Jon Sanders

Despite months of campaigning, pleading, browbeating, demonizing insurance companies and upstart Republicans and stretching the truth on a Procrustean bed of sound bytes, Pres. Obama is seeing increased opposition to his health care plan. As more facts about it emerge, the more people reject it.

The president's recent travails with his health care efforts — I balk at the word "reform" since, although Obama's plan would indeed amount to a reformation, it would be woefully lacking in the positive outcomes the word "reform" implies — were entirely foreseeable. It's likely the president and his administration knew as much; yes, I'm not buying the excuse du jour that the reason for all the hurry this summer was that this unfathomably costly program would magically fix the deficit.

The strength of a "Hope and Change" campaign, as many noted, was that it was so vague and touchy-feely that it encouraged voters to project their own hopes and dreams of change onto the image of the largely unknown and unexamined candidate. Once the elected politician began providing details on what his changes actually would be, however, hopes started dashing right and left.

No doubt few hoped that change in the nation's health care industry would be the kind that we now know would result from "Obamacare." Having been told for several years now that the crisis in America is that millions of people here don't have health insurance (often shortened to the more alarming but factually incorrect "don't have health care"), people find it difficult to reconcile those alarms with the administration's animus against private health insurance providers. If they're so bad, remind us again why was it so terrible that not enough people chose to contract with them for insurance?

Likely few hoped to see health care change that would effectively dump folks off the private insurance they already have. Few probably hoped to see private health insurance made to become more expensive. It's hard to imagine many people hoping that the government would not only get involved in providing health insurance, but also so stack the deck against private providers as to effectively compel businesses to offer the "public option" and individuals to take it. Nor is it easy to think of many people who would approve of the president playing cutesy with that technicality by saying the government wouldn't force people off the insurance they have now.


Jon Sanders

Jon Sanders is associate director of research at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, N.C.