There is so much that is wrong in this op-ed by Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer that it is difficult to know where to begin.
First, their charge that the protesters are "un-American" because they are drowning out opposing views is idiotic. Did the Speaker ever complain about the students at Columbia University who stormed the stage and took over a speech by one of the founders of the Minutemen? Did she ever criticize Code Pink for any of their numerous disruptions of Congressional hearings? No, for her to criticize and denounce the demonstrations that are happening now is the definition of hypocrisy. Apparently dissent is no longer patriotic.
I do hope for a more civilized and honest debate, but here again Speaker Pelosi and Mr. Hoyer are not being honest themselves.
They speak of "facts" yet offer none. They rely on a series of "never agains" to make their point, but the utopian vision of health care they offer will not happen - certainly not with the bills in Congress now. Unless the government is going to guarantee all payments or procedures, or force everyone to get catastrophic care insurance, then there will always be someone who is in danger of bankruptcy from medical bills or losing coverage - or at least some quality of care - when they lose their job. It is a regretable reality, but it is reality. No matter what safety net we put in place, some will fall through. The goal should be to make sure that as few as possible fall through, but to paint the current legislation as the end all and be all of reform is disingenuous at best.
Furthermore, some people - especially in a nation of 300 million - simply do not want modern health care. I met people like this while campaigning last year. They are certainly in the minority, but I understand their choice. If we are serious about making sure that we are maximizing choice in health care, one of those choices must be the individual's right to refuse care and insurance. It seems that no one wants to address this concern, but I believe it goes to the heart of the matter - the protection of personal freedom.
The Speaker and the Majority Leader brag about the expansion of "choice" in insurance that the bills in Congress will offer. Here's a better idea: give us the ability to purchase health insurance and care across state lines. It's illegal to do so now, but if that prohibition were repealed think of the immediate benefits in terms of cost and competition. Rather than a mere 5.5 million potential customers in WI, insurance companies would have 300 million to try and win over. The risks would be able to be spread out over greater numbers and costs would decrease. Is that part of the reform plan? No. Competition in the minds of Democrats in Congress is competition directed by Washington in the "Health care exchange."
It doesn't increase competition when the competitors must be "approved" first by the government - which just so happens to be a competitor. Doesn't that sound a bit like an Iranian election to anyone else?
Speaker Pelosi's final claims of cost savings have been proven false several times now by the CBO. The mythical "preventive medicine" line is equally absurd. I'm certain that doctors will do everything they can to prevent a person from getting Type II Diabetes or heart disease or lung cancer, but they cannot force a person to eat healthy or exercise or quit smoking. We can incentivize the hell out of healthy habits, but if the warning of "if you don't do this you will die" doesn't work, I doubt a financial incentive will.
If we want to have a debate, fine. We're doing that now. It's the Speaker and the Majority Leader who have stifled debate by trying to ram through reform that will do nothing to control costs or improve quality. A thousand-plus page bill is not open or honest, but I guess I'm just stifling debate. Don't forget to let the White House know...