As we all know, the President made a passionate speech to a joint session of Congress yesterday which was televised to the American people, at times, yelling at them to stop bickering and pass the darned bill already. He then tried to de-bunk what he called the "myths" going around. "This bill will strengthen your insurance if you have insurance and offer insurance to you if you don't have insurance." "There are no death panels," he said, criticizing Sarah Palin's remark. Continuing, Obama said "of course there are some details to be ironed out..." a comment which got quite a laugh from the Congress persons in attendance, obviously surprising the president who apparently did NOT make that comment in jest.
And at one point, a Republican Congressman did the unbelievable. He interrupted the President, yelling "You're lying!"
He of course, apologized to the White House later, saying his conduct was inappropriate but this seemed to leave the media with the question of "was Obama lying?", a question never even asked about Bill Clinton who was known to spin a tale or two.
So this morning, the "Today Show" filmed a live interview with Vice President Biden and John McCain. First they talked to Biden and asked him "was the president lying?" Biden backed up the president but basically just reiterated what the president had said, as if he had, if not written the speech, then at least, was very familiar with it because he used basically the same words the president did.
Vice President Biden, when asked if the interrupting Congressman had represented some feelings among other Congress persons, emphatically said that he didn't believe it did, since John McCain and the rest distanced themselves from the remark. "I believe there is some real unity about this," said the VP, "and that we will have a bill before Thanksgiving."
But the shocker came when John McCain, specifically named by VP Biden, for being "in unity" with the President, was interviewed.
Matt Lauer asked McCain about several points in the President's speech - was he lying, Lauer wanted to know (this is interesting in itself because I have never remembered the media even THINKING that a president would be lying).
First about illegal immigrants... will they be covered in the present bill, asked Lauer. McCain answered, "Illegal immigrants are not covered," adding that it changes the number of uninsured in the USA from 47 million down to about 30 million.
Huh? You want to tell me that with all the bucks proposed to be spent, the govt getting into our health care etc, the bill will only insure 17 million more than are insured now?
But it gets better.
Matt Lauer asked if Palin's remark about "death panels" had any truth to it. John answered that the current bill does not establish death panels BUT added that a $500 billion dollar cut in Medicare spending is planned - he pointed out that in other countries when that large a cut in spending was done, rationing DID happen which could lead to the "death panels" so the concern of seniors was definitely appropriate.
Matt Lauer asked if the President was truthful about the three basics the bill established: ensure those who do not have insurance, provide stability to those who are insured i.e. guarantees that they can keep the insurance they already have and cuts costs.
McCain had aleady said that it does not provide health insurance for all - only 17 million of the 47 million uninsured. He now added that it did NOT cut costs -
"According to the Congressional budget office it's going to cost an additional TRILLION dollars - I have yet to see any REAL MEANINGFUL reductions in cost - in fact the Congressional Budget office said that there will be cost increases..."
He also pointed out that if your employer switches to the government option (which might be cheaper than their current insurance contracts), and you are getting insurance through your employer then you will NOT be able to keep your present insurance but will have to go on the government plan.
"The president keeps saying if you like your Health Insurance policy you can keep it - well if the govt option is adopted by an employer and you have employer provided insurance then you're not going to be able to keep it so that's false also. It's certainly not accurate."
It should be noted that 2 of my friends' employers have already said if they pass a government plan, they will switch.
So much for our choice in keeping our present insurance.
Will the Plan add to the deficit and will there be spending cuts, asked Matt Lauer.
McCain's answer was:
"We've now gone from a 7 trillion dollar deficit to a 9 trillion dollar deficit just in the last few weeks over a 10 year period. There is very little if anything in this package that calls for real spending reductions and a trillion dollars is basically what it's going to cost. And that's according to the Congressional budget office!"
John McCain added that pork barrel spending and earmarking continues despite the President's promise to curve this.
And is it true as VP Biden said, that there was cohesiveness on this bill or should we start from scratch, Lauer asked.
McCain said that it had NOT been, (as the President told the American people) a bipartisan effort at all and in fact, so far, NOT ONE Republican had been present at the negotiation sessions.
"Perhaps we should start over and really BE bipartisan. The president mentioned that it has gone through 4 of the 5 committees but it has done so, without a single Republican negotiator in the room! There has been NO bipartisanship in addressing the Health Care Issue! I've BEEN in bipartisan negotiations. I know what they are and it has been totally absent from the addressing of this issue. Maybe we ought to really sit down and negotiate which we haven't done. Facts are stubborn things."
McCain concluded that he hoped Congress WOULD have a bill soon because we needed reform and there were many areas of agreement, but that it should be a REAL bipartisan effort and it should NOT lay another trillion dollars to the deficit, the real brunt of which would be felt by the next generation.
Thanks to John McCain for having the courage to speak out on the "Today Show". He is an American hero who is admired on both sides of the fence and known to be a "Plain talker". But today, he became even more of a hero to me and perhaps many other Americans who want to hear the real story on this.