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Lies, Half-Truths and Talking Points, Part II

More about the Jay Inslee health care townhall meeting.

As was to be expected, one of the questions was, “…if this is such a good program, if you’re going to be on it.” Inslee’s response:

“[You] will be pleased to know that members of the US Congress will be subject to all of the rights and liabilities of this bill, every jot and tittle.”

This goes beyond disingenuousness and right into the realm of deliberate deception. I’ve already covered this bit of double-talk at The Sundries Shack.

“The problem lies not in Inslee’s answer, but in the question itself. Asking the question in such general terms allows him to skirt the issue, and do so with a clear conscience. “Yes, we’ll be subject to the same conditions as everyone else…” and then the unspoken caveat, “which will allow us to keep our current plan as long as our employer continues to offer it.”

It occurs to me that the real question is this: With a “perfectly good” public option in place, is Congress willing to abandon their current, privately underwritten plan and participate in the public option? Furthermore, are they willing to put it on the table during negotiations with SEIU?”

Unlike most of the rest of us, Congress is in the enviable position of setting their own salaries and benefits. Does anyone believe they’ll vote to discontinue their privately underwritten plan?

The most enthusiastically received question of the afternoon, “…in this atmosphere, in this climate of financial crisis with trillions of dollars of deficit we, we have, what is our confidence in the government estimates of both savings and spending? They’ve been wrong over and over and over and over [inaudible due to applause and cheers].”

What’s this? An opportunity to get in a dig at George W. Bush? As I said in my previous post, Inslee is not ashamed to pander to his base.

“You know, uh, you are, you are totally, totally accurate. Uh, I, for one, who has been concerned about the federal deficit for a long time, and I can tell you that you are totally accurate that the U.S. government has been wrong on its predictions of costs. When Paul Wolfowitz and George Bush told us [inaudible]…”

I’m assuming he went on to say something about the cost estimates for the Iraq war. It was hard to hear the specifics over the (roughly equal) cheers and jeers from the crowd. Frankly, I’m not sure why the there was any booing; while I was annoyed that Inslee felt the need to bring up Bush, he was also making the point rather nicely: the government does indeed have a dismal track record when it comes to cost projections.

When the noise died down, he continued:

“Those who are trying to shout me down on this subject, I want you to know, I’m not in-, intimidated by your shouting.”

I almost felt sorry for Inslee at this point. I’m sure he was hoping someone would show up packing a 54 caliber automatic or, at the very least, a really big finger so he’d have an exciting townhall story or two to share around the water cooler. Instead, he’s reduced to claiming that he’s not intimidated by shouting. How manly.

If you were interested in Inslee’s answer to the question that was asked, why the government should be trusted to estimate the cost of this program – sorry, he never answered it. How could he? There is no logical reason we should expect government cost projections to be even in the ballpark. Leaving aside the fact that we’re talking about a group of individuals who can’t even make a guess as to how many people will take advantage of rather generous rebates on new cars, this is an enormous program that’s being proposed. I’m not sure anyone could make accurate projections.

So in place of a real answer, Inslee gave a rambling discourse on the deficit and, well, just how great Jay Inslee really is; how concerned he is about the deficit; how much stuff he knows that you don’t know; how bold he was to defy his own party and vote against TARP (okay, I’ll give him that one…but he did vote for ARRA). It was really quite self-serving, even for a politician.

Cross-posted at It’s Only Words.

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