Monday, April 19, 2010
by Byron York
Back when Barack Obama was pushing for a public option in the new national healthcare system, he raised eyebrows with an out-of-nowhere remark about the U.S. Postal Service.
It happened last August at a town hall in Colorado. Obama claimed Americans shouldn't be afraid of a government insurance company -- the public option -- competing against private insurers, because even though the government has vastly more resources than any individual company, "You've got a lot of private companies who do very well competing against the government -- UPS and FedEx are doing a lot better than the post office."
Obama apparently liked the point, because he made it again at another town hall around the same time. "Private insurers should be able to compete," he said Aug. 11 in New Hampshire. "They do it all the time. I mean, if you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? It's the post office that's always having problems."
It was a jarring moment. Here, Obama was trying to promote a huge expansion of government involvement in the health system, and he pointed to a sprawling, unresponsive and insanely expensive government bureaucracy. (It's also one that nearly every American knows from firsthand experience.) Not exactly the best case for government effectiveness.
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