Prior to his September 9th, health care “make or break” press conference, the Wall Street Journal estimated that President Barack Obama had by that time already given 27 speeches entirely devoted to health care and he had mentioned the issue prominently in another 92. While the September 9th presser bumped approval of Obamacare all the way up to 51% in Rasmussen’s tracking poll by September 13th, today that number is down to 43% with a record high of 56% disapproving. Undaunted the White House again plastered President Obama on as many friendly media outlets as possible this weekend. Yesterday he appeared on five Sunday news shows (every major network excluding FOX News, but including Univision), and tonight Obama will appear on David Letterman.

The result of this latest media blitz? Nothing. Politico reports: “In the interviews taped Friday – the first time a sitting president has done five Sunday shows back-to-back – Obama broke little new ground in how he tried to sell his own program, which has sharply divided his own party and left many in the public confused and deeply skeptical.” Asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos if he “lost control” of the health care debate, President Obama replied: “Well, not so much lost control, but where I’ve said to myself, somehow I’m not breaking through.”

Mr. President, if you didn’t break through the first 32 times, maybe it is not the message that is the problem. Maybe the problem is that the American people do understand what your health care plan will mean for them, and they just don’t like it.

While President Obama has been careful not to formally endorse any of the health care bills in Congress, he not only specified a final price tag, $900 billion, that is closest to Sen. Max Baucus’ (D-MT) health plan, but he went on to defend the individual mandate and excise taxes in the Baucus bill on two of the Sunday shows. While the Baucus bill is not nearly as bad as parts of the Kennedy-Dodd bill or the House bills, it still constitutes an unprecedented expansion in the size and role of government, raises taxes, and bankrupts states:

Individual Mandates: Starting in 2013, almost everyone who does not have coverage would be required to purchase health insurance at a minimum level to be specified in the bill. Any individual who fails to buy health insurance will be forced to pay a tax by the Internal Revenue Service. Depending on your income and family status the new tax would be as low as $750 per person and as high as $3,800 per family. Worse, in order to enforce these provisions, the Baucus bill would require individuals, health insurers, employers, and government health agencies to report detailed health insurance information on all Americans to the IRS, adding significant administrative costs and reducing privacy protections.

Employer Mandates: Employers with more than 50 employees that do not offer health coverage would have to pay a tax for each employee whose family income is low enough to qualify for a premium credit. By requiring employers to pay taxes based on employees’ family income, not just their pay, companies would have to be informed of their employees’ family income from other sources. Worse, since the credits are based on family income rather than individual income, employers would be discouraged from hiring sole family income earners. This is a job killing employment tax plain and simple.

Unfunded Mandates: All adults with incomes at 133 percent of poverty ($14,440 for single person) would be eligible for Medicaid under the bill. The current and very broken Medicaid program is unsustainable for states and poorly serves the needy and the indigent who depend upon it. Under the Baucus bill, there is no real relief for states in the cost of the current program. States will still face a steep budget cliff in December 2010 when the federal matching formula for Medicaid payment expires. Adding additional costs through expansion of eligibility and benefits is adding people to a sinking boat.

Middle Class Tax Hike: During the 2008 presidential campaign and at the inception of the current national health care reform debate, the President promised that with the enactment of his agenda, the typical American family would see an annual $2,500 reduction in health care premium costs. But, beginning in 2013, the Baucus bill would impose a new federal excise tax on high cost health insurance plans. The tax would be applied to health plans valued at $8,000 for single policies and $21,000 for family policies. Because not all workers in such plans are high income, many will likely be on the receiving end of a middle class income tax increase, which contradicts President Obama’s promise that “if your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime.”

A new Gallup poll shows that 57% of Americans say the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to businesses and individuals. Another 51% say the federal government today has too much power. The American people are clearly signaling that they want less, not more, government influence in the health care system. The White House should stop talking to the American people and start listening.

Quick Hits:

  • Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told the Obama administration last month that the situation in the country is “deteriorating” and that without additional resources, the U.S.-led coalition could lose the war.
  • 45% of Americans say there is too much government regulation of business (compared to only 24% who say there is too little regulation). The 45% “too much” reading is the highest number since Gallup started asking the question.
  • President Obama said in an interview aired Sunday that the community organizing group ACORN should be investigated for offering tax help to a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute in widely watched videotapes.
  • After a two-week binge to meet President Obama’s 200-day goal, stimulus spending has plummeted once again.
  • President Obama also said Sunday that he was open to a bailout of newspapers if they were to restructure as nonprofit businesses.