Obama compares Obamacare to Social Security, Medicare 

President Obama defended his effective regulatory takeover of health care and health insurance yesterday, comparing his program to Social Security and to Medicare:

Q    But my question is about health care reform.  I would say all of us in this room understand that the health care reform act that you championed and was passed is critical for the whole country, but somehow the opposition got the message ahead of us and now there isn’t widespread support.  I want to know what you and others are doing to turn that around to help people realize how important that reform act is.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, I appreciate the support and I appreciate the work you’re doing on education.  It turns out that when Social Security was passed, initially it was really unpopular, and all kinds of lawsuits were brought against Social Security.  And people said we were going socialist.  Sound familiar?  (Laughter.)  And now everybody loves Social Security, because once the program got up and running, people understood, you know what, this provides a basic floor, a baseline, so if something goes wrong in my life, even though I’m doing all the responsible things, even though I’m saving, I’m working hard every day, I’m looking out for my family, I’m doing what I’m supposed to do -- if at the end, somehow, things didn’t work out the way I planned, I’ve still got this baseline of savings.

Then, when Medicare was passed in the middle ‘60s, lo and behold, it turns out it was very controversial.  And everybody said this is socialized medicine, and there were efforts to repeal it.  And then once it got up and running, lo and behold, people said, you know what, it’s a good thing that our senior citizens now, if they don’t have the health care that they need, they don’t have money, they have something to count on so that if they get sick they’ve got some support.

That's lovely, but this is a pretty lousy time for Obama to make the comparison.

Take Social Security first. Those of us in the 20-40 age range are today staring down two possibilities. The first is that in the 2030s, just as our generation begins to retire, our Social Security benefits will automatically be cut (under current law) to accommodate whatever the incoming revenues can cover. The second possiblity is that we will be forced to pay higher taxes between now and then in order to preserve the same benefits that currently exist, or slightly worse ones. Either way, we will pay more and get less. As for Medicare, yes, people love getting stuff paid for by someone else. Unfortunately, the program is an unsustainable actuarial nightmare because we aren't reproducing at a sufficient rate to sustain it.

Obamacare does have something in common with these two entitlements: Both of them could have worked if they had been less ambitious. If Social Security and Medicare had been means-tested programs -- that is, if not for the liberal ideological imperative that they pay out to everyone -- we wouldn't be forced to scale either one back now. If Obamacare had simply focused on helping insure more poor people, rather than trebling state control over every American's health insurance plan, it might be a popular program.

In fact, if he had done that, we might still have a Democratic Congress, and he would be assured of a second term.

About The Author

David Freddoso

David Freddoso came to the Washington Examiner in June 2009, after serving for nearly two years as a Capitol Hill-based staff reporter for National Review Online. Before writing his New York Times bestselling book, The Case Against Barack Obama, he spent three years assisting Robert Novak, the legendary Washington... more
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