Thomas Sowell
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Distracting the audience's attention is one of the ways magicians pull off some of their tricks. President Barack Obama's televised news conference on medical care shows that he is something of a magician when it comes to politics.

The big trick for the president is to convince the public that he can add tens of millions of people to his government medical care plan without raising the costs. But an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office showed that Obamacare would in fact raise the costs and increase the deficit by billions of dollars.

With both common sense and economic analysis saying that Obama cannot expand government medical care without expanding the already runaway federal deficit, it is quite a trick to get the public to believe otherwise-- a big challenge requiring big distractions.

One of those distractions has been to blame current high costs on scapegoats whom the president can rein in. Talking about the high pay of the CEOs of pharmaceutical companies is one of those distractions.

In an industry where developing just one new pharmaceutical drug can cost a billion dollars, whether the head of a mega-billion-dollar pharmaceutical company is paid a million dollars a year, 20 million dollars or works free of charge is not likely to raise or lower the cost of the medicine you buy by one dollar.

But, if making the CEO's pay an issue can distract your attention from the impossible math used by Barack Obama and his supporters, then that is a trick worthy of Houdini.

Insurance companies are another distraction and a scapegoat because they do not insure "pre-existing conditions." Stop and think about it: If you could wait until you got sick to take out health insurance, why would you buy that insurance while you are well?

You could avoid paying all those premiums and then-- after you got sick-- take out health insurance and let the premiums paid by other people pay for your medical treatment.

That is not "bringing down the cost of health care." It is sticking somebody else with paying those costs. So is taxing "the rich." So is passing on those costs to your children and grandchildren through government deficit spending.

When Obama makes the insurance companies the villains for not insuring pre-existing conditions, that gives him another distraction and enables him to be another escape artist, like Houdini.

What is the point of government-controlled medical care if it is not going to lower costs but just shuffle them around, like a shell game?

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Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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