WSJ op-ed makes wrong turn with claim that Obama is on a "drive to socialize health care"


Wall Street Journal editorial board member Kimberley Strassel trotted out the oft-repeated falsehood that President Obama is on a "drive to socialize health care," a charge that echoes the baseless attacks conservatives have made against other progressives' health care reform proposals since the 1930s.

In a May 8 Wall Street Journal op-ed, titled "Republicans and ObamaCare," editorial board member Kimberley Strassel trotted out the oft-repeated falsehood that President Obama is on a "drive to socialize health care." Strassel's claim echoes a charge conservatives have used since the 1930s to baselessly attack progressive health care reform proposals. In fact, Obama has not proposed to "socialize health care."

As noted in a March 4 post, "Obama's plan leaves in place the private health care system, but seeks to expand it to the uninsured," and "the plan is very different from some European-style health systems where the government owns health clinics and employs doctors." Indeed, during a March 26 online town hall, Obama explicitly rejected the notion of eliminating the current employer-provided private health insurance system. When asked, "Why can we not have a universal health care system, like many European countries, where people are treated based on needs rather than financial resources," Obama replied, "I actually want a universal health care system; that is our goal." But he said a "universal health care system" does not have to be a "single-payer system." He continued:

OBAMA: And so what evolved in America was an employer-based system. It may not be the best system if we were designing it from scratch. But that's what everybody is accustomed to. That's what everybody is used to. It works for a lot of Americans. And so I don't think the best way to fix our health care system is to suddenly completely scrap what everybody is accustomed to and the vast majority of people already have. Rather, what I think we should do is to build on the system that we have and fill some of these gaps.

Additionally, one of the "eight principles" for the health care reform plan put forward in Obama's budget outline is "Guarantee Choice," meaning the plan "should provide Americans a choice of health plans and physicians. They should have the option of keeping their employer-based health plan." That principle is reiterated on the White House's health care Web page.

As Media Matters for America has documented, this is not the first time the Journal's opinion pages have misinformed on health care reform. The Journal has provided a forum for the false claims that Obama is seeking to implement a government-run health care system similar to that of European countries and that Democrats are aiming to nationalize the health insurance market.

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
Wall Street Journal
Kimberley A. Strassel
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