Obama gets America’s attention

President Obama has managed the unimaginable. He got tens of thousands of ordinary American citizens to leave the comfort of their homes, spend travel money they’ve been trying to watch very carefully and show up in Washington for a protest of a kind they hadn’t even dreamed of in years past. How did he accomplish this feat?

It certainly wasn’t easy. It required his early signature on a runaway, pork-loaded budget bill, and then passage of a mostly pointless, politically informed $800 billion stimulus package on top of bailout funds put in place before his election. Then came the purchase of General Motors, the takeover of banks, the prospect of long-term, nation-shriveling deficits, calls for an economically devastating though ineffectual cap-and-trade tax and, far from the least of these things, the health-care bamboozlement plot.

Given the Democratic whines about how opponents have misrepresented their grand health plans, you could easily forget the strenuous effort early on to make sure no one knew very much about what those plans contained. We had a House bill of more than 1,000 pages no single member of Congress had probably read and presidential urging that this thing or something a lot like it get passed by both chambers pronto, before Congress’s summer vacation, with no opportunity for study or extensive debate.

Along with no information came misinformation, such as:

  • Four-fold exaggerations of the number of citizens with no access to insurance.
  • The erroneous implication that no health insurance was equivalent to no care.
  • The lobbyist-propagated argument that unjustified malpractice suits had negligible bearing on physician and hospital fees.
  • The tale that insurance company profits were huge.
  • Denials that rationing was part of the calculation.
  • The whitewashing of the faults of statist systems in England and Canada.
  • Contentions the Republicans had no alternative reforms to offer.
  • And, perhaps the biggest joke of them all, the idea that vastly expanding government giveaways would hold down government costs instead of increasing them ruinously.

Great gobs of people began catching onto this despite instruction from certain elements of the intelligentsia that the time has come to heed anecdotes about horrors in the present system. The stories can be found, but thinking Obama’s plan would even try to handle some of them — or that it possibly could without sink-the-ship costs — is absurd.

These same instructors would have us know how popular Medicare is while failing to mention that it is headed for a crash because it s future recipients are owed tens of trillions of dollars more than the government will be receiving in revenues, that there’s no way we tax or borrow our way out of this mess, and that still another government-operated plan would only make things worse.

From what I read about it, the peaceful, flag-waving, song-singing crowd in D.C. was a lot smarter than these instructors are, deep enough to consider long term, liberty-depriving consequences and alert enough to catch onto the charade that a highly subsidized, closely regulated, non-profit, national co-op plan would be a public-option, government-run plan by another name.

But wait. Are they and the majority of Americans whose views concur with theirs going to be scared by the new Obama tactic, telling us that the death awaits many of us if he doesn’t get the plan he wants? My guess is that they know we need change but know, too, that prudent, step-by-step, deliberated change will serve them better than a massive overhaul and a system of airtight controls, at least one of which (the requirement we all buy health insurance) is unconstitutional.

Something has brought large numbers of Americans out of placidity into deep concern, namely an administration that decided it was going to turn the nation upside down overnight. That tends to get your attention.

(Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. He can be reached at SpeaktoJay(at)aol.com.)