President Barack Obama will host the first of three health care townhalls at 1 PM in Portsmouth, N.H. today, with follow up sessions in Bozeman, Montana on Friday and Grand Junction, Colorado on Saturday. Close followers of the health care debate might not recognize the pitch President Obama will make this afternoon. Gone are any promises that Obamacare will be “deficit neutral”, or reduce medical costs by cutting waste, or of “bending the cost curve” through a Trojan Horse public option.

Instead, Obama has shrunk his sales pitch to three specific problems: ending the practice of denying insurance coverage to people with a pre-existing illness; keeping people from losing their coverage if they get sick; and protecting Americans who face high out-of-pocket medical costs. These are all great goals, but they have very little to do with what is actually in the legislation before Congress.

This is why New Hampshire is such an opportune place for Obama to host the first of his health care townhalls since Granite Staters have a long tradition of fiscal responsibility. In this morning’s USA Today experts predict that estimates from both the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the White House due later this month will produce a fiscal year 2009 deficit of $1.8 trillion at a time when President Obama is seeking to add a new health care entitlement that will cost $1 trillion in just its first ten years. Earlier this year, President Obama tried to bring some semblance of fiscal responsibility into his administration by recruiting Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) to be his Secretary of Commerce. But it quickly became apparent to Gregg that his fiscally responsible values conflicted with Obama’s policies. Commenting on Obama’s budget a few short months later Gregg wrote:

The budget the Obama administration has presented to the American people is a new type of budget it expands our government in unprecedented ways and presents the largest tax increase in history. … In the next five years, the debt will double, and in 10 years, it will triple. This budget creates more debt than under every president from George Washington to George W. Bush combined and makes us more dependent on China and other governments to finance our debt, threatening the value of our currency and our financial security.

And now on health care, Gregg sees Obamacare only making the deficit worse:

Our deficit is clearly out of control, and the Democratic Congress, with its power of the purse, is doing nothing to address it. Instead, the majority is forging ahead with wildly expensive health care reform proposals that will plunge this country deeper and deeper into debt. Despite pledges from the President that health insurance reform will not add to the deficit, CBO estimates show that both the House Tri-Committee bill and the Senate HELP Committee bill will result in hundreds of billions in additional deficits.

The American public is extremely skeptical of President Obama’s health care promises. Last week Quinnipiac University found that 72% of Americans don’t believe President Obama will keep his promise to overhaul the health care system without adding to the federal deficit. And Gallup‘s Frank Newport found: “The push for healthcare reform is occurring in an environment characterized by high levels of concern about fiscal responsibility, government spending, and the growing federal deficit. … The economy outweighs health care as the most pressing problem facing the country and in Americans’ personal lives.” Considering that the Obamacare will be spending $245 billion a year by 2019, Granite Staters should be pressing the President about what happened to his fiscal responsibility promises.

Quick Hits:

  • According to Rasmussen Reports, only 32% of voters nationwide favor a single-payer health care system, while 57% are opposed to a single-payer plan.
  • Billionaire speculator and alleged insider trader George Soros has pledged to sink $5 million into the pro-Obamacare Health Care For America Now astroturf group.
  • A memo from SEIU Local 2001 tells union members to go to town halls and “come out in strong numbers to drown out” the voices of other citizens.
  • Responding to a mistranslated question from a Congolese student who meant to ask what President Obama thought about Chinese trade with the Congo, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tersely responded: “You want me to tell you what my husband thinks? My husband is not secretary of state, I am. If you want my opinion I will tell you my opinion. I am not going to be channeling my husband.”
  • Speaking from Guadalajara, Mexico, President Barack Obama said Monday he expects to have a draft immigration bill in Congress by year’s end.