Americans may distrust economists, and most of them would have a rough time with an Econ 101 final exam if they had to take it today, but through everyday experience Americans also have internalized one of the most fundamental concepts of economics: there is no such thing as a free lunch. And it is because Americans instinctively believe in this fundamentally conservative concept that poll after poll shows Americans no longer trust President Barack Obama on health care. Americans know Obama is not telling the truth and that fact was crystallized in this exchange from last night’s press conference:

JAKE TAPPER ABC NEWS: You said earlier that you wanted to tell the American people what’s in it for them, how will their family benefit from health-care reform. But experts say that in addition to the benefits that you’re pushing, there is going to have to be some sacrifice in order for there to be true cost-cutting measures, such as Americans giving up tests, referrals, choice, end-of-life care.

When you describe health-care reform, you don’t — understandably, you don’t talk about the sacrifices that Americans might have to make. Do you think — do you accept the premise that other than some tax increases, on the wealthiest Americans, the American people are going to have to give anything up in order for this to happen?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: They’re going to have to give up paying for things that don’t make them healthier. And I — speaking as an American, I think that’s the kind of change you want.

In other words, Obama wants Americans to believe that his health plan covers the uninsured, improves patient care, puts “more money in people’s pockets,” all while adding nothing to the deficit. Obama is trying to convince Americans to disregard every ounce of common sense that they have and believe he is selling them an actual free lunch. Americans have every right to be skeptical. Take Obama’s claims that he can control health care costs by giving more power to a group of experts known as MedPac (Medicare Payment Advisory Commission).

Congress already has a long track record of putting into place seemingly automatic spending reductions in health, only to block them later. For instance, Congress routinely rolls back the “sustainable growth rate” trimming of Medicare physician payments that were supposed to keep down Medicare costs. Congress similarly decided to ignore the requirement in the 2003 prescription drug legislation that it automatically consider White House proposals to limit taxpayer subsidies for Medicare. Americans have every right to be skeptical about this latest gimmick’s capacity for actually bringing down costs. If our health care spending crisis is a long-term one, like Obama says, then Americans should demand that Obama prove he can contain costs in Medicare before creating a new trillion dollar budget-busting entitlement.

But what if Obama’s MedPac idea did work? That might be an even bigger threat to Americans’ health care. It would be the equivalent of a federal health board determining how health care was rationed for all seniors. Combined with the public plan proposal, that would be another huge lurch towards taking the control of health care out of the hands of patients and their doctors.

Despite Obama’s constant insistence otherwise, conservatives do have an alternative vision for health care reform and do not favor the “status quo.” For example, Obama wants one single committee of “experts” in Washington to make all medical decisions for everyone in the country. Conservatives take a polar-opposite approach. We want to rebuild the health care system from the ground up, not the top down. We want millions of Americans sitting down with their doctors and making millions of decisions every day about what procedures and treatments are best for them.  The media is right to be calling out the President for delivering false rhetoric on health care.  He’s asking us to trust him on a trillion dollar plan he has not read, and to dismiss what all Americans inherently know:  Everything has a price.

Quick Hits:

  • According to Gallup, President Obama has net negative approval ratings on the federal budget deficit (55%-41%), health care policy (50%-44%), taxes (48%-44%), and the economy (49%-47%).
  • The House health bill allows President Obama’s taxpayer-funded public plan to pay for abortions.
  • Massachusetts universal health care plan not only has caused a $9 billion gap in the state budget, it has also led to rationing of care: one in five people has been turned away by a doctor’s office or clinic.
  • Also according to Gallup, 59% of Americans say President Obama’s proposals to address the major problems facing the country call for too much government spending, and 52% say Obama’s proposals call for too much expansion of government power.
  • ACORN filed a federal lawsuit yesterday challenging a Pennsylvania law that makes it a crime to “give, solicit or accept payment or financial incentive to obtain a voter registration if the payment or incentive is based upon the number of registrations or applications obtained.”