This morning, President Obama had a press conference during which he discussed Syria, Benghazi, sequestration, immigration, and Obamacare, among other matters. Here are some of the highlights.
First, regarding sequestration, the President said he wants to close loopholes for the wealthy to compromise on sequestration. Apparently, he has forgotten about the $67 billion in loopholes he signed into law with the fiscal cliff deal, mostly benefiting the well-connected.
The President also said many times that sequestration is hurting our economy. There is no actual proof of this, and his repeating of the falsehood is harmful to the public debate.
He hammered the GOP for wanting to shift funds from White House tours, the FAA controller cuts, meat inspectors, etc. He would rather focus on tuition cuts for soldiers, and then take credit when Congress reverses the damage.
Of course, no Obama press conference is complete without bashing the Republican base. (This is the guy who says the GOP is not willing to compromise with him. Wonder why?) He said compromise with him “is somehow a betrayal,” but ignores how tax increases are not a compromise, nor are spending cuts. The latter are necessary, and the former are both harmful and counterproductive to a recovering economy.
Moving on to the Affordable Care Act, NBC’s Chuck Todd asked about Senator Baucus’ “train wreck” comments. The President said people are always nervous about “anything big,” but reassured that “even if they don’t know it,” the 85% to 90% of Americans with employer-based health coverage are being helped. (Hear that? You’re too “nervous” to know you’re being helped.)
He then criticized the individual insurance market for being too expensive, apparently ignorant of how government involvement in the tax code – the federal government has a World War II-era tax bias in favor of employer-based health insurance, among other factors – is a large part of the reason the individual insurance market is so expensive.
He also claimed the implementation problems are overdone, as they are problems for a small percentage of Americans – 10% to 15%. Yet at least one estimate shows costs for many of those 10% to 15% of Americans will skyrocket once Obamacare is fully implemented, and many businesses are expected to drop employee coverage.
Criticism of GOP governors holding strong against Obamacare were next. He said it was about politics, but he chose to ignore how these governors are merely looking at basic facts such as supply and demand when it comes to health care, as well as costs to states. The President also said Obamacare wouldn’t be perfect, as is the norm with government programs. Perhaps this is a reason to have less government involved with health care, since few imperfect laws are repealed or truly fixed.
Finally, he said it is ironic that the same conservative governors and legislators who want stronger state control over matters are ceding exchanges to the federal government…when the federal government does not want to do the exchanges.
Grace Marie Turner of the Galen Institute disagrees with President Obama, saying, “State-based exchange does not mean state-controlled exchange. The state health care exchanges would still be run by federal dollars with federal strings attached. In this case, the Obama administration wants the states to do the work, so they get the blame for implementing a law that the majority of Americans oppose when it collapses.”
On immigration, he said the Senate’s bill is not what he would have wanted, but it covers what he wants it to deal with – border security improvements, cracking down on employers “gaming the system,” and a “tough” pathway to citizenship that still allows the process to take place.
Senator Sessions’ (R-AL) office has shown these and other claims to be entirely false.