Barack Obama has seen the present, and it doesn’t work.
In the present, we all go broke. In the present, our health care “premiums and out-of-pocket costs will continue to skyrocket.”
In the present, “if we don’t act, 14,000 Americans will continue to lose their health insurance every single day. These are the consequences of inaction. These are the stakes of the debate that we’re having right now.”
So said Obama Wednesday night in a news conference. And make no mistake, the present stinks because the past stank.
In the past, an (unidentified) Republican administration left Obama and the nation with a “$1.3 trillion annual deficit” as kind of an inheritance tax. And now Obama must deal with it.
How will he do this while at the same time providing 97 to 98 percent of the American people with state-of-the-art, affordable health care that they can never lose even if they lose their jobs or get sick?
He will do this by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in the health care system. He will do this by making health care more efficient.
That’s the future. The future is really going to be sweet. And we’re not even going to have to wait that long for it.
“We will pass reform that lowers cost, promotes choice and provides coverage that every American can count on,” Obama said. “And we will do it this year.”
Obama understands that upon hearing this, some of you may grow “anxious” or “skeptical” or “cynical.” He even understands that you might feel “queasy.”
Fight those feelings. And fight the impression that every president promises to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse and yet those things remain with us.
President Obama promises something else: He will soak the rich. Getting rid of waste, fraud and abuse will pay only for two-thirds of his health care plan. The remaining third will be paid for by limiting the “the itemized deductions for the wealthiest Americans.”
What about the “s” word? What about “sacrifice” for the rest of us? Happily, the future contains no such need.
“They will have to give up paying for things that don’t make them healthier,” Obama said. “If there is a blue pill and a red pill and the blue pill is half the price and works just as well right now, why not pay half price?”
Why not indeed? And so all we have to do is find a whole lot of blue pills.
But don’t worry, we will. And they won’t cost much. “We inherited an enormous deficit,” Obama said. But “health care reform will not add to the deficit; it is designed to lower it.”
And as it is designed, so it shall be. Because that is the way of Washington, isn’t it?
I admit that the promise of enormous benefits at little or no cost - - the deficit will actually shrink! - - makes me a little “anxious,” “skeptical,” “cynical” and “queasy.” Perhaps it makes you feel the same way.
But what choice do we have? The past is a mess. The present stinks. And the future?
Well, if there is one political promise you can believe, it is this one: Our future is ahead of us.