Lowry: The health care speech Obama didn't give
It's now a matter of bipartisan consensus that President Barack Obama should have been more honest and forthright in selling his health-care plan. Here is the transcript of the speech he never gave:
Hello, St. Paul! It is so good to be back in the great state of Minnesota. Go Gophers! (We love you!) I love you back! (Stomping, cheers.)
I don't know if you've noticed, but I've been talking about health-care reform a little lately. (Laughter.) I want to set the record straight on a few things today.
Republicans are out there scaring folks, and saying that they'll lose their insurance. (Boos, jeers.) No, no hey, just because they don't care about people doesn't mean they are wrong about everything. (Laughter, applause.) And they're right about this. Some folks are going to lose their insurance. Millions of them, in fact.
Let me be clear: Just because you have insurance you like, doesn't mean you can keep it. If it doesn't meet the new federal standards, your plan is going to get canceled. I guarantee it.
Some of my political advisers say, "Hey, you can't go out and tell people that, Obama. It doesn't test well. People hate it in the polls."
And you know what I told them? "I ... don't ... care ... about ... the polls." (Applause)
I said: "That's the old politics. That's what wrong with Washington, D.C., right there. If you think I'm going to go out and lie about my plan, you've got the wrong guy. What did you think hope and change were all about?" (Laughter, applause.)
So, yeah, some of you are going to lose your insurance. Now, because of the marketplace we'll set up, you're going to go online and shop for new insurance. Some of you are going to get a better deal. If you don't make much money, you're going to get help from the government. (Cheers.)
But let me be clear again and Axelrod hates this part (Laughter) many of you are going to pay more than you did before. Maybe double. Because all of these new regulations cost money. You don't believe in a free lunch, do you? (Confused murmurs.)
What we're proposing is to get young, healthy people onto the exchanges so they can subsidize everyone else, by buying coverage they don't want or need at a price that is higher than before. Why would they do that, you ask? (Faint laughter.) That's what the individual mandate is all about. We've got to force them.
As for the doctor you like, you might not be able to keep him or her, either. (Murmurs.) If you have to change your plan, your doctor may not be in the network. And to try to keep costs down, the networks in the exchanges are really narrow. By the way, top hospitals probably aren't going to accept a lot of plans from the exchanges, either.
Some of my friends on my side of the aisle try to minimize all this. They say that the bill has a grandfather clause. Wait until you see the regulations we write on that one there will barely be a grandfather clause left. They say that only the 5 percent of people who get their insurance through the individual market will lose their plans. But that's still millions of people.
Now, I can hear some of you right now saying that universal coverage is worth it. (Yeah.) But let's be careful about that. The respected Congressional Budget Office says under my plan tens of millions of people will still be uninsured in 2020.
So that's why I wanted to come here today, St. Paul. I wanted to tell you the hard truths. I know you can handle them. (Isolated clapping.) I know you will still support my plan, which, admittedly, is a little complicated. But we put a man on the moon! There's no way we're going to mess up a health-care law. Not on my watch.
Thank you, St. Paul.
Rich Lowry can be reached via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.