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President Obama blew it on swine flu, so why trust him on health care reform?

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Posted: Saturday, January 9, 2010 12:00 am

Less than three months ago, President Barack Obama declared that swine flu was a "national emergency."

Obama granted his Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebilius extraordinary powers to let hospitals move emergency rooms off-site to handle the anticipated crisis.

As part of Obama's chilling prediction that the nation would soon be at the point of no return from the ravages of swine flu, the president issued this statement: "As a nation, we have prepared at all levels of government, and as individuals and communities, and are taking unprecedented steps to counter the emerging pandemic."

Proving that colossal misjudgment is bipartisan, Republican Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell pledged to provide the administration with whatever federal funding necessary to avert disaster.

Even the nation's leading health authority got it wrong. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Thomas Frieden, "many millions" of Americans were already stricken.

The first clue that the H1N1 situation was not quite as described by the White House came when Obama's daughters, despite the urging from the CDC that all children between 6 months and 18 years be vaccinated, did not receive their vaccines until media questioning about why they had not became too intense.

Now we know it was all a hoax. H1N1 is not significantly more dangerous or contagious than ordinary winter flu strains. Projections of thousands of deaths were grossly exaggerated.

Look to the shameful H1N1 overhyping to explain why the percentage of Americans favoring health care reform has steadily fallen since June from 50 percent to its current 42 percent.

I have said from the beginning that in addition to the endless Congressional debate that has numbed the public into nonresponsiveness, American's biggest concern is that the federal government is simply incapable of effectively managing any major new program.

Consider swine flu. Obama, the Senate, the Cabinet and the nation's leading health agency — all completely wrong!

If leadership cannot get an accurate reading on something as basic as the common flu, how can we possibly trust it on 2,000 pages of complex legislation?

We can't. And therein lies the rub. The next step in the health care debate is for the Senate and the House to reconcile their two, substantially different bills.

The problem is not just that Congressional liberals and conservatives hold starkly differing opinions on abortion, the public option, starting dates and the tax increases necessary to pay for the $1 trillion plan.

Further complications set in when incumbent House Democrats must decide whether they want to be re-elected or to pay homage to Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Back in November, the House could only squeak out the narrowest 220-215 margin in favor of HR 3200. That bodes poorly for the upcoming reconciliation effort.

Whatever happens, you can expect health care to play a major role in the elections.

Based on the reader replies I received from a column I wrote two weeks ago, Lodians are leery of the price tag as well as the bureaucratic red tape. Many are disgusted that Congressional leaders cut special deals with certain representatives to ram the bills through to meet a self-imposed, hypothetical Christmas deadline.

California's 11th District Democratic Congressman Jerry McNurtney voted "yes" on H.R. 3200, predicting that it would make health care more affordable for Americans.

But McNerney's would-be Republican challengers are all opposed to health care.

Republican Brad Goehring worries that a health care overhaul would inevitably lead to rationing and add to the nation's ballooning debt load.

Tony Amador asks if Americans want the kind of management that runs the IRS making their health decisions.

Other candidates Robert Beadles, Elizabeth Emken, Larry Pegram and Jeff Takada are also opposed.

If health care passes, predominantly conservative Lodi voters could take out it on McNerney and other Democratic incumbents. None will have Obama's coattails to ride on this year.

In what shapes up as tough mid-year election for the Democrats, they continue to ignore the significant constituent resistance to their liberal agenda.

On balance, America is a nation of moderates; the Democrats, the party of extremists Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

Joe Guzzardi recommends readers attend a California 11th District Republican primary candidate forum in Manteca on Jan. 11 at the Crossroads Grace Community Church, 1505 Moffat Blvd. from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Send Guzzardi e-mail at guzzjoe@yahoo.com.

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