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Obama’s Health-Care Audacity

June 29, 2017
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President Obama has been busy since leaving office. In February he was photographed kite surfing with billionaire Richard Branson in the British Virgin Islands. March brought a visit to Hawaii, followed by four weeks in French Polynesia and yachting with David Geffen, Oprah, Tom Hanks and Bruce Springsteen.

May included biking and golfing at a pal’s luxury hotel in Tuscany, before speeches in Berlin and Scotland, the latter providing the chance to play 12 holes at St. Andrews. Now the Obamas are in Indonesia for a nostalgic return to what was briefly his childhood home. But before jetting off on Friday, the former president, that champion of the poor and dispossessed, waded into the health-care debate with a lengthy Facebook post.

It was a trite, tone-deaf, partisan and condescending attack on the Senate Republicans’ health-care proposal. The comments show that the former president, still prickly and defensive, doesn’t understand how flawed ObamaCare really is.

Mr. Obama sold the Affordable Care Act with well-formulated falsehoods. “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” he said repeatedly, and “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” The law would “cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year.” It would “bend the cost curve” for health care, he said, without adding “one dime to the deficit.” None of this was true, and Mr. Obama must have known that.

So did he address these failings in his Facebook post? Of course not. The former president changed his talking points for ObamaCare. “Women can’t be charged more for their insurance,” he bragged—but the GOP proposal doesn’t alter that policy. “Young people can stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26,” he said—but Republicans would leave that in place, too. “Contraceptive care and preventive care are now free,” Mr. Obama added—except taxpayers actually pay for them with levies on, among other things, hospital stays, medical devices and insurance policies. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama shoved his broken promises down the memory hole.

Mr. Obama did repeat the left’s canards that the GOP proposal “would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid.” He piously added: “That’s not my opinion, but rather the conclusion of all objective analysis,” starting with “the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.”

The CBO, however, did not issue its report on the Senate legislation until four days after Mr. Obama posted on Facebook. And when the CBO report did come out, it didn’t back up his indictment. For example, the CBO concluded: “By 2026, average premiums for benchmark plans for single individuals in most of the country under this legislation would be about 20 percent lower than under current law.”

One could scour the CBO’s report in vain for anything to justify saying the bill would “roll back protections” or “ruin Medicaid.” Under the Senate plan, Medicaid outlays would continue to rise, albeit at a slower rate.

Wielding the left’s favorite new club, Mr. Obama also claimed that “23 million Americans would lose insurance” if the GOP bill passes. But how can that be, since only 10 million people get coverage through the ObamaCare exchanges? Further, how many of those people want insurance in the first place? The CBO says that “in 2018, 15 million more people would be uninsured under this legislation than under current law—primarily because the penalty for not having insurance would be eliminated.”

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And that’s not the worst of the Democrats’ rhetoric. Sen. Bernie Sanders says that if the Republican legislation passes “thousands of people will die.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren claims Republicans want to pay for “juicy tax cuts for their rich buddies” with “blood money.” The left-wing Center for American Progress pegs the number of Republican-caused deaths over the next decade at a precise 217,000. Hillary Clinton ratcheted it up by tweeting: “If Republicans pass this bill, they’re the death party.”

These comments demonstrate how intellectually bankrupt Democratic leaders are on health care. ObamaCare is falling apart, with its major promises broken. Democratic leaders have offered no package to fix it because it’s structurally unsound and unfixable. All they can do is scream “Disease and death!” and hope Republicans are dissuaded from fixing the mess.

The danger for Republicans lies in not acting, which would allow Democrats to brag about all the imaginary terrible things they prevented from happening. The danger for Democrats comes if Republicans act and then voters see that the dreadful outcomes liberals predicted never come to pass (as happened with welfare reform). Victory will go to the active, not the timid. Your move, Senate Republicans. Don’t blow it.

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