Truth


Part of a speech by Robert Reich, formerly Bill Clinton’s Labor Secretary and currently an economics adviser to Barack Obama, from September of 2007.

I’ll actually give you a speech made up entirely, almost on the spur of the moment, of what a candidate for president would say if that candidate did not care about becoming president. In other words, this is what the truth is and a candidate will never say, but what a candidate should say if we were in the kind of democracy where citizens were honored in terms of their practice of citizenship and they were educated in terms of what the issues were and they could separate myth from reality in terms of what candidates would tell them:

Thank you so much for coming this afternoon. I’m so glad to see you, and I would like to be president. Let me tell you a few things on health care. Look, we have the only health care system in the world that is designed to avoid sick people. And that’s true, and what I’m going to do is that I am going try to reorganize it to be more amenable to treating sick people. But that means you—particularly you young people, particularly you young healthy people—you’re going to have to pay more.

Thank you. And by the way, we’re going to have to, if you’re very old, we’re not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for another couple of months. It’s too expensive, so we’re going to let you die.

Also I’m going to use the bargaining leverage of the federal government in terms of Medicare, Medicaid—we already have a lot of bargaining leverage—to force drug companies and insurance companies and medical suppliers to reduce their costs. But that means less innovation and that means less new products and less new drugs on the market which means you are probably not going to live much longer than your parents. Thank you.

— Robert Reich, UC Berkeley, 2007.09.26

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