March 30, 2010 | By Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D.
Mr. President, Heritage does not support Obamacare
President Obama this morning cited The Heritage Foundation’s research in an attempt to sell his health care package as a “middle of the road, centrist approach.” We take great exception to this misuse of our work and abuse of our name. This is but the latest act in a campaign to sell this big-government program as a moderate law that incorporates conservative ideas. Americans should not be fooled.
Let’s be very clear: We oppose this new law because it is a radical new intrusion into the daily lives of all Americans and a massive takeover of one-sixth of the U.S. economy. We view the President’s health care law as inimical to our national interests and offensive to the historic American dedication to the principle of self-government.
Our research has shown that President Obama’s health approach is financially unsustainable and will ultimately lead to health care rationing, a lower quality of care and a greater degree of dependence on government. We deplore those outcomes and are committed to making the intellectual case for this law’s repeal.
What part of that does President Obama not understand?
Specifically, President Obama told NBC’s Today Show host Matt Lauer that a centerpiece of his health care package, “in terms of the exchange, just being able to pool and improve the purchasing power of individuals in the insurance market—that originated from The Heritage Foundation.”
But the President knows full well—or he ought to learn before he speaks—that the exchanges we and most others support are very different from those in his package. True exchanges are simply a market mechanism to enable families to choose their health insurance. President Obama’s exchanges, by contrast, are a vehicle to introduce sweeping regulation and federal standardization on health insurance.
Moreover, we completely disagree that President Obama’s law improves the purchasing power of individuals in the insurance market. On the contrary, it will create a staggeringly complex and costly insurance system that will drive up premiums for Americans.
The President’s health care law is only eight days old, and already it has cost our economy billions of dollars. Late last week, AT&T alone took a $1 billion charge because of the impact of the bill, and the consulting firm Towers Watson told the Wall Street Journal that the total hit this year will reach nearly $14 billion. It is sad, given the present state of our economy, that the President’s party in Congress has reacted not by trying to find ways to spare the jobs that will be lost because of this law. Instead, they are trying to intimidate companies that take such charges with threats that they will be hauled in before the Energy and Commerce Committee.
It is also revealing that President Obama is still struggling to sell the American people on a bill that he and his party rammed through passage by a narrow margin in the face of bipartisan opposition. It is a sign of desperation that he, his handlers and the media echo chamber are reverting to the campaign practice of selling the President and his policies as centrist, middle of the road and aisle-crossing. As the country has found out the hard way in the past 15 months, they are none of those things.
The President has made a habit of using conservative talking points when trying to sell a liberal ideology because he knows that this is a center-right country that rejects his agenda when articulated honestly. His supporters have even tried to pin the blame of the potentially unconstitutional individual mandate on us. This approach brushes over the details of our research and ignores our ability to evolve past further developed research.
Over 16,000 new IRS agents will be hired by the government to enforce the President’s mandate on the American people. The President’s health care plan also raises premiums, taxes, and costs while lowering quality, and expanding Medicaid. These are not conservative ideas.
And let’s be clear, these are not ideas Heritage has ever, or would ever, support.
We made every effort over the past year to share our ideas for better health care reform with the President and members of both parties in Congress, but were not invited behind the closed doors. Now, after the bill is signed, it seems the President wishes we were along for the ride. We were not. We remain fervently opposed to the President’s partisan plan, and urge its immediate repeal. This is not common politics, it’s common sense.
Had President Obama limited his bill to centrist elements, he would have won wide bipartisan support for effective reform both within Congress and among the American people. He would have won it, too, at a fraction of the cost of this intolerable, huge and intrusive legislation. He would not now be facing popular rejection by the American people. And he would not need to misrepresent Heritage policies and positions in an attempt to give his radical health plan the patina of respectability.
Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D.
The Heritage Foundation