Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- President Obama repeatedly states two things about his national healthcare initiative that are not true: First, that we cannot have truly long-term economic growth until we replace the present healthcare system with an entirely new government-imposed one. Second, that the plan will end the explosion in healthcare costs.

In fact, there have been periods in our county's economic history when we've experienced relatively long-term growth with the healthcare system we have now. The most recent being the nearly 25 years of growth that followed the 1981-1982 recession (with a shallow slide in the early 1990s) when the Dow Jones rose to 14,000, unemployment fell to about 4 percent, U.S. exports were booming, and new business formation soared.

Indeed, during this time, the healthcare industry was one of the biggest and most dependable sources of job creation, even when jobs became increasingly hard to find elsewhere in the economy.

As to the reduction of spiraling healthcare costs, just the opposite is likely to result as healthcare demands skyrocket, fueled by trillions of dollars in government subsidies that will be poured into the system, overburdening an industry struggling to keep up with the demands we place on it now.

Despite claims that his healthcare plan will spur economic growth for years to come, Obama is pushing so-called healthcare reforms that will weaken our economy.

The House and Senate bills making their way through the legislative system will impose draconian tax rates on investors and small-business owners who will be forced to provide health-insurance benefits that will drive many of them out of business. Moreover, it will force the nation's private insurers to unfairly compete with a federally subsidized public health-insurance system that will impose expensive new health mandates on them. That will, in turn, drive up their costs and their prices -- forcing many out of the marketplace.

If it is true that timing in politics is everything, Obama and the Democrats couldn't have picked the worst time to enact their sweeping nationalization of our healthcare system -- during one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression.

The administration says the higher taxes, penalties, regulations and the other government mandates on individuals and businesses will not take effect until 2011 when they expect the recession to be over.

But government economists said last week that the economy could still be quite weak at that time and may not achieve full recovery for another five years. And this forecast doesn't take into consideration all of the cost burdens that national health care will throw at it.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.