Donald Lambro
WASHINGTON -- President Obama's government-run healthcare plan has been hooked up to life-support systems as he prepares to make one more desperate attempt to pull it back from the brink of death.

The president's decision to remake the case for its passage before a joint session of Congress next Wednesday is based on the mistaken belief that his plan lost public support because it lacked a clear, compelling message. But the centerpiece of his presidency was brought down by much bigger and far more strategic weaknesses than Obama's confusingly vague and often contradictory arguments in its behalf.

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Americans instinctively rebelled against it because they do not think that government can run any business efficiently and effectively, least of all the nation's complex healthcare system; that with the government running up trillions of dollars in new debts, we cannot afford to add yet another huge spending entitlement program to its bills; and because of the certainty that a new federally regulated healthcare system will rob us of the freedom to make our own medical decisions without government interference and the often unintended consequences that invariably flows from the nanny state.

Increasingly, as people considered what the Democratic-run Congress and Obama were contemplating, the idea of passing a trillion-dollar-plus healthcare plan (whose real cost will be much larger), they quickly came to the conclusion that this did not make any fiscal sense.

Last month, the White House said the government will run a $1.5 trillion deficit this year, followed by a $1.5 trillion deficit next year, a $1.12 trillion deficit the year after that, and a nearly $1 trillion deficit the year after that.

Before Obama, the deficit never exceeded $500 billion. With the U.S. economy still in a recession, and the government plunging more deeply into debt, enacting a new monstrously expensive social-welfare spending plan sounded crazy.

But the plan's strategic killer was the loss of public confidence that the government could successfully run the massive healthcare reforms Obama had in mind. When a new CBS News poll asked voters if the government or private health insurers "could do a better job of providing healthcare coverage," only 36 percent chose government -- a decline of 14 points since June. However, nearly half, 47 percent, said the government "would do a worse job," up by 13 points since June.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.



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