Obama Calls Healthcare Critics Names Rather Than Debating Them

The current American healthcare system may be the world's worst—except for all the others.

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By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Give Dr. Larry Hunter, the former chief economist for the United States Chamber of Commerce and founder of the Social Security Institute, considerable points for creativity.

Hunter is one of hundreds of Obama opponents who have taken to the Internet to make the case for opposing the Obama agenda. His latest project is an online petition where citizens can request to "opt out" of any future government-run, politicized healthcare system.

"President Obama and the Congress are racing toward government-run and government-mandated healthcare," the site says, making the case that under the Obama plan, healthcare consumers—who, in another era were called patients—will "no longer be able to keep your insurance, choose your own doctors or control your own health and well being."

The president and his closest advisers dispute these claims, but not by debating with Hunter or anyone else. Instead they make pronouncements about what the different ideas on the table would or would not do to the doctor-patient relationship as though that was all there was to it.

"I know that there are millions of Americans who are content with their healthcare coverage—they like their plan and they value their relationship with their doctor," Obama told the American Medical Association. "That means no matter how we reform healthcare, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what. My view is that healthcare reform should be guided by a simple principle: Fix what's broken and build on what works," the president promised.

Of course, as I wrote here on Thomas Jefferson Street yesterday, he also promised that people making less than $250,000 per year wouldn't see their taxes go up.

The problem Hunter and other Obamacare opponents face, well one of them anyway, is that while they are building up armies of Internet activists through tea parties and online petitions, the White House refuses to engage with them. Rather, the administration sends the president out to call them names, as he did before the AMA:

We also know that there are those who will try and scuttle this opportunity no matter what—who will use the same scare tactics and fear-mongering that's worked in the past. They'll give dire warnings about socialized medicine and government takeovers; long lines and rationed care; decisions made by bureaucrats and not doctors. We've heard it all before—and because these fear tactics have worked, things have kept getting worse.

Scare tactics? Fear-mongering? Or evidence. We know, from Europe, from Canada, and now from Massachusetts, that grand plans for government-run, government-mandated, political healthcare don't work as advertised. In some instances, in some individual cases, they don't even work at all. They do result in longer waiting times for patients to receive critical services. And they do lead to rationing because rationing becomes necessary to the allotment of scarce resources—including doctors and hospital beds. And that the government must, in the name of keeping costs down, set policies that dictate what decisions doctors and specialists will make in many instances.

Churchill once said that democracy was the worst form of government ever devised, with the exception of every other kind. It may be true, counter to what Obama says, that the current American healthcare system may be the world's worst—except for all the others.