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  • Morning Bell: Deck the Halls With Odes to Socialized Medicine

    If you are anything like us at The Heritage Foundation, the last two weeks of December are a time for visiting friends and family, securing last minute Christmas gifts, and planning your Christmas and New Year’s menus. But President-elect Barack Obama wants to add another item to your to-do list.

    Remember how Michelle Obama said her husband “will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual.” Well, she meant it. While the vast majority of Americans are busy celebrating the holidays, the Obama’s transition office is urging Americans to participate in more than 4,200 health care community discussions nationwide until Dec. 31. Tom Daschle, secretary-designate for Health and Human Services, is slated to attend at least one of these focus groups and will issue a report, complete with video, to Obama.

    Heritage agrees that our nation’s health care system is in need of major reform. The current employer-based system did not come about as the result of a consensus vision or conscious legislation, but is actually a relic of World War II era wage and price controls. Since that time, structural weaknesses of traditional employer-sponsored health insurance have led to a steady erosion of coverage, especially for workers in the small business sector. We also share Obama’s vision for an open and transparent debate over what direction health care reform should take. Unfortunately, a close examination of the Obama’s moderator and participant guides reveal that these “health care community discussions” are little more than a cynical ploy to add a participatory varnish to a carefully choreographed plan to remake the nation’s $2 trillion health care as quickly as possible.

    The moderator’s guide instructs hosts, “you should not strongly advocate for specific health policy positions,” but it also only encourages hosts to invite like-minded Obama supporters. There is no effort to seek out dissenting opinions. The moderator’s guide also betrays the true purpose of these forums: in five separate places, moderators are instructed to “identify particularly poignant stories about health care from participants that can be used to help emphasize the need for health care reform in our country.” In other words, the purpose of these meetings is not to gather policy ideas, but to help Obama identify the most compelling vignettes he can exploit to push his established policy prescription.

    The participant’s guide is even worse. It features an “Overview of the Problem” filled with false and sensationalist statistics like “large medical bills have contributed to half of bankruptcies.” It then outlines “The President-Elect’s Health Care Plan,” but no views on health care reform are included other than the official Obama dogma. This is not the way to have an honest debate about health care reform.

    There is serious doubt as to whether the Obama administration even wants debate. The Associated Press reports:

    President-elect Barack Obama and his aides are determined not to repeat the mistakes the Clinton administration made 15 years ago in trying to revamp the nation’s health care system. Some of the lessons learned: Move fast, seize the momentum and don’t let it go. …

    Daschle maintains the efforts to bring about universal health coverage in the first two years of the Clinton presidency took too long. …

    ‘We need to be on the offense,’ Daschle said. …

    This time around, lawmakers can’t try to address every detail when it comes to legislation. ‘Details kill,’ Daschle said. ‘If we get too far into the weeds, if we produce a 1,500- or 1,600-page bill, we’re going to get hung up on all the details and we’re never going to get to the principles.’

    We strongly disagree. As the morphing of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) into an auto bailout slush fund demonstrates, details matter. We urge the Obama administration to have a longer period of discussion in 2009, and get input from all corners. The Heritage Foundation is very eager to have a real dialogue about health care reform. What is being perpetrated on the American people right now is not the transparent form of democracy that Obama promised.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    35 Responses to Morning Bell: Deck the Halls With Odes to Socialized Medicine

    1. Michael J O'Bri says:

      Merry Christmas to all, let our freedoms continue to be the cornerstone of our strength, our voices heard, and our elected officials responsible.

    2. Dennis Aderholt Soci says:

      The dems are still at it, do not tell to much only the part that sounds good. Make it all look like the republicans fault, we do not need socialized medicine. Much to the dems regret the people need to know all that is involved, and then we need all the facts, not part of them. GOD HELP US, WE HAVE FOUR YEARS OF THIS BS TO PUT UP WITH. Oh well some people may wake up in the next two years, we do have another vote then.

    3. Ken says:

      The one thing democrates do well is take a talking point, simplify it to the smallest common denominator and sell it without telling you what you are voting for. We must do the same and incremental pinpoint each item and educate the avg. Joe exactly what he will get. Right now the democrats win with the simple phrase, "We need national healthcare." That is beyond acceptable. We must make clear that the avg. "middle class" American will be devastated by this plan, if it's anything like the Clinton plan of the '90s. Hope I made this point. Ex. "If paying for someone else's healthcare, will this compromise when I can see a specialist." We need to make Americans think!!!!

    4. karen says:

      Operating in the dark, usually reminds one of a back-room abortion. Is that what Daschle is going


    5. Melissa, Orlando, FL says:

      I read the morning bell every day, but today's article about community health care discussions was a little troubling.

      It states…"The moderator's guide instructs hosts, "you should not strongly advocate for specific health policy positions," but it also only encourages hosts to invite like-minded Obama supporters."

      I looked at the moderator's guide and nowhere did it say…"invite like-minded Obama supporters."

      While I am a conservative and enjoy and appreciate the information contained in the Morning Bell, the author is stating his opinions as though they were facts. This will only take away from the legitimacy of his/her commentary.

    6. two,waterford,mi. says:

      Plaese, I could not find your plan in this. could you point it out to me sir.

    7. LVKen7@Gmail.com - says:

      What do you tell a 55 year old woman

      that NEEDS a breast exam

      and CAN'T AFFORD IT?

      What do you tell a 40 year old Male


      and CAN'T AFFORD IT?


    8. Lee Kenaga, Dearborn says:

      I want to state my opposition to any government-run health monopoly, they can't even agree on any-

      thing in Congress but to disagree. Gov't can't do

      anything as efficiently as the private sector. A

      "commubity organizer" on the south side of corrupt

      Chicage doesn't qualify Obama to run a soup kitch-


    9. Mark Wright, Wolfe C says:

      And so it begins. President elect Obama said he will bankrupt the current energy producers … I guess this is just the beginning. I thought Colorado would be smarter than that.

      It is very dumb and dangerous to kill your exsisting energy programs without a viable alternative in place.

    10. Conn Carroll Conn Carroll says:

      Dear Melissa- No the guide does not explicitly say "invite like-minded Obama supporters." That is why I did not put that sentence in quotes. The guide does say to invite "friends, colleagues, and neighbors" and it only stands to reason that hosts would only invite like minded souls. Don't believe me? Check out this article in The New York Times on an actual 'Health Care Community Discussion'

    11. Conn Carroll Conn Carroll says:

      Dear Two – I did include a link to testimony from Heritage's Stuart Butler, but I can see how anyone could easily miss it:

      Please do check out some of our other more specific papers here:

    12. Steve-Oklahoma says:

      Pharmaceutical coumpanies', own and run the medical industry. This is the root cause, good and bad of the medical industry. Question: Where do the employees in the U.S. Government for this industry come from?

    13. Marsha, Madison, Wis says:

      Yes, bring your neighbors, friends and relatives to the gathering. Not all will agree with your views. At least Obama lets everyone attend, not just those who agree with his point of view, unlike Bush.

    14. Ric Davidge, Alaska says:

      I have watched for over 4 decades as federal, state, municipal, and private groups have attacked the drug and alcholoh abuse issue.

      Yes, billions of dollars, but NO ONE ADDRESSED THE REAL PROBLEM

      I suggest the drug and alcohol abuse is more a symptom then a cause.

      Until we address the cause of these unfortunate choices, we will continue to treat the symptoms and not the basic causes of this national problem.

      But then liberals almost would almost always attack a symptom then a cause, it increases long term dependence.

      former subcabinet, Reagan Admin.

    15. Marnie Tunay, Canada says:

      This morning's "Deck the Halls with Odes to Socialized Medicine" claims that "The moderator's guide instructs hosts, "you should not strongly advocate for specific health policy positions," but it also only encourages hosts to invite like-minded Obama supporters. There is no effort to seek out dissenting opinions." In fact, the moderator's guide says nothing like that at all. It suggests that ads for attendees may be placed in [local retail outlets] and emphasizes in several places that every attendee must be listened to respectfully.

      I am not amused.

      This is my first intro to the Morning Bell; and if false statements are a hall-mark of it, then I intend to eviscerate its credibility.

      Marnie Tunay

    16. Gail Engelhardt, Car says:

      Maybe Obama and his Transition Team have nothing better to do over the Christmas Holiday and New Year's celebration, but most people do and won't have time for their debates or meetings on health care.

      As a semi-retired, 63 year old woman who pays for her own health care coverage out of a limited income, I say "don't mess with my healthcare coverage". It is just fine the way it is and suits my needs.

      I don't believe in socialized health coverage or socialized medicine. It won't work and never has where it has been tried. Ask anyone living in any Country that has it, and they will tell you it takes forever for medical care approvals and even for doctor appointments. A person could die in the meantime. Lot of good their socialized medical coverage does them then.

      Gail E.

      Cartersville, GA

    17. Doris Morgan, Oklaho says:

      I had a great union negotiated health plan; then

      the battered and beaten Medicare plan set into my life. It's nothing like my parents had and a majority of physicians will not serve it (and I don't even blame them). I feel like a bag lady

      asking for a handout. Add that to the drugs from China and the unGodly prices and you have me with a very short and miserable life to look forward to.

      I watched Tom Delay threaten members of his own party to vote this pro-drug companies proposition into law; pure larceny….obviously designed to

      break Medicare altogether. I hope he's stuck with it in his future.

      Close to half of the bankruptcies I've seen here

      are indeed due to healthcare charges….so I do

      believe that part. Let's restore Medicare to it's previous state….Mom and Dad made it into their mid eighties comfortably. I won't!!!

    18. Ireland, NYC says:

      The pros for having government healthcare program are free medical services would encourage patients to practice preventive medicine more frequently and inquire about problems earlier when treatment will be light and less expensive; currently, patients often avoid physicals and other preventive measures because of the costs. Healthcare has become more and more expensive and hinders small businesses and corporation to provide healthcare for their employees and this could help those businesses and employees.

      The cons are there isn't a single government agency or division that runs efficiently; do we really want an organization that developed the U.S. Tax Code handling something as complex as health care? Quick, try to think of one government office that runs efficiently. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? The Department of Transportation? Social Security Administration? Department of Education? There isn't a single government office that squeezes efficiency out of every dollar the way the private sector can.

      Like social security, any government benefit eventually is taken as a "right" by the public, meaning that it's politically near impossible to remove or curtail it later on when costs get out of control. Social security was originally put in place to help seniors live the last few years of their lives; however, the retirement age of 65 was set when average life spans were dramatically shorter. Now that people are regular living into their 90s or longer, costs are skyrocketing out of control, making the program unsustainable. The government never counted on the increase left span.

      Despite the fact that all politicians know the system is heading for bankruptcy in a couple decades, no one is rushing to fix it. When President Bush tried to re-structure it with private accounts, the Democrats ran a scare campaign about Bush's intention to "take away your social security". Even though he promised no change in benefits, the fact that he was proposing change at all was enough to kill the effort, despite the fact that Democrats offered zero alternative plans to fix it.

      The same pattern is true with virtually all government spending programs. Do you think politicians will ever be able to cut education spending or unemployment insurance? Only if they have a political death wish. In time, the same would be true of universal health care spending. As costs skyrocket because of government inefficiency and an aging population, politicians will never be able to re-structure the system, remove benefits, or put private practice options back in the system….that is, unless they want to give up hope of re-election. With record debt levels already in place, we can't afford to put in another "untouchable" spending program, especially one with the capacity to easily pass defense and social security in cost.

      When you're dealing with any business, for example a privately-funded hospital, if an employee negligently causes an injury, the employer is ultimately liable in a lawsuit. If government funds all health care, that would mean the U.S. government, an organization with enormous amounts of cash at its disposal, would be ultimately responsible for the mistakes of health care workers. The costs of malpractice lawsuits will increase to high levels. Malpractice insurance for all doctors is fairly high now, patients’ knowing the government has a open check book, will only increase further lawsuits, doctors insurance will rise to astronomical levels, which will force hospitals and doctors to increase their rates.

      Whether or not a doctor has made a mistake, he or she is always a target for frivolous lawsuits by money-hungry lawyers & clients that smell deep pockets. Even if the health care quality is the same as in a government-funded system, the level of lawsuits is likely to increase simply because attorneys know the government has the money to make settlements and massive payouts. Try to imagine potential punitive damages alone. When the government has the ability to spend several trillion dollars per year, how much will a jury be willing to give a wronged individual who is feeble?

    19. Mary, Wisconsin. USA says:

      For those who have so little, it must be overwhelming that the government gives bail outs to people with so much!

      Merry Christmas and May the troops over seas be safe, do what has to be done and hurry home.

    20. david richfield says:

      health care needs reform.


      What works?

      Certainly not the private rape of the human health care consumer in the US, since Nixon and Reboza saw the money to be made.

      It's failed.

      Reagonomics has failed, and Nixon private for profit health care HAS FAILED.

      If your solutions involve further privatization, and it's the government's fault,…

      You are wrong.

      The VA works, if properly funded.

      Just don't Grover Norquist it in the tub, and then crow about how pathetic it is.

      (Like Bush has done his best to drown every other agency of protection for the US people)

      The VA is socialized medicine.

      It works.

      2.5% overhead, versus 25% in private insurance and HMO.

      1000% more administrative overhead for private greed.

      Probably over a third of the whole budget goes into marketing and lobbying.

      (Forget your research argument.

      It's paid for by the taxpayers, via Universities and federal money, and then the patents are delivered to private pharma.)

      Private for profit "health care" employs full time staffs that do NOTHING but disqualify claims.

      You don't get covered, because….(then they make something up).

      "Free market " pharma spends billions in washington make sure that our American seniors can't buy their prescriptions on the free market.

      It's called medicare part d.

      It forces all of us to buy only from them.

      A corrupt government guaranteed monopoly, and the antithesis of the "free market".

      So stop talking about the "free market".

      It doesn't exist.

      What's left for the actual person in need of health care? not much.

      47 million Americans

      1) are not covered

      2) will be paid for in the emergency wards at an alarming increase to the American taxpayer.

      How much does THAT cost?

      Why does single payer socialized health care

      1) work in every other developed nation, but not here?

      2)cost two to three times more here, for pretty much the same service?

      the answer is, the insurance lobby, the pharma lobby.

      Pay a hundred million in washington to buy favorable policy, and make a billion.

      And give millions back to the re-election campaigns of those who were "preferential."




      The laws need to change.

      these are crimes against those who need health care.

      Medicare works, if properly funded, and is very popular.

      It's also socialized medicine.

      Social Security also works. It's a social program, brought to you by democrats.

      people who care.

      even about you.

      And, is completely solvent for many generations to come if only those who make more than $97,000 per year are required to pay an accurate percentage for their use of the system.

      (Because they are using it at a rate FAR greater than $97,000 per year.


      They employ many, even if they are just "investing" they are using the work force, across the board.

      this work force needs health care.)

      Face it, if you are making 1 million, 10 million, 100 million, a billion dollars a year, to Social Security you are paying on the first $97,000 only.


      all the talk about how social security needs to be privatized because its not solvent.


      All the jabs about how government is the problem.


      None of you would even be here now without some crazy liberal like me including you in your own commons, which you deny and would like to be released from?

      This social safety net, the common roads, PO, Police, fire, Army , Navy, Air Force, Marines, courts, schools.

      All social programs.

      To which you and I are inexorably indebted.

      And you continue to act like you have pulled yourselves up by your own bootstraps.


      Seems you have collaborators to whom you don't give any credit.


    21. William Rickard says:

      Obama promised transparency and change we can use… It doesn,t seem as though he is interested in pushing what he wants on the American people and adding more to the already over burdening entitlement programs that are helping to cripple free enterprise. Do not share the wealth. Share opportunity. Government needs to be reduced in size not enlarged.

    22. Edwin Buck, Albuquer says:

      We can complain and moan and groan about what's to happen next, but, unfortunately, elections have their consequences. For one reason or another, or, maybe no reason at all, we are stuck with St Barack for the next 4 years and with a very liberal congress for the next 2 years. The thing to do now is how do we get back our advantage in the next 2 years? I, for one, do not want to go back to the spendthrift "republican" majority, we had in the last 8 years. We need a conservative congress, not necessarily, a republican congress. I am very wary of electing a "rino" republican, I don't care what kind of clothing he or she wears in order to get elected.

    23. LVKen7@Gmail.com - says:

      I started a Google Doc

      as a place to use to Discuss HF posting, and the COMMENTS that result from those postings.

      THIS document is publicly viewable at:

      Frequently, I read in Letters to the Editor

      or Callers to CSpan

      that I want MORE info from them,

      but I have NO idea where to go to FIND THEM.

      Hopefully, THIS File will be such a place.

      So, PLEASE, Join in.

    24. Pingback: Deck the Halls With Odes to Socialized Medicine « Conservative Thoughts and Profundity

    25. Pingback: Liberal Media in Tank for Obama’s Socialized Medicine « Conservative Thoughts and Profundity

    26. Pingback: Room Full of Obama Lovers Love Obama’s Health Care Plan « Conservative Thoughts and Profundity

    27. Pingback: Obama’s Phony Health Care Facts « Conservative Thoughts and Profundity

    28. Pingback: Scrooge Daschle Ruins Christmas With Plot to Socialize Medicine - Bluey’s blog - RedState

    29. Pingback: ChooseTheHero.com » Blog Archive » Scrooge Daschle Ruins Christmas With Plot to Socialize Medicine

    30. Barry E Lerner, Rye says:

      So Heritage is bravely sending memos and exposing the big O for the dictator that he is. Lots o' luck.

      At the end of the Constitutional Convention, when asked what kind of government had been fashioned, Ben Franklin is said to have replied, "A republic, sir, if you can keep it." And Thomas Jefferson is reported to have said that another revolution would be necessary from time to time.

      Perhaps the time has come.

    31. Frank Zanella, Brews says:

      We must fine tune the medicare system to ensure coverage to all legal American citizens, cut the waste, and add medical deductions to our tax system again without the 7.5% gimmick. Interesting that no one, including the democrats, want to discuss the tax deduction process when medical costs exceed even mortgage interest costs today. Let's go forward with positive steps to correct a system that works and not re-create the wheel, again. Frankz

    32. Duke Lynch CA says:

      Why do we need insurance for health care? Isn't it another cost imposition between Doctor and patient?

    33. Bart Ingles, Califor says:

      The place to start is a federal tax credit worth 20 or 25 percent of the premium cost for qualifying health insurance. To qualify, the coverage must be a group plan or substantially similar to a group plan, in that it must accept at group rates anyone who has maintained continuous coverage with another plan, just as employer-sponsored plans do now. If a given plan is not employer-sponsored, then the risk pool must include entire state in which the insured resides, except that age-banding should be allowed, as well as segmentation by sex and zip code.

      The size of the tax credit should be modest– just enough to give a healthy individual incentive to choose a qualifying plan over a non-qualifying but less-expensive individual plan.

      The present tax incentive using an employer tax exclusion is worse than nothing, in that it gives a new employee incentive to drop private coverage in favor of the tax-favored company plan.

      The problem is that when employment ends, the employee may not be able to qualify for individual coverage. Or if he does take short-term individual coverage in hopes of finding another job, he loses continuous-coverage status as applied to group plans. In other words, the tax exclusion is actually a cause of non-insurance for people between jobs, that and the firewall between group and non-group insurance.

      I don't favor more invasive federal government intervention until they can demonstrate competence by cleaning up the mess they are already creating via the tax code. I'm not holding my breath.

    34. Barb -mn says:

      The problem is the unwillingness of government elects to GRASP REALITY! get the government out. and keep them out.

    35. Hector, Georgia says:

      Kinda confused here, if Socialized Medicine has not worked in other countries, what makes us think that it will work here.

      Does this ring a bell, "if you don't learn from history you're destined to reapet it"?

      Let's face it, government doesn't do ANYTHING well. It can barely educate our children and well want these clowns in Washington to decided what is best for us?

      Come on America, WAKE UP!

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