"No one has talked about reconciliation," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared during last week’s health care summit. It was a lie shocking in its boldness.
Live on national television, the Democrats’ leader in the U.S. Senate told the nation that not a single person had discussed even the possibility of using the Senate’s budget reconciliation rules, which require a simple majority vote instead of 60, as needed under regular Senate rules, to pass President Obama’s health care reform plan. Yet, a week before, Reid himself had said publicly that reconciliation was an option for passing the plan, Politico.com reported. Of the Senate’s 59 Democrats, 23 had already signed a letter urging the president to pass the plan via reconciliation by the time Reid said "no one" was even talking about it. And of course, a week later, President Obama, as expected, urged Democrats to pass the bill through the reconciliation process if necessary.
In other words, the Democratic Party leadership in Washington hadn’t just talked about reconciliation. It was central to their strategy.
Reid’s blatant revisionism perfectly encapsulates the Democratic leadership’s plan for passing legislation to completely remake health care in the United States. Simply put, the plan is this: Lie. Thus, President Obama and the leadership in Congress have lied about nearly everything, from start to finish. Obama said that if you have health insurance you like, you’ll absolutely get to keep it under his plan. That was a lie. As he eventually acknowledged, millions of Americans will lose their existing coverage if the changes he wants become law.
Similarly, Obama spent all last summer saying health care reform wouldn’t raise taxes on anyone but the rich. But on August 2 the Associated Press reported that the administration admitted that taxes might have to be raised on the middle class to pay for the health care bill.
Obama has said repeatedly that insured families pay about $1,000 a year to cover the costs of the uninsured. Factcheck.org puts the figure at $200.
Obama said our current health care system causes a bankruptcy every 30 seconds. That’s not remotely true. If every bankruptcy in the United States in which health care costs played any factor at all were counted as a bankruptcy caused by health care, the figure would be one per minute, not double that.
In the summer, Obama was claiming that health care reform was paid for. At the time, the Congressional Budget Office concluded that the House bill added $239 billion to the federal deficit over a decade and the Senate bill $597 billion. The president’s claims still aren’t true because of tricks such as removing the "doc fix" provisions and putting them into a separate bill.
Obama claimed health care reform would save the average American family $2,500 a year. Factcheck.org could find no evidence for that at all. Obama apparently just made it up.
Obama promised at least eight times that the health care negotiations would be televised live on C-SPAN. They weren’t. They were done, as everything in Washington is done, behind closed doors.
There us no shortage of additional examples. When it comes to health care, on point after point after point, the American people have been lied to – systematically, methodically and deliberately.
It should go without saying that opponents of the Democrats’ plans haven't always been truthful, either. Some attacks have contained intentional falsehoods, others inadvertent ones. I don’t defend any of those. But they don’t make any less outrageous the fact that our own government has systematically misled us in an attempt to generate support for a plan the president and leaders in Congress knew we would never accept if we knew the whole truth about it.
Sure, politicians have always lied. But this administration, with its campaign theme of hopeful “change,” was supposed to be the most open and transparent administration in history. Even Congress was supposed to be different. Nancy Pelosi promised the most ethical Congress in history. Instead, the White House and its Congressional allies have joined forces to launch an almost daily barrage of falsehoods designed to trick us into supporting a dramatic transformation of one sixth of the American economy. And here’s the worst part about the politics of the healthcare debacle: We have at least three more years of this to look forward to.
Andrew Cline is editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader.