Heritage Foundation Rips Obama's Healthcare Claim

Conservative think tank says the president distorted its position.

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By Peter Roff, the Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Now that the healthcare bill has passed, President Barack Obama is engaged in the arduous task of selling it to the American people.

It's a tough job. In the latest Rasmussen poll, 54 percent of likely voters favor outright repeal of the new law as opposed to 42 percent who say they support it. According to pollster Scott Rasmussen, the numbers are "virtually unchanged from last week and the week before" and include 43 percent who strongly favor repeal versus 32 percent who strongly oppose it.

Against this background, Obama is trying to present the new law as a moderate compromise. And he's being watched like a hawk while he does it.

Today, the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based conservative think tank, issued a broadside complaining that, in an interview with NBC's Matt Lauer, Obama had distorted its position on healthcare reform in an effort to show the plan had wider support than it actually enjoys.

In fact, Obama did tell Lauer that a key component of the new healthcare law was originally proposed by the conservative think tank. "In terms of the exchange, just being able to pool and improve the purchasing power of individuals in the insurance market—that originated from the Heritage Foundation," the president said.

Not so, says Heritage:

"The president knows full well—or he ought to learn before he speaks—that the exchanges we and most others support are very different from those in his package. True exchanges are simply a market mechanism to enable families to choose their health insurance. President Obama's exchanges, by contrast, are a vehicle to introduce sweeping regulation and federal standardization on health insurance."

"Moreover, we completely disagree that President Obama's law improves the purchasing power of individuals in the insurance market. On the contrary, it will create a staggeringly complex and costly insurance system that will drive up premiums for Americans."

In its brief against Obama, Heritage goes on to cite other developments, including the announcement of a $1 billion charge against earnings taken last week by AT&T, that show Obama's signature accomplishment is proving even more costly than many forecasters predicted. And that's just the first shoe.