s not “obvious” to me that the solution for spending more on health care with lesser outcomes is to insulate patients further from the cost of health care.

And I’d like you to point to even one person — much less a constituency representing “most of the muddled thinking” — who thinks health insurance is the same thing as health care.

“When everyone has health coverage there is no need for rationing.” Huh? You just talked about the distinction between coverage and care…now you’re saying that adding coverage — i.e. increasing demand — on its own will result in endless supply?

There will always be rationing of any scarce resource; the question is, who does the rationing? Letting a public bureaucracy make the decisions doesn’t strike me as an improvement over letting a private one do the job. What we have to do is put people in the position to make their own choices about which health care they choose and at what price, so that they “ration” their health care the same way they ration their groceries, their housing, their clothing, etc.

That’s the debate no one in Washington seems to want to have. But I will give Republicans credit for being somewhat closer to the mark than Democrats have been so far.


February 25th, 2010
9:26 am

CNN=the DUMBEST group of so-called journalist in cable news.

CNN Poll: Health care provisions popular but overall bills unpopular



February 25th, 2010
9:26 am

“If we wanted another angle from the echo chamber, why not just stick with Wooten?”

Wooten is retiring.

Kyle Wingfield

February 25th, 2010
9:27 am

Yes, and it’s oh-so-original, Tyler, to brand opinions you don’t like as regurgitation from Fox News and right-wing talking points.


February 25th, 2010
9:29 am

What America will look like if democrats and unions get their way..

Greek Police, Protesters Clash in Nationwide Strike



February 25th, 2010
9:31 am

Tyler Durden

If you don’t like Kyle, you have Cynthia Tucker and Jay Bookman (both spew democrat talking points).

If you hate FOX NEWS so much then please tune in to ABC, PBS, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and NBC. All democrat talking points for you.


February 25th, 2010
9:34 am

we need to stay the course and implement a health care surge…..its done wonders in the middle east.


February 25th, 2010
9:38 am

Poor unions can’t catch a break! GREAT!!!!!

View of Unions ‘Plummeted’ Since 07


Horrible Horrace

February 25th, 2010
9:40 am

I hate unions.


February 25th, 2010
9:42 am

Horrible Horrace

So do I and the majority of America does as well.


February 25th, 2010
9:44 am

I was watching Morning Joe earlier and Bernie “the socialist” Sanders was on talking about how the GOP is obstructing what America wants…….all while Joe had a poll OVERWHELMINGLY showing the public’s disdain for government health care. Anyway, Joe interrupted him and said that the democrat party has total control. Bernie Sanders brushed it aside and continued to blame the GOP.

Bottom line: Democrats, like Rahm Emanuel said, are RETARDED!


February 25th, 2010
9:51 am

…letting Washington bureaucrats control the prices of private health insurance plans, as Obama now wants to do…Competition will decrease once the feds can dictate what insurers have to cover and force their premiums into the narrow band between a government cap and unprofitability.

For the record, there are no price controls or government caps in the Senate bill, the House bill, or Obama’s proposal.

Kyle Wingfield

February 25th, 2010
9:55 am

For the record, CJ, the president proposes to let a federal agency review insurance premium increases with the ability to reject them if it wishes. Call it what you want, but that’s a de facto price control.

M Lassiter

February 25th, 2010
10:02 am

Scott Brown comes from a state with a system of public health that works

Look to Massachsettes and please stop with the petty and juvenile personal attacks on President Obama

He can only lead the country part of the way. The elected leaders must do their jobs. The American people must stop being HUGE consumers of everything and get smarter.

The people who only cheer when he fails are rooting for the country to fail


February 25th, 2010
10:07 am

“Scott Brown comes from a state with a system of public health that works”

Yep, and that state is on the verge of bankruptcy.

“Look to Massachsettes and please stop with the petty and juvenile personal attacks on President Obama”

What personal attacks?

“He can only lead the country part of the way.”

He hasn’t led the country anywhere.

“The American people must stop being HUGE consumers of everything and get smarter.”

Sure thing there Castro!

“The people who only cheer when he fails are rooting for the country to fail”

Guess you missed the last 8 years, huh?

Kyle Wingfield

February 25th, 2010
10:12 am

M Lassiter: As long as your definition of “works” includes costing far more money than expected, then I suppose you’re right.

For all the talk about how the Republicans have distorted what the Democrats want to do, the biggest lie of all in this debate has been that the right wants the status quo on health care. That’s not reflected in the opinion polls, in the writings of conservative thinkers, or even in the statement of most (maybe not all) elected Republicans. What we don’t want is the specific plan that Democrats have offered.

If that’s what you call rooting for the president or the country to fail, then I guess Americans have been rooting for failure off and on for more than two centuries.


February 25th, 2010
10:12 am

I am really getting sick of this, lack of healthcare debate. The dimacrats have a super majority and they can’t pass it? Cut your losses and do what you should do and foster the creation of jobs. Guess what most people with jobs have healthcare, so it becomes a non issue. Why not adopt a new way of thinking, do NOT spend any money that we don’t have, spend less and pay off our debt. That will make the US dollar strong and us with it….Sounds pretty simple, how come these Harvard and Princeton grads can’t even balance a check book… losers…


February 25th, 2010
10:22 am

Hey — why bother with health care reform?

The market is working just fine. Health insurance companies are enjoying nice profits, paying their executives millions each year, and are still raising rates. So what if more americans lose health care coverage? The health insurers will simply raise their rates on the rest of us to keep their profit levels steady. Kyle certainly won’t object — because its corporate profits (and dividends to stockholders) that matter, not whether ordinary americans can afford it.

Now Kyle will say that health care profit margins are slim (5-7%) of course what he will never admit is that part of their cost of doing business is intensive lobbying to protect their ability to deny health insurance to americans who need it and only insure the healthy. Now that’s a free market solution the GOP loves.

No wonder the GOP doesn’t want to do anything about health care.


February 25th, 2010
10:33 am


First of all, price controls and “defacto” price controls are two different things. Price controls are a fact. “Defacto” price controls are an opinion. You’re an editorial writer, so it’s appropriate to give your opinion. But you presented your opinion as fact, and that is always inappropriate–even in an editorial piece.

Every state currently has the authority to review premium increases with the ability to reject them if they wish. But for some not-so-mysterious reason state insurance commissioners aren’t doing their jobs (they take gifts and contributions from the companies they regulate). Premiums in states all over the country are rising in excess of 30 percent while insurers are making record profits far in excess of the kind of profits that are typically seen in mature industries. In short, they’re gouging us. So Obama proposes the following:

Improving insurance protections for consumers and creating a new Health Insurance Rate Authority to provide Federal assistance and oversight to States in conducting reviews of unreasonable rate increases and other unfair practices of insurance plans.