By on June 25, 2009

“The Buick LeSabre is made in Ontario, Canada . . . the UAW worker in Canada makes the same wage as the UAW worker in the U.S.”
—Vice President Joe Biden in the Detroit News

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34 Comments on “Quote Of The Day: Paging Dan Quayle Edition...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    It is an outrage that the LeSabre is built by the UAW in Canada.

    Especially considering that everyone knows the United States invented the automobile.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    He got the details wrong, but his point is still true. It is cheaper to manufacture a vehicle in Canada than in the US because Canada has much less expensive health care costs than the US. Contrary to what fear mongers say, Canadians are at least as happy with their health care system as Americans are:

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/8056/healthcare-system-ratings-us-great-britain-canada.aspx

    Using 2003 data, Canada spent an average of $2,998 per person on health care while the US spent $5,711.

    http://www.kff.org/insurance/snapshot/chcm010307oth.cfm

    So, the problem isn’t only that businesses carry the primary health care cost burden in the US, but also that those costs are wildly higher than those of other developed countries. Even struggling countries like Cuba have comparable life expectancies to the US while spending a small fraction of the money achieving it:

    http://ucatlas.ucsc.edu/spend.php

    If the US achieved Canadian levels of health care spending per person we could not only provide for everyone, but also still spend less in total on healthcare then we are spending presently. Canada’s life expectancy rates are 2-3 years longer than those of the US, so you can’t exactly chalk Canada’s cost effectiveness up to killing people off through lack of care.

  • avatar
    RayH

    he might have known that the LeSabre was discontinued in 2005, that model was made in the United States, not Canada, and workers in Ontario are members of the Canadian Auto Workers which broke off from the UAW in 1985 and became an independent union.

    98 percent+ of America probably didn’t notice it was gone, either. Go Joe!

  • avatar
    Petra

    He had the LaCrosse in mind. ;)

  • avatar
    Strippo

    Interesting, but why is Obama chauffeuring Bruce Willis around?

  • avatar
    BDB

    Did he ask if “our children is learning”?

  • avatar
    BDB

    You also have to remember politicians at the national level tend to live in a completely different world. Joe Biden probably hasn’t actually driven his own car (let alone bought one himself) since the mid-70s.

    Remember when George H.W. Bush was fascinated by laser checkouts in the early ’90s (something that had been around since the 60s?) Or when Hillary Clinton had trouble working a slurpee machine? Same thing.

  • avatar
    50merc

    BDB: “Remember when George H.W. Bush was fascinated by laser checkouts in the early ’90s (something that had been around since the 60s?)”

    Legend, as in urban legend. That story was propagated by the New York Times, naturally, and became much beloved by the Left. But it’s essentially bogus:
    http://www.snopes.com/history/american/bushscan.asp

    I now return readers to the real reason for TTAC: a pervasive and tiresome quarrel over nationalized medical insurance.

  • avatar
    tpandw

    Given Joe Biden’s propensity for misspeaking (to say it politely), I’m surprised he didn’t say it was a Chrysler Lesabre. On the other hand, given GM’s propensity for changing car names to disguise what they really are, Joe can probably be forgiven.

  • avatar
    BDB

    My point still stands. Hillary Clinton and the slurpee machine DID happen, so did Mitt Romney doing this:

    Thinking it would bring him the black vote.

    Or Bush 43 talking about “the rumors on the InternetS”.

    Politicians at the national level (much like Hollywood celebrities( can be stunningly isolates from everyday things.

  • avatar
    beller

    unbelievable…..what a flipping goat f$!k this is turning out to be

  • avatar

    @bluecon

    as a self-employed American, I pay $8,200 a year for my health insurance, which is an HMO. But I have a $1,500 deductible, and I use enough health care, largely in drugs, that I run through this by April or May. Then I still have copays on the drugs, which amount to hundreds of dollars. I don’t get dental in my health plan, and last year I had to pay nearly $3k for a crown and the grinding of the sides of the tooth so that the crown would be stable. I also don’t get any optometric.

    Although my HMO is cheaper than other options, I CAN’T NECESSARILY SEE THE DOCTORS I WANT, AND HAVE LOST ONE GOOD DOC BECAUSE OF THIS

    On top of all that, one of the leading causes of personal bankruptcies in the US is health problems. Lose your ability to work and you’re up sh*t’s creek in this country, but not in Canada.

    As for waiting lists, in most Canadian provinces, this is not a problem for anything that is urgent. On the other hand, there are a lot of examples in the US of insurance companies committing “recision” (which means rescinding someone’s insurance) just as the person needs a mastectomy or some other major surgery. (go to bostonglobe.com, click on “opinion” and then go to today’s (June 25) editorials for more on this.)

    Our system also makes it harder for people to be entrepreneurs. One friend’s husband had to keep his job and could not start his own business, because my friend had breast cancer and he wouldn’t have been able to insure her on his own. (She subsequently died at age 54.)

    I consider myself a patriot, but the US’ health care system sucks. There is no security, and it costs far more than that of any other health care system in the world.

  • avatar
    USAFMech

    @John Horner: An oversimplification that, by itself, isn’t saying anything. The quote is, I believe, “chickens come from eggs”.

  • avatar
    BDB

    The solution isn’t the Canadian or British system anyway for the very flaws mentioned. It is on the Swiss or French model (a public base, with various private plans on top). IIRC (not sure) Japan follows this model, too, and they have some of the best health outcomes on the planet.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    The Canadian medical system is pure crappola compared to the US system

    It doesn’t pay for dental, prescription drugs, glasses and more. And much of the equipment that they have is old, they do not have the same modern equipment as the US. And what they have is in limited supply. If you need an operation expect to wait months or years.

    Most canadians have supplementary private insurance for the uncovered portions.

    In pretty much every country with nationalized care they spend about half what we do for comparable or better results in about every metric.

    The trick employed by the deceivers is to concentrate on non-existent scenarios. For example, the people who could afford insurance coverage (usually as employment benefit) for expensive operations in the US are able to do the same elsewhere.

    Anything really to distract attention away from the massive cost discrepancy for generally worse coverage.


    If the Canadian medical was such an advantage the plants would be flocking to Canada instead of the US south. (were they can escape the unions)

    I’m pretty sure one main reason to transplant was to avoid currency fluctuation.

    I wonder how this single track mind works in normal daily life, though. Bad traffic: damn union drivers, Weather delays flight: damn air travel unions can’t predict right, Peanut pack too small: probably some damn union rule.

  • avatar
    BDB

    I’m pretty sure one main reason to transplant was to avoid currency fluctuation.

    And the quotas that free-market, free-trader Reagan (snark) imposed on Japanese imports. I doubt those factories would exist today (or at least not in the number they do) with that explicitly protectionist action.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    Why don’t they build in Michigan?

    Given a choice, companies don’t want authoritarian rule to be hamper. However I would hope people can realize they are one interest out of a pool of potentially more than one.

  • avatar
    BDB

    Honda has plants in Ohio.

    They built a lot of their plants in the South in the ’80s because of a combination of sweetheart tax deals/subsidies from local governments (“bailout buffets”? Hey, if the DOE loan is…) and cheap land.

    But please realize the only reason we have “transplants” in any number, anywhere in this country to begin with is because of protectionist quotas. They are repealed now, of course, but that was after all those plants were built.

  • avatar

    On the matter of Joe Biden, cars, and exposure to everyday life,
    1. when he was a senator he took Amtrak every day between Wilmington DE and Wash. DC, probably about an hour and a half commute each way.
    2. Joe Biden still has a ’67 Corvette, a wedding gift from his father. I don’t know if or how much he drives it.

  • avatar
    timotheus980

    There is no security

    It’s called life, there no security in anything you do unless you pay for it. The government is not an insurance company. If you think insurance companies are making obscene profits, go start your own. You’ll find out real quick that the problem is government interferance, over-regulation, and red tape in every aspect of that business.
    Government interference is also the problem with the auto companies. The government forces domestic car companies to lose money building small cars to meet mileage standards. Imagine the government forcing McDonalds to sell meals in such a way so that the average calorie per meal is less than 700 calories. McD’s (like the auto companies) must then design, build, and try to sell something they are strategically disadvantaged to sell. It’s absurdity. Let companies build what they want. Who cares if GM only sells trucks and SUV’s. It’s not the government’s business.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    It’s called life, there no security in anything you do unless you pay for it. You’ll find out real quick that the problem is government interferance, over-regulation, and red tape in every aspect of that business.

    Yet another soul opining for the libertarian paradise of Somalia.

    No ship to call your own? Ain’t no government to get all up in your business of acquiring one the manly way.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    The data I cited for Canada’s health care costs includes government, personal and insurance expenditures just as it does for the US. By the way, I agree with BDB that the French/Japanese model is a better system for the US than is Canada’s.

    The facts are very clear. The US spends far more per person on health care than does any other industrialized nation, and yet has crummy health care outcome statistics. Facts are stubborn things.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Anybody in the know knows that Joe Biden drives his own pickup truck,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QKc2yPEQLo

    and commuted on public transport for decades. His net worth is one of the lowest of national politicians; he isn’t one of those plutocrats posing as middle class.

    Say what you want about the guy (and he has made many questionable public-policy statements), but I think he is one of the most unphony guys around.

  • avatar
    Kurt.

    “The US spends far more per person on health care ”

    The US also has the highest paid doctors, the highest cost of meds, and the highest costs for Malpractice Insurance.

    Look, I don’t think Canada’s health care system is the answer, but I have been on a US Government run Health Care system (military) for the last 25 years. In that time, I have had 3 situations where if I had been in the US public health care, I would have sued for mal practice and more than likely won (you can’t sue in the military).

    I don’t have the answer but what we got ain’t workin’!

  • avatar
    mattstairs

    Uncle Joe is unphony, except when he lifts speeches from others,
    and except when he tells stories about diners that have been closed for decades (see ’08 VP debate).

    What a fool. The LeSabre is no longer made and was never made in Canada. You would think he’d know what kind of cars Government Motors makes.

    Regarding health care, I won’t argue that the current system works. Lack of coverage, high costs, and the discouragement of entrepreneurship are the worst problems.

    But what are these bad metrics/outcomes in the US that people keep talking about? There are a lot of factors (e.g. lifestyle) that factor into life expectancy, so what else? Aren’t there bad metrics in Canada or England? Try getting a surgery scheduled there. Heck, try getting a test or an MRI scheduled.

    Don’t forget that people from all around the world come to the US for healthcare. We may go to a national healthcare system, but there will be tradeoffs.

    Lower salaries for doctors will mean fewer and lower quality doctors will enter the profession.

    Lower prices for drugs (US subsidizes the rest of the price controlled world) will mean less R&D for drugs.

    Just remember that when something is “free”, there are still costs involved. When/If “healthcare” becomes a budget line item, it will be a rationed good.

  • avatar
    boosterseat

    The Truth About Heath Care.com …
    The CAW worker’s wage is a bit different, but the all-in costs to the automaker are similar, depending on the state of the currency.

  • avatar
    windswords

    The “internets” quote by Bush was a simple mispeak. He meant rumors on websiteS but it came out wrong. This pales next to statements by other politicians that are outright fabrications like Hilary was named after Sir Edmund Hilary.

    I know about Joe Biden. I lived in his state for 9 years. In a state as small as DE you get to know your politicians real good. I check on various websites about DE from time to time to catch up on things. After he was nominated for the VP I visited one for a radio station. They had a poll. The questions was Biden being nominated is… and you checked off the answer. The choices were “is great for DE and the nation”, “is great for DE but bad for the nation”, “is bad for DE but great for the nation”, and “Geez, I hope he doesn’t say something to embarras us”.

    I knew a guy who was a volunteer firemen in DE and a lifelong Democrat. He’s seen lots of politiicans come and go. I asked about our Senators (at that time it was Bill Roth and Joe Biden). He said Roth was a drunk, but he could be totally smashed and if you asked him a serious policy question he would sober right up and give you cogent intelligent response. Biden he said was a consumate politician who would figure out what the audience wanted and then give it to them in his speech whether he believed it or not.

    Now I’ll throw in a “Bidenism”. This was Biden speaking at a football Hall of Fame function:
    “As a kid, you have all kinds of dreams,” Biden said. “I dreamed that someday I’d get here to the Hall of Fame, I really did. Like a lot of kids who played ball and thought they were pretty good, I was hoping to be doing this as an inductee.”

    Biden was born in 1942. The Pro Football Hall of Fame opened in 1963 – when he was 21 years old.

    Biden also claimed during the campaign that president FDR went on *TV* to calm the nation after the stock market crash, (which I remind you was in *1929*). I’ll let the B&B figure out what two things that are wrong with that statement.

  • avatar

    bluecon
    The majority of the transplants go to the right to work states. None of the transplants ever will build a plant in Michigan.

    Why don’t they build in Michigan?

    They may have not built the plant, but Mazda builds cars in Michigan. The Mazda 6 is built at the AutoAlliance International plant in Flat Rock, jointly owned by Ford and Mazda. (Ford provides operational management on a day-to-day basis.)

  • avatar
    timotheus980

    Yet another soul opining for the libertarian paradise of Somalia.

    No ship to call your own? Ain’t no government to get all up in your business of acquiring one the manly way.

    Keeping law and order is the governments job and business. One they should spend more time doing and less time fussing with cow farts and how far my car will go on a tank.

  • avatar
    jmo

    they spend about half what we do for comparable or better results in about every metric.

    If you look at the eventual outcome for various diagnosis, America is by far number one. The only way we get dinged on the WHO studies that show others doing “half what we do for comparable or better results in about every metric” is due to a population that engages in numerous unhealthy behaviours and a lack of universal access.

    However, if you look at survival rates for cancer, heart attack, HIV, trauma, etc. your life expectancy, given these diagnosis, is far higher in the US than any other country.

    And as for the 40 million uninsured please keep in mind that 1/3 are already eligible for existing government programsm, 1/3 make more than 50k a year and 1/3 of those make more than 75k.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Come on – I for one would have been more than happy to be molested by Michael Jackson for $20,000,000?

    $20,000,000 @ 5% = $1,000,000 a year aka $20k a week for the rest of your life.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    However, if you look at survival rates for cancer, heart attack, HIV, trauma, etc. your life expectancy, given these diagnosis, is far higher in the US than any other country.

    Our results overall without spin are comparable (tho asymmetric due to coverage). However we pay twice as much for them (and I’m pretty sure I’m not going to the doctor twice as often). The massive cost difference can pay for plenty of cardiac treatment.


    is due to a population that engages in numerous unhealthy behaviours

    You mean all that gov regulation against smoking isn’t working? Aren’t the people who think we’re getting such a great deal due to the free market the same ones who want to take the same hands off approach which results in medical burdens?

    Keeping law and order is the governments job and business. One they should spend more time doing and less time fussing with cow farts and how far my car will go on a tank.

    The “laws” are those rules, eg. don’t dump waste in the open, can’t put poison in food, etc.

  • avatar
    timotheus980

    The “laws” are those rules, eg. don’t dump waste in the open, can’t put poison in food, etc.

    Yes and all legitimate laws protect someone from something bad. What the government is trying to do with cap and trade is generate revenue for itself. That in and of itself isn’t necessarily bad (except we are already over-taxed). The unacceptable part of it is social engineering aspect of it. The government does not (at least it should not) have the right to decide how many and what kind of car is on the road, which is essentially the power they want. If you continue down this logical pathway, you come to a point where only very wealthy people are able to afford such “poisons” i.e. carbon emitting things like cars and electricity. Talk about living in Somalia.

    I say “poison” because the premise that global warming would be such a bad thing is supported by very sketchy evidence. If you think a flooded city automatically kills everyone in it, I’m sure the people of venice would be surprised to know they should all be dead. Some studies suggest that longer growing seasons in canada and siberia would solve a lot of hunger problems in the world.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    I say “poison” because the premise that global warming would be such a bad thing is supported by very sketchy evidence.

    This is the crux of the argument, and it’s wrong.

    There’ve been at least two threads here about this.

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/nyt-global-warming-to-submerge-2400-miles-of-gulf-roads/

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/omb-memo-criticizes-epa-co2-ruling/

    Reading them in addition to the gigantic volume of scientific study would greatly be to your benefit.

    The unacceptable part of it is social engineering aspect of it.

    Human society IS engineered. The primitives are the ones living in caves. The term you’re looking for is external cost, which is something the free marketeers conveniently leave out of their propaganda because they want everyone else to pay it.

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