In a Friday piece of presidential protection prose promulgated by the Associated Press, writer Erica Werner correctly identified a number of significant “unfulfilled commitments” relating to proposed health care legislation, and then attempted to make excuses for why they didn’t happen.
Werner’s work was conveniently accompanied by a heavily downplaying headline — “Final health bill omits some of Obama’s promises” — while her rundown of the specifics in reality ended up being “all but two”:
It was a bold response to skyrocketing health insurance premiums. President Barack Obama would give federal authorities the power to block unreasonable rate hikes.
Yet when Democrats unveiled the final, incarnation of their health care bill this week, the proposal was nowhere to be found.
Ditto with several Republican ideas that Obama had said he wanted to include after a televised bipartisan summit last month, including a plan by Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma to send investigators disguised as patients to hospitals in search of waste, fraud and abuse.
And those “special deals” that Obama railed against and said he wanted to eliminate? With the exception of two of the most notorious – extra Medicaid money for Nebraska and a carve-out for Florida seniors faced with losing certain extra Medicare benefits – they are all still there.
For the White House, these were the latest unfulfilled commitments related to Obama’s health care proposal, starting with his campaign promise to let C-SPAN cameras film negotiations over the bill. Obama also backed down with little apparent regret on his support for a new government-run insurance plan as part of the legislation, a liberal priority.
But was it all the president’s doing?
In the cases of the insurance rate authority, the Republican ideas and the special deals, it came down to Obama making promises that Congress didn’t keep. He can propose whatever he wants, but it’s up to Congress to enshrine it into law.
Arguably, the president could have foreseen that outcome, and was making a low-risk p.r. move by floating proposals – dismissed by critics as insubstantial anyway – whose demise he couldn’t be blamed for.
While the White House worked hard to trumpet Obama’s plans for the rate authority, his embrace of bipartisanship and his opposition to special deals, the administration hardly advertised the lack of follow-through. Understandable, certainly, but perhaps not the new way of doing business that Obama promised to bring to Washington.
Werner also continued the wire service’s annoying habit of saving some of the more important news for the very end when she quotes a health policy consultant who says that “Democrats will have three years to tinker with health reform before universal coverage goes live.”
Geez, after 2,000-plus pages in heaven knows how many Senate and House iterations, with who knows how many new bureaucracies, taxes, mandates, fines, and penalties, we will have to endure another three years of “tinkering” until we know what we’re really going to face in 2014 if the current madness disguised as legislation “passes” this weekend (“passes” is in quotes because the constitutionality of attempt is extremely dubious)?
If so, this will mean that the length of the Wall Street Journal has called “the uncertainty economy” will bear quite a resemblance to how certain not-free countries used to run things, — i.e., five-year plans — while endless establishment press protection prose continues to proliferate.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.