Monday, March 08, 2010

Wagging the Dog

"There's a crisis in the Whitehouse..." begins the trailer from the 1997 movie, Wag the Dog, "...and to save the election... you just gotta distract 'em..."

Durbin, D-Ill., said health insurance premiums could increase up to 60 percent in Illinois this year. Meanwhile, he said, insurance companies are experiencing some of their highest profits in history.

"The outrageous premium prices which they have been pushing on the American people in order to drive up their profited are unacceptable and unfair." Durbin said. "We're going to start watching them more closely ... The party's over."

-"Durbin blasts health insurance premiums," Chicago Tribune 8 Mar 2010
Sixty percent rise in insurance premiums that could happen? That would be a crisis, indeed! Never mind that people would drop that insurance carrier faster than a speeding bullet.

It seems people might be on to this tactic in Washington. From Peggy Noonan:
The president can't be a hope purveyor while he's a doom merchant, and he appears to believe he has to be a doom merchant to justify ramming through his legislation. This particular legislation is not worth that particular price.

All this contributes to a second problem, which is a growing credibility gap. In his speech Wednesday, demanding an "up or down" vote, the president seemed convinced and committed—but nothing he said sounded true. His bill will "bring down the cost of health care for millions," it is "fully paid for," it will lower the long term deficit by a trillion dollars.

Does anyone believe this? Does anyone who knows the ways of government, the compulsions of Congress, and how history has played out in the past, believe this? Even a little?
The facts on the cost of the current bill before Congress were nicely outlined by Congressman Paul Ryan in March's Wall Street Journal. What the White House administration is learning is that, like it or not, American's are sick of the scare tactics and are looking for real answers.

But then again, when it comes to the insurers, Dr. Rich nailed the Wag-the-Dog tactic earlier, didn't he?


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