Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fact Check: Obama's Press Conference July 22, 2009

Well, the reviews are in, and they aren't very good. It's tough to call an Obama Presser a success when even Chris Matthews and Ed Schultz have nothing good to say. Matthews chalked Obama's inability to make the case for completely overhauling the health care industry to the lateness of the hour. Hello, it was 8 PM, not much of an excuse.

Perhaps if Matthews was a bit more thorough in his analysis of the unimpressive presser, he would note the numerous ways the President's rhetoric failed to match with the proposals currently coming out of the House and Senate. The AP does a pretty thorough review and found a number of the President's statements in opposition to the facts. One of the most glaring disconnects came when the President claimed:
"You haven't seen me out there blaming the Republicans."
Perhaps he was unaware that he blamed Republicans in his own opening statement:
I've heard that one Republican strategist told his party that, even they may want to compromise, it's better politics to "go for the kill," another Republican senator that defeating health reform is about "breaking" me.

Clearly this was a reference to Senator DeMint's Waterloo statement that has taken center stage in Obama's efforts to find a face to tie with the problems plaguing health care. Senator DeMint has issued a statement, in response to a DNC proposed attack ads scheduled to run in SC and national television. The ad alleges that Senator DeMint has offered "no plan at all" a claim which Senator DeMint describes as "patently false." The statement includes numerous links to the Senator's most recent health care proposals as well as a list of previous legislation he proposed including a few voted against by then Senator Obama.

In The GOP Live Response many claims made by the President were refuted with links to outside sources were supplied to back up the GOP assertions. The President repeated his claim that the government will not get between patient and doctor. Live Response posted this response:
House Dems' Bill Creates New Czar That Will Push Government-Run Health Insurance. "The health choices commissioner would head an independent agency, as envisioned in the 800-page draft bill released by House Democratic leaders. The Health Choices Administration would regulate a revamped insurance marketplace and be expected to deliver Obama's promise of affordable coverage for all ... The commissioner and the new agency would run a kind of national purchasing pool through which individuals and small businesses could pick medical coverage from private plans and a government-sponsored alternative." (Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, "Need For Federal Insurance Czar Is Questioned," The Associated Press, 7/7/09)

Jake Tapper of ABC asked whether the American people would be required to make additional sacrifices aside from the proposed surtax on the wealthiest taxpayers. The President denied there would be sacrifices which completely belies the proposals contained in the House bill HR 3200. In fact the President claimed:
They're going to have to give up paying for things that don't make them healthier. And I -- speaking as an American, I think that's the kind of change you want.

GOP Live Response also noted there were taxes under consideration:
House Democrats Have “Lots Of Potential Targets For Higher Taxes” Apart From Deduction Limiting. “House Democrats have lots of potential targets for higher taxes as they aim to expand health care coverage to reach the roughly 50 million that experts say are uninsured. Also under consideration are higher alcohol taxes, increases to the Medicare payroll tax and a value-added tax, a sort of national sales tax, of up to 1.5 percent or more ... The [other] tax options include: increasing the price of soda and other sugary drinks by 10 cents a can, applying a potential 2 percent income tax increase to single taxpayers earning more than $200,000 a year and households earning more than $250,000, a new employer payroll tax could target 3 percent of employers' health care expenditures, taxing employer-provided health insurance benefits above certain levels ... House Democrats planned to unveil a draft of their sweeping health care bill Friday ... The draft, being released at a news conference ... was not expected to mention the potentially unpopular tax options.” (Erica Werner, "House Eyes New Taxes As Senators Pare Health Bill," The Associated Press, 6/19/09)

As the Senate Finance Committee has not finalized any of their planning, potential sources for funding the new entitlement are in flux. Clearly this was a problem for the President as he took center stage in prime time television to sell health care reform that was missing a few key ingredients, those being a finished plan and a means to pay for it.

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