That big whoosh you hear is the air rushing out of President Obama’s PR blitzkrieg to hurry Congress into approving his nationalized health care reform proposal before leaving town next week for the annual August recess. Nearly two weeks’ worth of carefully orchestrated speeches and events was capped by a White House news conference Wednesday evening in which Obama said “the American people cannot afford to wait for reform any longer.” Thursday morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – one of the president’s staunchest supporters on Capitol Hill – put the kibosh to the push, declaring that no vote will be held in the Senate until September. Even as Obama was yet campaigning in Cleveland, Reid wisely noted that “it’s better to have a product É based on quality and thoughtfulness rather than to go jamming something through.”
These developments are not the end of the Obama magic, but they might very well mark the beginning of the end. This is because Congress, which has seemed as July has progressed to be recovering a sense of balance on this issue, now goes home for a month to face constituents. It promises to be a long, hot August because a majority of those constituents, according to Mr. Gallup, now oppose Obama’s health care reform approach. As they read the actual text on the Internet and grow more knowledgeable about the Obama proposal, their questions for senators and representatives will likely grow more pointed and voluminous. As House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-OH, said yesterday, there are Obama’s many soaring claims about what his proposal will do, and then there are the facts. It appears that growing numbers of Americans are concluding the two just don’t match.
Obama has demanded, for example, cost-cutting sacrifices from doctors, patients, hospitals, and drug makers, but he’s asked nothing from his trial lawyer buddies, his largest single donor group. Their avaricious litigation drives up health care costs for everybody, but Obama refuses to drop his long-standing opposition to putting reasonable limits on their courtroom antics. As the Pacific Research Institute’s Sally C. Pipes notes elsewhere in today’s Washington Examiner, fear of such suits forces doctors to practice defensive medicine – ordering every possible test and prescribing multiple treatments “just in case.” This adds more than 10 percent, or an estimated $214 billion annually, to medical costs, and encourages the growing doctor shortage as well. When Texas capped medical malpractice claims in 2003, however, thousands of doctors flooded into the state, their malpractice insurance premiums dropped more than 21 percent, with a result that spiraling health care costs for Texans began declining. Obama would help his cause immensely by acknowledging and addressing such facts.