Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Barack Obama versus Matt Drudge versus Google

Yesterday, Matt Drudge linked a video from 2003, featuring Barack Obama. The link was headlined, "Obama in '03 (Uncut): I’d Like to See a ‘Single Payer Health Care Plan'".

The video is labeled, "SEIU Health Care Forum 3/24/07," and shows Obama saying, "I don’t think we’re going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately. There’s going to be, potentially, some transition process: I can envision a decade out, or 15 years out, or 20 years out."

The Obama administration's response was swift. Linda Douglass, one of more than a dozen mainstream media journalists hired by the Obama administration, claims that Drudge was "taking sentences and phrases out of context, and they're cobbling them together to leave a very false impression."

In an email to the Wall Street Journal, Douglass wrote, "There is a lot of misinformation about health insurance reform circulating on the internet and elsewhere. Some of it is intentionally misleading... We want to be sure people have the facts about health insurance reform that will lower costs, protect consumers from insurance regulations that deny them coverage and assure quality and affordable health care for all Americans. We are not compiling lists or sources of information. We may post fact checks from time to time to be sure Americans know the truth about health insurance reform.”


Consider the following items, found in a matter of minutes using the amazing new "Google" search tool:

• In June 2008, the U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution in support of single-payer health care; in addition, thirty-five state AFL-CIO organizations support single-payer health care. Does anyone really believe that if the AFL-CIO supports single-payer, Barack Obama would be opposed?

• In December 2006, The New York Times reported that in "two speeches and a news conference, Mr. Obama called for universal health care — the issue with which Mrs. Clinton, the New York Democrat, was once closely identified."

• Obama said, "I think that there is no reason why in a country that is spending as much on health care as we are that we can't provide basic coverage to everybody, and I don't think we should shy away from that. I think we should present an agenda for universal health care."

• "Universal health care" is synonymous with a single-payer system or any other form of mandatory, government-controlled health insurance. For example, The Case for Universal Health Care in the United States reports that "28 industrialized nations have single payer universal health care".

• Obama's been attacking insurers and pushing for single-payer for years. In 2007, The Boston Globe reported on Obama's lobbying connections while serving as a state senator:

When Barack Obama and fellow state lawmakers in Illinois tried to expand healthcare coverage in 2003 with the "Health Care Justice Act," they drew fierce opposition from the insurance industry, which saw it as a back-handed attempt to impose a government-run system... During debate over the [act], Obama also attacked the insurers, accusing the industry of "fear-mongering" by claiming, even after he made changes they wanted, that the bill would lead to a government takeover...

• In December of 2007, Politico ("Liberal views could haunt Obama") observed that, "Obama said he would support a single-payer health plan for Illinois... although such a program will probably have to be instituted at a federal level; the long-term objective would be a universal care system that does not differentiate between the unemployed, the disabled, and so on. The campaign says Obama has consistently supported single payer health care in principle."

• During a presidential debate aired by CNN on January 21, 2008, Obama said, "What I said was that if I were starting from scratch, if we didn't have a system in which employers had typically provided health care, I would probably go with a single-payer system."

• Finally, in a June 2009 speech to the AMA, Obama expressed admiration for single-payer systems, stating, "let me also address a illegitimate concern that's being put forward by those who are claiming a public option is somehow a Trojan horse for a single-payer system. I'll be honest, there are countries where a single-payer system works pretty well."

For Linda Douglass to market the proposition that Obama and the Democrats haven't pressed for single-payer -- whether through Barney Frank's frank admission or Obama's entire history as an ACORN and SEIU agitator -- is disingenuous at best and outrageous otherwise.

But it's not out of character for an administration that long ago tossed transparency, hope and change under the bus.

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