There was a lot going on during President Obama's shamefully tardy press conference today. In the course of an hour, he packed in a ton of excuses, a weird takedown of his entire philosophy of government - don't blame him, blame the system he demands your absolute obedience to! - a pile of gaffes that we'll soon be seeing in Republican ads, and a last-ditch desperation effort to shift blame for the ObamaCare fiasco to insurance companies. Oh, and he said something really confusing about Iran, which could be boiled down to "thank God a helpful media ally asked me about something other than ObamaCare."
Obama's excuse-making amounts to a devastating indictment of managerial liberalism - the Big Government technocratic statism that he used to champion without question or hesitation. Listening to him today, the proverbial visitor from Mars would be astonished to learn this is the same man who thought a trillion-dollar industry had to be brought under government control, because private companies could not be trusted to offer the right products, and foolish American child-citizens could not be trusted to buy what they really needed. Now he speaks of his own folly in failing to follow up - apparently even one single time - on the progress of his gigantic signature initiative. He claims he didn't make so much as a quick phone call to see how HealthCare.gov was coming along before the formal launch on October 1. He blindly assumed his underlings would keep him up to speed... but they didn't... and it's their fault. Except he's not planning to fire any of them, so it isn't even really their "fault." It's just one of those things - a natural disaster, a tsunami of incompetence.
But hey, what did you people expect? Didn't you know that the federal procurement system is a mess, as Obama assured us today? That must have been one of those things he told us subliminally over the past five years, like all the fine print he now claims he was telepathically beaming at us when he said things like, "If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep your health insurance plan. No one is going to take it away from you, period." Now he says the "period" was actually a microdot, and if voters had just thought to zoom in on it with powerful lenses, they would have seen it contained a hundred pages of exceptions and conditions, big enough to cover the five million people (and counting) that have indeed lost their insurance policies. Somewhere in there, he also warned us that federal procurement was a mess, and laws forcing people to buy expensive cars they can't afford (an analogy he deployed today, for his own health care scheme!) are kind of stupid, and nobody would ever be held to account for any level of failure, and you can't really expect the Great Men and Great Women of this mighty Administration to be honest with you while they're trying to manage your life, and we would never be able to break the "contract" we were about to sign with Big Government, even if it didn't come anywhere near living up to its end of the deal.
The Left has been suckering voters by blending managerial liberalism with the welfare state for a long time. Obama laughably tried to puff out his chest and thunder that he refuses to turn his back on "40 million uninsured" today, even has he throws five million innocent people to the wolves. If his promise is interpreted literally, he's vowing to give ObamaCare benefits to illegal aliens, because that's the only way to get to 40 million uninsured. He usually chokes off those wild numbers and throws out lower figures when he's reminded of this, but I guess it was important for him to cite an impressive figure to look like a Super Duper Statesman today. It was important for him to evoke figures of pity and sympathy - the poor downtrodden uninsurable - while defending a system he just admitted was sold on false premises, designed by people who didn't know what they were doing, and managed by people who didn't know what the people who didn't know what they were doing were up to.
The welfare appeal is supposed to disable our reason so we accept total State control over our lives, reaching into many things that not only have nothing to do with providing for the indigent, but very little to do with whatever their bloated programs are supposedly about. Did you know ObamaCare includes a tax on... real estate sales? What on Earth does that have to do with "affordable health care?"
We're supposed to tolerate ObamaCare's ten thousand little tentacles wriggling into every corner of our lives, while Obama defies the Constitutional limits of his power to pluck vital organs from his monstrosity and tuck them into jars until his Party survives the next election. There's no pretense of logic, legal authority, or anything except pure politics to these decisions. Employers are terrified of getting crushed by their mandate, so out comes the monster's liver. People are furious about losing their insurance plans, so out comes the monster's lung. No one puts much effort into pretending it has a brain any more.
The latest "fix" is a gracious offer for insurance companies to sell products they can no longer afford to provide, thanks to the ObamaCare mandates. They know perfectly well that this is a meaningless, entirely political maneuver designed to set them up as scapegoats, and wasted little time striking back. It looks like the White House has lost the leverage it needed to intimidate them into silence. The real point of today's press conference was not to reassure or comfort the American people - Obama cares so little for that rabble that he doesn't even bother showing up for his appearances on time. The point was to persuade terrified Democrats that he'll be able to pin blame for the insurance cancellation debacle on the private sector. This was an audition for Barack Obama's greatest finger-pointing performance yet.
It's not likely to work - in fact, there are already nervous insurance industry sources talking about pulling out of dicey markets, which means even more people would lose their insurance because of Obama's "fix." And it's the opposite of what needs to be done. The Number One item on the American agenda is the immediate and complete repeal of ObamaCare, root and branch. The one and only way to rescue all those canceled insurance policies is to unleash the power of free markets, and pronto.
"Oh, sure," the left-winger will scoff. "Those nice old Santa Clauses in the insurance industry will jump right in their sleds and bring policy goodies to the people, out of the goodness of their hearts!" No, that's not what they will do... and that's why it will work.
If the shackles of government regulation, and the specter of incompetent politicians like Barack Obama micro-managing the markets, are removed, competitive providers can find ways to sell products at prices people can afford. Get the so-called "uninsurables" out of the way first. The truly indigent need charitably provided health care, not insurance policies. Likewise for people with pre-existing conditions - they need treatment plans they can afford, not phony "insurance" policies. As the poor enrollment numbers for ObamaCare attest, there really aren't that many people in these situations. They can be taken care for a fraction of the money already wasted on Obama's statist boondoggle. If only we had done that in the first place, how much money - how many jobs - would have been saved!
The vast majority of the population can be best served by aggressive competition, unimpeded by foolish heavy-handed regulation, mandated benefits customers don't want to pay for, and silly obstacles that frustrate competition. The private sector has a knack for matching customers with resources, devising innovative strategies that flummox government planners. Give the free market a chance to catch up with the five million people Barack Obama has already left without insurance, and save the 90 million plans he'll kill if ObamaCare is not repealed, and they will find a way. The President just spent an hour explaining, at great length, that his mega-government is unworthy of our trust. But if we trust each other, and demand the commensurate level of freedom, we can get this done. Free people engaged in voluntary commerce can work wonders, when their private enterprises are not drafted into service as welfare offices. The cost of dealing with serious social ills should be fairly assessed and honestly presented to voters, not hidden behind a thick, flabby layer of pass-through taxation by craven politicians.
Charity for the truly needy... capitalism for the rest of us.