At his dog-and-pony show on health care — excuse me, health insurance — reform in Portsmouth yesterday, President Obama denied that adding a government plan to “compete” with private insurance plans would drive insurers out of business, creating a single payer system by indirection. Obama argued that private insurers should have no problem “competing” with the government. “I think private insurers should be able to compete,” Obama said. “They do it all the time.”
Then he invoked the United States Postal Service: “I mean, if you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? No, they are. It’s the Post Office that’s always having problems.”
The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe followed up. The White House helpfully provided O’Keefe its explication of Obama’s remarks. The White House said Obama was pointing out that while core Postal Service services are different from those offered by UPS and FedEx, it has not undermined the competitive spirit of the private shipping industry.
We have all noted Obama’s admiration for the competitive spirit of private enterprise. It’s just private enterprise he doesn’t like so much. As for the Postal Service:
“It’s been public for some time that the Postal Service’s fiscal path is unsustainable,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said when asked about the president’s generally dismissive remarks. “It has been struggling due to unprecedented reductions in mail volume, and the effect of the economic crisis has made things worse.” Psaki was unaware of any previous public comments made by Obama about the Postal Service or its financial woes.
Obama’s remarks are not to be construed as expressing a lack of support for the USPS, or for health care a la the USPS.