03.31.2010 0

Health Care Reform: Endorsed by Obama Supporters?

  • On: 04/02/2010 10:38:45
  • In: Health Care
  • By Victor Morawski

    Fallacies are mistakes in reasoning that occur so often and are so easily made that, over the years, logicians have sought to give them names for convenient reference. While teaching a recent unit on fallacies to my Logic students, I plucked from the Internet, summarized, and placed on a test an argument advanced by a blogger to counter the evidence from polls that Health Care Reform legislation was unpopular with the American people.

    What the blogger said in essence was: “It is wrong to say that the majority of the American people no longer support the legislation for comprehensive health care reform now before Congress. A majority of the American people elected Barack Obama as President. Health care reform was part of his platform. So, a majority of the American people support comprehensive health care reform.”

    Now I would be happy to let this one go as a piece of shaky reasoning by an obscure liberal blogger that deserves little serious attention were it not for the fact that, just a few days ago, I heard the Rev. Al Sharpton use essentially the same argument on a national news broadcast. As acceptance of this reasoning may be more widespread than I had previously realized, I think that it deserves to be addressed.

    If the above argument seems alright, don’t be misled. An additional characteristic of fallacies is that, while from a logical point of view they are leaky buckets that won’t hold water, they are often quite persuasive psychologically. What goes wrong in the blogger’s reasoning is that he is offering as reason to believe that a majority of Americans really do support ObamaCare a fact about the special circumstances of Obama supporters. In essence, it is argued that because they are his supporters, then they automatically supported the health care reform plan in his platform.

    This simply just does not follow. If I am a Republican, it does not follow that, because of those special circumstances, one should conclude that I automatically support every plank in the Republican platform. Neither does it follow from the fact that a majority of Americans elected Barack Obama to office, that that same majority of Americans automatically supported his plan to reform health care — even less does it do so now.

    Additionally, it can be argued that of those Obama supporters who really did endorse his plan for comprehensive health care reform, what they really in fact endorsed was a version of health care reform that did not include an individual mandate — as that was the plan he ran on and what he stressed separated his health care reform proposal from that of his opponent, Hilary Clinton. We could view his election in the Democratic primary as being, at least in part, a rejection by even Democratic voters — his base — of the individual mandate in health care reform.

    Gone now from Obama’s speeches are any mention of how hard it will be for some Americans to live with the odorous burden of an individual health care insurance mandate — points he made campaigning. We hear nothing of his argument that a person who is fined substantially for not being able to comply with an individual health insurance mandate will now be worse off than before — that person will still have no health insurance and will now have to deal with the additional burden of paying the fine laid on them. Unlike the argument with which we began, this was a good argument Mr. President. What happened to it?

    No matter where the cut-off point for subsidies is eventually stipulated to be, there will always be a group of Americans for which the above will be true.

    Victor Morawski, professor at Coppin State University, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer for Americans for Limited Government.

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