Obama: ‘There Are Countries Where a Single-Payer System Works Pretty Well’

June 17, 2009 - 4:54 AM
We now know Obama does not oppose socialized medicine in principle or on practical grounds. So on what grounds does he oppose it? Just one: rhetorical.
President Obama told the American Medical Association on Monday that he thinks single-payer health care systems—socialized medicine—work “pretty well” in other countries, but that he does not want to create such a system here because he wants to “build on our traditions.”
 
In fact, the predictable endgame of the health care plan Obama is trying to rush through Congress this summer is socialized medicine.
 
We now know Obama does not oppose socialized medicine in principle or on practical grounds. So on what grounds does he oppose it? Just one: rhetorical.
 
If Obama candidly said he is trying to put America on the path to government-run health care, it would excite exactly the sort of massive national grassroots opposition needed to kill his plan.
 
So what Obama is doing is paving a one-way street to a socialized medicine while expressly denying he is doing so—and while accusing those who point out what he is doing of being untruthful.
 
Some in the liberal press are helping Obama perpetrate this big lie.
 
The coverage of his AMA speech provides a stunning example specifically related to Obama’s declaration that single-payer health care systems have worked “pretty well.”
 
The full context of Obama’s remark is available from the official transcript posted on the White House Website. One paragraph of this transcript reads:
 
“Let me also say that—let me also address a illegitimate concern that’s being put forward by those who are claiming a public option is somehow a Trojan horse for a single-payer system. I’ll be honest, there are countries where a single-payer system works pretty well. But I believe—and I’ve taken some flak from members of my own party for this belief—that it’s important for our efforts to build on our traditions here in the United States. So when you hear the naysayers claim that I’m trying to bring about government-run health care, know this: They’re not telling the truth.”
 
On Tuesday afternoon, I ran a search of the Nexis “major newspapers” database to see if any major American newspaper had quoted Obama’s remark that “there are countries where a single-payer system works pretty well.” I searched the terms “Obama,” “single-payer” and “pretty well.” There was not a single hit.
 
Then I discovered, also using Nexis, that The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times had all artfully quoted words Obama said both immediately before and after he said single payer systems work “pretty well”—without actually quoting his statement about single-payer systems working “pretty well.”
 
The Washington Post reported it this way: “In his speech, Obama said, ‘Let me also address an illegitimate concern that’s being put forward by those who are claiming that a public option is somehow a Trojan horse for a single-payer system. … When you hear the naysayers claim that I’m trying to bring about government-run health care, know this: They’re not telling the truth.”
 
The Post artfully replaced Obama’s statement that “I’ll be honest, there are countries where a single-payer system works pretty well” with three dots.
 
The New York Times reported it this way: “’The public option is not your enemy,’ Mr. Obama said. ‘It is your friend, I believe.’ Saying it would ‘keep insurance companies honest,’ the president dismissed as ‘illegitimate’ the claims of critics that a public insurance option amounts to ‘Trojan horse for a single-payer system’ run by the government.”
 
Artfully using broken phrases, the Times was able to report Obama’s attack on his critics while avoiding his statement that single-payer systems work “pretty well.”
 
It was the Los Angeles Times, however, that struck upon the cleverest tactic. It reported what Obama said this way:
 
“’Let me also address an illegitimate concern that’s being put forward by those who are claiming that a public option is somehow a Trojan horse for a single-payer system,’ Obama said. ‘But I believe, and I’ve taken some flak from members of my own party for this belief, that it’s important for our reform efforts to build on our traditions here in the United States.”
 
Just as Obama was about to say he believes single-payer systems work “pretty well,” the Times broke off the quote and inserted the words “Obama said.” It then resumed the quote with the words “but I believe,” which come after Obama said he believes single-payer systems work “pretty well.”
 
The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times are not part of an adversarial press asking tough questions of a president trying to radically reorganize the health care system. They are his accomplices.
 
In his AMA speech, Obama again said he supports creating a “public option” government-run health insurance company and mandating that every American buy health insurance. The only thing he isn’t calling for now is mandating that everyone buy their mandatory insurance from the government company.
 
Once the “public option” is in place, slight changes in regulations and taxes can make it the only option. When that happens, don’t expect to see it reported plainly in a major paper.