President Obama has said a lot of things about health care reform, not just that if you liked your health insurance plan, you could keep it. In a prime-time news conference in July 2009, his rationales for a new law stacked up like planes on an airport runway during a holiday weekend: It would provide “security and stability” for families; it would “keep government out of health care decisions”; it would prevent insurers from “dropping your coverage.” He said the program “would not add to our deficit,” that it would “slow the growth of health care costs in the long run,” that it would be “paid for” but not “on the backs of middle-class families.” Most important, he said, “I want to cover everybody.”
Even at the time, it sounded like the president was contradicting himself. He sought to expand coverage to almost every single American who needs it, but he was also going to reduce the budget deficit. He was going to force insurers to accept every consumer in the marketplace, regardless of their age, their income, or their health, but he was also going to see to it that premium rates were contained.