Commentary Magazine


Topic: inevitable product

Bad Salesman, Rotten Product

Mickey Kaus, who has been rooting for ObamaCare to pass, writes:

Lots of intellectual effort now seems to be going into explaining Obama’s (possible/likely/impending) health care failure as the inevitable product of larger historic and constitutional forces. There’s something to this of course–the Framers went overboard in making it hard for the government to act, for example. But in this case there’s a simpler explanation:  Barack Obama’s job was to sell a health care reform plan to American voters. He failed. He didn’t fail because 55% of Americans can never be convinced of anything. Happens all the time. He just failed. He tried to sell expanding coverage as a deficit reducer. Voters didn’t believe him and worried that they would pay the bill in some unadvertised way (through Medicare reductions or future tax increases, mainly). That’s not constitutional paralysis or Web-enabled mob rule. It’s just bad salesmanship.

There really is a lot to that. Kaus, unlike those still snared in the Obama thrall, isn’t afraid to come out and say just how horribly inept Obama has been in persuading Americans of the merits of the bill. There were the lame press conferences (the red-pill/blue-pill inanity was a classic), the redundant speeches, and the media stunts (recall ABC flacking for ObamaCare for a day at the White House?) Part of the reason he was so bad at selling his bill is that he was unwilling to recognize the real concerns of critics and hence to address them head on. He never explained how he was going to cut Medicare by $500B while not impacting care. He didn’t offer a rationale for why young, healthy twenty-and-thirty-something year-old Americans couldn’t be allowed to have low cost, high deductible insurance plans but instead should be forced to purchase really expensive, ObamaCare-approved ones.

Now if Obama did not adequately rebut the criticisms of the bill because there weren’t good answers to the critics’ charges, well, that goes beyond salesmanship to the product’s defectiveness. Couldn’t it have been that voters stubbornly resisted a large tax-and-spend plan that was going to disrupt a flawed, but basically satisfactory system for the vast majority of voters who already have insurance? It seems as though Obama wasn’t all that candid about what was in the bill and what it was going to do because at some level the bill’s proponents understood just how unpopular much of  it was.

In short, it’s like saying the problem with the stimulus bill was that Obama didn’t sell it well enough. No, the problem with the stimulus bill is that it was a bust and no amount of salesmanship was going to convince the voters otherwise. The difference with ObamaCare is that widespread revulsion, Scott Brown’s election, and belated cold feet by Democrats prevented (so far) the bad bill from being passed. And for that we can be thankful.

Mickey Kaus, who has been rooting for ObamaCare to pass, writes:

Lots of intellectual effort now seems to be going into explaining Obama’s (possible/likely/impending) health care failure as the inevitable product of larger historic and constitutional forces. There’s something to this of course–the Framers went overboard in making it hard for the government to act, for example. But in this case there’s a simpler explanation:  Barack Obama’s job was to sell a health care reform plan to American voters. He failed. He didn’t fail because 55% of Americans can never be convinced of anything. Happens all the time. He just failed. He tried to sell expanding coverage as a deficit reducer. Voters didn’t believe him and worried that they would pay the bill in some unadvertised way (through Medicare reductions or future tax increases, mainly). That’s not constitutional paralysis or Web-enabled mob rule. It’s just bad salesmanship.

There really is a lot to that. Kaus, unlike those still snared in the Obama thrall, isn’t afraid to come out and say just how horribly inept Obama has been in persuading Americans of the merits of the bill. There were the lame press conferences (the red-pill/blue-pill inanity was a classic), the redundant speeches, and the media stunts (recall ABC flacking for ObamaCare for a day at the White House?) Part of the reason he was so bad at selling his bill is that he was unwilling to recognize the real concerns of critics and hence to address them head on. He never explained how he was going to cut Medicare by $500B while not impacting care. He didn’t offer a rationale for why young, healthy twenty-and-thirty-something year-old Americans couldn’t be allowed to have low cost, high deductible insurance plans but instead should be forced to purchase really expensive, ObamaCare-approved ones.

Now if Obama did not adequately rebut the criticisms of the bill because there weren’t good answers to the critics’ charges, well, that goes beyond salesmanship to the product’s defectiveness. Couldn’t it have been that voters stubbornly resisted a large tax-and-spend plan that was going to disrupt a flawed, but basically satisfactory system for the vast majority of voters who already have insurance? It seems as though Obama wasn’t all that candid about what was in the bill and what it was going to do because at some level the bill’s proponents understood just how unpopular much of  it was.

In short, it’s like saying the problem with the stimulus bill was that Obama didn’t sell it well enough. No, the problem with the stimulus bill is that it was a bust and no amount of salesmanship was going to convince the voters otherwise. The difference with ObamaCare is that widespread revulsion, Scott Brown’s election, and belated cold feet by Democrats prevented (so far) the bad bill from being passed. And for that we can be thankful.

Read Less

One Down

Well, well — it seems that reality has poked its head into the U.S. Senate. This report explains:

Senate Democratic leaders said Tuesday they would put off debate on a big climate-change bill until spring, in a sign of weakening political will to tackle a long-term environmental issue at a time of high unemployment and economic uncertainty.

And if they can’t get a massive tax and regulatory bill through now, how are they going to get it passed in an election year? One suspects they won’t and it’s dead. But this was a top Obama priority (“The climate-bill delay sidetracks one of President Barack Obama’s top domestic priorities. Mr. Obama has said action to curb greenhouse gases would unleash investment in clean-energy technology and create jobs”). Couldn’t he use his power of persuasion to get this through? Apparently not. While Nancy Pelosi could force her troops to walk the plank (for nothing, it turned out), the ensuing backlash has cooled whatever enthusiasm there was for this. And 10.2 percent unemployment didn’t help either:

Momentum for a climate bill has been undermined by fears that capping carbon-dioxide emissions — the inevitable product of burning oil and coal — would slow economic growth, raise energy costs and compel changes in the way Americans live.

“It’s really big, really, really hard, and is going to make a lot of people mad,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.).

Democrats looking ahead to the 2010 midterm elections are concerned about a backlash from voters in industrial and heartland states dependent on coal. Republicans are portraying Democrats’ “cap and trade” proposals, which call for capping overall U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions and allowing companies to buy and trade permits to emit those gases, as a “cap and tax” scheme.

You don’t suppose a similar sentiment might take hold on health-care reform, do you? Stay tuned.

Well, well — it seems that reality has poked its head into the U.S. Senate. This report explains:

Senate Democratic leaders said Tuesday they would put off debate on a big climate-change bill until spring, in a sign of weakening political will to tackle a long-term environmental issue at a time of high unemployment and economic uncertainty.

And if they can’t get a massive tax and regulatory bill through now, how are they going to get it passed in an election year? One suspects they won’t and it’s dead. But this was a top Obama priority (“The climate-bill delay sidetracks one of President Barack Obama’s top domestic priorities. Mr. Obama has said action to curb greenhouse gases would unleash investment in clean-energy technology and create jobs”). Couldn’t he use his power of persuasion to get this through? Apparently not. While Nancy Pelosi could force her troops to walk the plank (for nothing, it turned out), the ensuing backlash has cooled whatever enthusiasm there was for this. And 10.2 percent unemployment didn’t help either:

Momentum for a climate bill has been undermined by fears that capping carbon-dioxide emissions — the inevitable product of burning oil and coal — would slow economic growth, raise energy costs and compel changes in the way Americans live.

“It’s really big, really, really hard, and is going to make a lot of people mad,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.).

Democrats looking ahead to the 2010 midterm elections are concerned about a backlash from voters in industrial and heartland states dependent on coal. Republicans are portraying Democrats’ “cap and trade” proposals, which call for capping overall U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions and allowing companies to buy and trade permits to emit those gases, as a “cap and tax” scheme.

You don’t suppose a similar sentiment might take hold on health-care reform, do you? Stay tuned.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.