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The president's health care pitch

By Peter Morici
web posted July 27, 2009

On health care and other critical issues, President Obama continues to purposefully confuse the debate. He presents choices as either his way or the failed ways of the past -- no other solutions are possible. That is silly.

He frames pending votes in Congress on health care as a choice between his program and the status quo and catastrophe. To listen to Mr. Obama's rhetoric, no other solutions are possible if the Congress denies him his program now. That is folly.

Liberals do not have a monopoly on wisdom, the moral high ground or workable solutions; however, more pragmatic and less ideological views are not given much voice or hearing in the Obama Administration.

Many of the economic issues President wants to address require radical changes from past policies but his solutions are too anchored in dreamy academic theories and liberal ideology, as opposed to realistic assessments of what is broke, the obstacles to progress, and a clear and honest acknowledgement of the powerful interests that would have to be upset. Consider for example, tort reform and health care costs.

President Obama appears not to accept the most basic truth of statecraft -- we must address the world as they find it, not as we think it should be.

In defense of the President, he is badly advised and his allies in the House appear too anchored in a 1970s liberal thinking. To both groups, all too much of what is wrong can be fixed with more money harvested by taxing the richest five, or three or one percent. No one else need sacrifice much.

If Lawrence Summers and Timothy Geithner are the second coming of the best and the brightest, then America’s universities have been dumbed down much more that their critics claim.

If President Obama continues to rely on solutions crafted by Nancy Pelosi’s allies in the House, either Americans, with their centrist inclinations, will deliver Mr. Obama a stunning string of defeats, or they will suffer buyers’ remorse in an economy that grows too slowly and is saddled with double digit unemployment.

The president fails, and we all fail with him. ESR

Peter Morici is a professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland School, and the former Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission.


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