Saturday, September 12, 2009

Joe Wilson’s War

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) shouted “You lie” at the President during the latter’s speech to the Congress on Wednesday night. (The President had just said that his healthcare plan would not cover illegal aliens.) Of course, Wilson was right – I’d be hard-pressed to deny that the President lies, having taken that very position on this blog more than once, and I think he was lying in this particular case – but Wilson was also surely out of line to say so then and there.

Gail Collins writes this morning that “just to make sure nobody else ever goes off the rails like this again, the Senate Finance Committee is changing its version of the health care bill from one that does not provide benefits to illegal immigrants to one that absolutely, positively, for sure does not provide benefits to illegal immigrants.” I think that Ms. Collins, funny as ever, has sacrificed truth to accuracy. What really happened is that the Senate Finance Committee is changing its version of the health care bill from one that says it does not provide benefits to illegal immigrants to one that actually does not provide benefits to illegal immigrants.

This little distinction sadly captures the essence of the President’s method. His plan, recall, will not “force” anyone to change their health plans – it will merely result in their having no practical choice but to do so. Likewise, to say that the bill prohibits illegal aliens from getting free healthcare is like saying that our immigration laws prohibit them from being here in the first place. As, of course, they do.

On the merits of the issue, I don’t care. Indeed, I actually prefer illegal aliens’ being covered to my having to prove that I am a citizen. I mean, if healthcare is a universal human right, if we provide it to convicted felons, why on earth should we not provide it to anyone who can figure out how to get to the doctor? If the only effect of the bill is to make illegal aliens the only ones who still use the ER as a primary care center, what’s the point of the exclusion? And if I think that way, can we believe BHO does not think similarly? Which means he’s lying about what the bill does not because he thinks it lacks a flaw that it has, but because that flaw is entirely consistent with his program.

And, as Forest Gump might say, that’s all I have to say about that.


  1. Larry- I found these last two blogs to be far off the mark. They both seem to be based upon your belief that a "public option" would be terrible, and is the most important part of the proposed health reform that BHO outlined (magnificently) last Wednesday.

    You must read different newspapers or watch different TV satations than the rest of us.

    Here are my objections to your two blogs;

    1. In case you missed it, BHO has given up (much to my chagrin) on the public option.I do not think that the inclusion of a public option would have had any of the dire consequences that you seem to fear.The CBO's estimate was that no more than 4% of people covered by private plans would have shifted to a public option. Surely, the likes of Aetna, Cigna and United Healthcare could have survived these "mass defections".

    2. The difference between the overhead of Medicare (3%) is far less than the range of overhead costs (20-30%) of the private insurers

    3. Most of the countries in western Europe have a public option to their private plans, and they have woked well.

    4. Why don't you spend more time critiquing that which is in the proposal like Universal coverage (except for illegal aliens)or the cost controls that are proposed.That would be a meaningful discussion. A discussion about a public option is a waste of time.

    As to Joe Wilson;

    1. Wilson was WRONG. There is nothing in either the House or Senate proposal that would allow for illegal aliens to be covered by any public plan. I would appreciate your pointing out where you believe that there is any proposal that would allow for this to happen.

    2. I agree with you that we would be better off covering illegal aliens. We are paying for them anyway.

    3. Wilson would never have made hos comment has BHO been a WASP.

  2. Irwin -

    The point of both recent posts is that the President pretends that what a law says is more important than what happens on account of it. There are no laws that say that a Mexican may enter this country without a visa. Can we conclude from that fact that there are no Mexicans who are here without visas?

    The folks the President sought to mollify on Wednesday don't care whether the law purports to exclude illegals. They care whether illegals will in fact secure coverage, which, apparently they will be able to do under the current bill by merely claiming to be here legally. Illegal aliens sneak into the country. Do you think they wouldn't sneak into the health system? (And, if they aren't covered, would they be denied care at ER's? The whole thing is a red herring, yet BHO acts like he's got it covered. The lie isn't so much in what he says as in the implication that it actually makes a difference.)

    Ditto the business about the public option. I don't know what's in the public option, as it doesn't exist yet (sort of like the facts of what happened at Skippy's house), so I am not in a position to say what effect it will have. And neither are you or the CBO. The CBO may have commented on one version, but as BHO said on Wednesday, there are "significant" details to work out. How can the details be significant and unknown but the effects of the option be known? That's just silly. The CBO's latest pronouncement is at

    (I don't seem able to get the link to appear in a comment.) The CBO's letter includes this: "We have not completed an assessment of the legislation as it was ultimately approved by the committee, including the amendments that were adopted during markup of the bill." So the jury is still out - way out - on the actual effects of the bill.

    Whereas the details of the Plan remain murky, it is clear, again, that what matters is not whether the law "forces" anyone to change their health insurance but whether the existence of the option causes employers to change them as a matter of business judgment. Yet BHO shouts from the mountaintop, twice for emphasis, that no one will be forced to change their plans. Again, the statement is accurate: the lie is in the feigned relevance.

    And then there's the problem of a President who thinks profit is "overhead." What's your take on that? Did this greatest-orator-ever misspeak? Or is he, as I suspect, quite simply anti-business because, as a superior human being, he is ashamed of the profit motive when messianic verve is so much more compelling a motivation?

  3. Larry- Your dislike of BHO is showing. You accuse BHO of lying. I reject that claim. By the logic of your remarks, and the standard that you set for him, then Thomas Jefferson was a liar when he wrote in the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal". (I probably could also go through Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and find some "lies".) I am particularly troubled by your characterization of BHO being a liar, because I think that is one of the worst things you can say about a person.

    You are correct in saying that wioth repect to illegal aliens, the "whole thing is a red herring". If the crazies out there are obsessed with whether or not a few illegal aliens "sneak" into the system, you should not be carrying their water. Only the most tortured interpretations of what is (in fact) in the House bill would find concern in whether or not illegal aliens could "sneak" into the health care system. I do believe that the proposal in the House bill covers the issue.

    I trust that you are not suggesting that it would be wise and cost efficient to set up an elaborate verification system for people who come into use hospital or MD services to make sure that they are illegal. That is simply not a workable solution.

    With regard to the public option;

    1. I was unable to open up the link to the CBO.

    2. I also don't understand how you can take a pass on the public option because "I don't know what's in the public option, as it doesn't exist yet", and yet be so sure about what is in the bill with respect to illegal aliens, and be so sure of your position.

    3. The point with respect to the public option that you still refuse to recognize is that it is a DEAD ISSUE.Don't lose any sleep over it.

    4. You also have not yet cited any provision in either the Senate or House bill that would "force" anyone to change their coverage.

    5. As to the question of whether or not BHO understands the difference between profit and overhead, I think you are guilty again of parsing political rhetoric. Do you really believe that he doesn't understand the difference? C'mon.

    Finally, I was disappointed that you did not pick up on my request to engage in some debate about the other provisions of BHO's health care plan, and that you have no comment to my remarks about Joe Wilson, especially comment #3.


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