Examiner Editorial: President’s bipartisan flimflammery exposed 

Two weeks ago, President Barack Obama challenged Republican congressional leaders to join him in a nationally televised summit to discuss their respective proposals for health care reform. Republicans publicly wondered if Obama’s proposal represented a refreshing new attempt by the chief executive to display genuine bipartisanship and whether they should trust him to come to the summit with a truly open mind. We now know the answer to both questions is a resounding “no.”

On Monday, Obama unveiled a “new” health care proposal. It costs an eye-popping $950 billion (that’s the White House’s rosy estimate) and represents nothing more than a warmed-over version of the 2,500-plus page Obamacare proposals passed last year by the Senate and House. Like its predecessors, this latest version features government price-fixing of the rates health insurance companies can charge. It includes a sweetheart deal to protect unions’ expensive health care plans from taxation imposed on nonunion health plans. And worst of all, it still forces all Americans to fork over a hefty chunk of their income for a government-approved health insurance product, under penalty of heavy fines or imprisonment.

How does the White House pay for this monstrosity? The Congressional Budget Office said there’s insufficient detail available for it to estimate the new plan’s cost to the federal government. But according to Americans for Tax Reform, the bill represents a net federal tax increase of $629 billion, much of which will be paid by Americans earning less than $250,000, thus violating Obama’s campaign pledge. Further, many of the new taxes seem specially targeted to choke off economic growth. In particular, the bill includes a 2.9 percent Medicare tax on all unearned income.

To gain passage of his proposal, Obama has joined Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in an arcane legislative magic act known as “budget reconciliation.” Only 51 Senate votes — not the usual 60 required to pass major legislation — are needed to approve a reconciliation measure in the Senate, and a simple majority of 218 in the House.

Reconciliation is supposed to be for tying up loose ends — for technical, budget-balancing measures. But Democrats want to use it to put a government bureaucrat between patients and their doctors. This, despite the recent Gallup poll that, like so many other recent polls, shows a strong majority of Americans want Congress to go back to start over on health care reform.

The president talks bipartisanship, but his proposal and his actions this week make clear that he and congressional Democrats are running a Washington, D.C., con game and hoping the American people won’t figure out they’re the mark, yet again, until it’s too late.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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