President Obama's recent speech to the AMA is a great example. Consider this quote from his speech:
Make no mistake: the cost of our health care is a threat to our economy. It is an escalating burden on our families and businesses. It is a ticking time-bomb for the federal budget. And it is unsustainable for the United States of America.
Work with me now and let's look closely at his words:
Firstly, I love the introductory phrase that is meant to dismiss out of hand any contrary view as obsurd or crazy: "Make no mistake". Whenever you hear this phrase it should raise a red flag. It is similar to the person who says, "I'm going to be honest with you..." and then proceeds with some supposed fact or explanation. Turn and run as fast as you can! The "honest with you" phrase is an indicator to be very, very careful. President Obama is a master at these phrases. "Make no mistake" is designed to establish a playing field (an uneven playing field to be sure) on his terms and dismiss contraditions before they have a chance even to take root. Well, I am not going to fall into his rhetorical trap but am going to take issue with his statement.
Next: "the cost of healthcare is a threat to our economy." I think this is an overstatement and is a "the enemy is at the gates" approach to legitimizing radical measures in the name of a "crisis". Let us concede the point however: perhaps the cost of healthcare is threatening our economy but is the answer really to put healthcare more and more in the hands of government? When did government ever do anything as efficiently and cost effectively as the private sector? This is not a rhetorical question... truly name one endeavor where the government (in the US or in any country) has been the icon of efficiency and ingenuity. NEVER! Like him or detest him, perhaps the greatest truth Ronald Reagan ever spoke has direct application to the case of healthcare:
Let us proceed. "It is a ticking time-bomb for the federal budget." Let me translate for you. "The sky is falling, the sky is falling. I will save us all but you must do exactly as I say." It strikes me as interesting that we are forbidden to use waterboarding in a "ticking time-bomb" scenario but our politician's feel free to to appeal to such language and hold the illiteration of a ticking time-bomb over our heads to coerce us into hasty action. Again, perhaps it is a "ticking time-bomb" but my immediate response is not to fundamentally change the fabric of American society by adopting state run solutions (i.e. a socialist fix) but to ask, "how much time is left before the bomb explodes and, with the time remaining, how many lawyers can we extricate from the healthcare body politic to slow and eventaully stop the hemorrhaging?"
Finally: "and it is unsustainable for the United States of America." I'm sorry President Obama, you lost ALL credibility to talk about sustainability in any way, shape, form or application when you posed your budget with irresponsible levels of federal spending and historic deficit levels. These deficit levels, while claiming to drop in 2012, then climb back up for the next six years to record levels. By definition, this spending and deficit plan is NOT SUSTAINABLE.