In a political landscape littered by multi-billion dollar bailouts, massive protests in Iran and an attempted federal takeover of the health care system, one story recently passed with barely a ripple.
“Six Flags Declares Bankruptcy,” was tucked away on page A6 of The Washington Post on June 14. And rightly so, since the story about a failing theme park chain wasn’t nearly as crucial as the paper’s front pager on the Obama administration’s spending plan. That story included a handy graphic showing that the president intends to borrow $9 trillion in the next decade, almost three times the cost of World War II.
So why is Six Flags under water? “We inherited an unsustainable $2.4 billion debt load from the previous management team,” chief executive Mark Shapiro announced. The company plans to cuts costs and eliminate debt.
There’s a lesson there, should anyone in the administration care to learn it. In the real world, if your predecessor runs up too much debt, you have to reduce that debt to survive.
Instead, President Obama insists that, while “the reckless fiscal policies of the past have left us in a very deep hole,” he still plans to borrow trillions more. Odd.
The disconnect between the president’s words and his actions is even starker when it comes to health care.
“There are millions of Americans who are content with their health care coverage -- they like their plan and, most importantly, they value their relationship with their doctor,” Obama recently told the American Medical Association. “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.” Sounds good.
However, then he announced a proposal that would, inevitably, take away millions of people’s private plans. He declared support for a “public option” that would purportedly “inject competition into the health care market so that we can force waste out of the system and keep the insurance companies honest.”
Of course, he’s talking about a government-run health insurance plan. And it’s worth noting that the government doesn’t compete; it compels. Once Washington is offering health insurance, it’ll start setting prices for services that are lower than those services are worth. This is how it squeezes costs down in Medicare, where private insurance companies pay more to make up the difference.
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