President Obama hosted a townhall meeting yesterday afternoon that seemed more scripted than some of the soap operas that his broadcast was competing with. Not surprisingly, the meeting was carefully choreographed--so much so that the President couldn't find a single person to disagree with him. Apparently his was the only townhall in the entire country where there wasn't at least one voter opposed to a government takeover of health care. Unlike the millions of concerned citizens packed into local gymnasiums and city halls, this event was replete with a select group of White House cheerleaders. Even the little girl, who famously asked why the other side is so "mean," turned out to be the child of an Obama donor, who is important enough to have already met the First Family and Vice President Joe Biden at a previous fundraiser. Coincidence? As Michelle Malkin pointed out, there are no coincidences in this administration. What was more amazing than all this premeditation is how the President accused groups like FRC of engaging in "wild misrepresentations" while engaging in a series of incredible distortions himself.
The whoppers he told ranged from fudging the plan's list of supporters to the details of the plan itself. At one point he told the crowd, "We have the AARP on board because they know this is a good deal for our seniors." That was news to the AARP, who disputed the endorsement immediately after the townhall concluded. Tom Nelson, AARP's chief operating officer, told reporters, "Indications that we have endorsed any of the major health care reform bills... are inaccurate." The President also claimed, "Under the reform we're proposing, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan." But an independent study commissioned by the Heritage Foundation actually found that 88.1 million people would be shifted out of their current employer-based plan.
As part of his pitch, the President also tried to compare his health care overhaul to the competition between FedEx and the U.S. Post Office. He said, "If you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? No, they are. It's the Post Office that's always having problems." It's a false comparison for several reasons, but mainly because the U.S. Postal System is heavily regulated and, as a result, it's weighed down by federal mandates - just as the President's health plan would place burdensome new regulations on private insurance companies. That's why his statement is so revealing about why a government takeover of health care is not the solution. The American people are outraged because they don't want health care delivered with the empathy of the IRS, the efficiency of FEMA or the mismanagement of the Post Office. The Post Office lost $ 2.8 billion last year while giving a $ 135,000 "performance bonus" to its top executive. And because the USPS is federally run and funded monopoly, it is unaccountable for its perpetual fiscal mess--just like Medicare. That's not the kind of change the American people are hoping for.
Of course, the President's biggest misrepresentation was his insistence that he doesn't back a single-payer system. "I have not said that I was a single-payer supporter," he told yesterday's audience. Maybe he hasn't said it as President, but last August, candidate Obama told an Albuquerque townhall, "If I were designing a system from scratch, I would probably go ahead with a single-payer system." The bottom line, Mr. President, is that if you portray yourself as an honest man, it helps if you keep your facts straight.