May 19, 2009 | Commentary on Health Care, Energy and Environment

Fairy Tale Health Care

As children we loved to hear our parents read fairy tales with happy endings. Well, last week President Obama and Washington lobbyists penned a new chapter in the health care fairy tale.

Obama met with leaders of the health care industry, who promised a dramatic $2 trillion in health care savings over the next decade, intended to reduce a typical family's annual health care expenses by $2,500. They pledged to reduce the annual growth in health care costs by 1.5 percentage points. How? By coordinating care and streamlining costs.

This was deemed a "watershed event." Actually, it was a photo op with lofty promises and little substance. Yet conservatives worry that this fairy tale might be used to justify liberals' plan for a Washington takeover of the health care system.

Policy observers decried the promised cuts largely as a political stunt designed to give the illusion that the health care industry is coalescing around comprehensive reform.

The president has enthusiastically promoted the fantasy that you can secure massive savings with minor reforms to the delivery system. Conspicuously absent was any serious discussion of entitlement reform or changes in the inefficient and costly tax treatment of health insurance.

So before the public naively dozes off into a world of make believe, it's important to recognize the stunning absence of any measurable details to back up these fantastic claims.

Lawmakers will have the opportunity in the coming months to have a serious conversation about health reform that will likely lead to legislative action. But it's going to take more than a presidential kiss to turn this frog into a prince.

IMF Bailout

President Obama has sent a $100 billion funding request to Congress for the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He would like this request lumped in with the war supplemental, even though the request has nothing to do with the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The supplemental has a Senate price tag of $91.5 billion including IMF monies, because Congress has scored the $100 billion in loans to the IMF as $5 billion in risk to the taxpayer. The Obama administration has followed a bad precedent set by the Bush administration and Congress by allowing measures not directly related to the Global War on Terror to be included in supplemental appropriations measures.

CEObama Strikes Again

The Obama administration is working on a plan to change compensation practices across the financial services industry. This change isn't limited to bailed out banks, and many conservatives are worried that we are well down the road to a de facto nationalization of the whole financial services industry.

If the president becomes CEO of these institutions, the free market will be chucked aside. As a nation, we'll be sucking the last vestiges of capitalism from bailed-out and government-managed banks and other financial institutions. The bailouts must end. And bureaucrats at the Department of Treasury have no business managing the pay of executives in any company.

Climate Bill Markup

One of President Obama's major initiatives, reducing carbon dioxide emissions with a national energy tax, will see action in the House Energy and Commerce Committee this week.Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has spent weeks trying to convince a band of moderate Democrats that the bill won't really harm their constituents or the economy.

A Heritage Foundation analysis of Waxman's bill found that in 2012, rather than enjoying a broad economic recovery, our economy will lose up to 1.9 million more jobs under the Waxman plan. Over the next couple of decades, the price of electricity will almost double and the average family will spend an additional $1,500 on energy costs per year. Concerned policymakers and Americans shouldn't take comfort in any "compromise" that makes minor changes to a plan that would devastate the American economy, hurt future generations and make the U.S. less prosperous.

Terrorists in the U.S.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has pledged to bar terrorists in Guantanamo Bay from entering the U.S. as part of the war supplemental. Let's hope this isn't being done cynically to protect the president from breaking his campaign promise to close down Gitmo. If Congress blocks the president from closing Gitmo, then he'll have an excuse to break yet another campaign promise.

Brian Darling is director of U.S. Senate Relations at The Heritage Foundation

About the Author

Brian Darling Senior Fellow for Government Studies
Government Studies

First Appeared in Human Events