September 11, 2009 7:23AM

Dalmia on Obamacare Speech

Reason Foundation’s Shikha Dalmia offers a colorful visual in her take on President Obama’s health care speech:

For several months now, the American people … have been standing athwart the Democratic agenda of socialized medicine, yelling, “Stop!” But President Barack Obama showed them the policy equivalent of the middle finger Wednesday night.

If there was anything bipartisan about the speech it was that he embraced every bad big‐​government idea from both sides…

Perhaps the most striking — and disturbing — thing about the speech was the unblinking confidence Obama exuded while breaking key campaign promises he made to voters. He had raked poor Hillary Clinton over the coals for admitting that her road to universal coverage was paved with an individual mandate. “Everyone would be forced to buy coverage, even if you can’t afford it,” warned Obama in an ad. “You pay a penalty if you don’t.”

Yet, there he was last night scolding “individuals who can afford coverage but game the system by avoiding responsibility”…

The one Republican idea that Obama did endorse — caps on medical malpractice awards or tort reform — will actually hurt rather than help patient choice. Big medicine has long blamed the unnecessary tests and procedures these awards encourage for rising health care costs. But several studies have shown that this so‐​called practice of defensive medicine is a smaller driver of costs than excess physician salaries. By capping these awards, Obama will leave patients even less recourse against physician negligence — hardly the American way.

Obama lambasted the critics who claim his reform plan amounts to a government takeover of the health care system. But the plan he laid out Wednesday night will control every aspect of the medical transaction. It will tell patients when, what and how much coverage they must buy; it will tell sellers when, what and how much coverage they must sell. This is not a government takeover of health care? Then Tony Soprano is just a decent, hard‐​working businessman.

You had me at “middle finger.”