"If you like your plan, you can keep it."
Or so went the narrative, in its attempts to make the cramming of a non-partisan policy down our collective throats more palatable.
It was a lie.
It’s a lie now, as reports of cancellations and price increases keep pouring in (stories like this from a former Obamacare supporter). An NBC investigation reports that “50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.””
But it was a lie then, too.
Indeed, the Obama administration knew full well it was rubbish:
We already know that administration policymakers were aware that President Obama’s promise that people who like their plans can keep them under Obamacare was not true, because estimates built into early regulations indicated that many plans would lose their grandfathered, protected status.
A report in today’s Wall Street Journal indicates that senior White House advisers were also concerned that the promise could not be fulfilled, but decided to let the president make it anyway:
When the question arose, Mr. Obama’s advisers decided that the assertion was fair, interviews with more than a dozen people involved in crafting and explaining the president’s health-care plan show.
But at times, there was second-guessing. At one point, aides discussed whether Mr. Obama might use more in-depth discussions, such as media interviews, to explain the nuances of the succinct line in his stump speeches, a former aide said. Officials worried, though, that delving into details such as the small number of people who might lose insurance could be confusing and would clutter the president’s message.
"You try to talk about health care in broad, intelligible points that cut through, and you inevitably lose some accuracy when you do that," the former official said.
The former official added that in the midst of a hard-fought political debate “if you like your plan, you can probably keep it” isn’t a salable point.
So they apparently decided the president should repeatedly make a promise that wasn’t true, and whose impacts would be felt by millions of Americans, simply because they hoped that would make it easier to sell the legislation they wanted to pass.
From the aforementioned NBC report:
[That up to 80% of insured will lose their existig coverage should not] come as a shock to the Obama administration. The law states that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010 will be “grandfathered,” meaning consumers can keep those policies even though they don’t meet requirements of the new health care law. But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, by saying that if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date — the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example — the policy would not be grandfathered.
Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, “40 to 67 percent” of customers will not be able to keep their policy. And because many policies will have been changed since the key date, “the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 to 67 percent range.”
That means the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.
Yet President Obama, who had promised in 2009, “if you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan,” was still saying in 2012, “If [you] already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.”
“This says that when they made the promise, they knew half the people in this market outright couldn’t keep what they had and then they wrote the rules so that others couldn’t make it either,” said Robert Laszewski, of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, a consultant who works for health industry firms. Laszewski estimates that 80 percent of those in the individual market will not be able to keep their current policies and will have to buy insurance that meets requirements of the new law, which generally requires a richer package of benefits than most policies today.
And now, with so many publicly acknowledging his blatant lie regarding the [Un]Affordable Health Care Act, Obama’s in ret-con mode hoping to Jedi mind-trick the public into making them think he said something different.
Obama is retroactively adding a caveat to his promise; he is covering up an old lie with a new one:
Here’s how Obama described his promise yesterday: “Now, if you had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.”
This isn’t just an update. It’s a backwards revision. Obama is not just changing his claim going forward—he’s attempting to alter what he said in the past as well. …
You can see what he actually said in the video above.
Got that? If you’re happy with your plan, nobody’s changing it. If you like your plan, you can keep it. You will keep it. Nobody’s changing it.
There are no exceptions here, no qualifications or caveats. It’s a promise, as Obama has said, period. No matter what.
This is what Obama actually said. But now he’s saying it’s not. He’s covering for his old lie with a new one—an insistence that he never misled in the first place. And he’s hoping that everyone just goes along. The most ardent fanboys might buy it. But most people, I suspect, will see it for the artless and desperate revisionism that it is.
This airbrushing of history isn’t something new, mind you. After all, eugenics was central to progressivism and racism was and is central to a desire for a minimum wage - uncomfortable truths are always given a fresh coat of fiction in order to advance a necessary ideological precept. Fortunately, we live in the age of the internet where the truth is harder to keep under wraps.
But that hasn’t stopped the compliant media from their usual apologetics:
This is a gut-check moment for the mostly left-of-center journalists who have made such a show these past few years of dropping false equivalence and calling out political bullshit at the source. You can subject the policy and politics of Obamacare to truth-scans, or you can carry water for the president. You cannot do both, at least without a laugh track.
There’s a lot in that last piece about administration officials and the media telling lies while calling ideological opponents liars. Fun stuff.
Krugman, as is his wont, gets in on the obfuscation.
And all these lies will continue. Because enough people want to believe them. That’s how he got elected in the first place: he’s a slick salesman, and he tells people what they want to hear. How can anyone trust what emerges from a cloud of lies?
The president’s promises that individuals could keep health plans and doctors were false, and his senior advisers knew it, but decided to mislead people anyway because it made for a better sales pitch. The administration’s repeated assurances that the exchange system was on schedule and on track to work were either intentionally incompetent or deliberately misleading. Obama promised the exchanges would work fine despite not having run complete system tests; multiple senior administration officials claimed they didn’t have enrollment data, even though it’s clear that Obamacare’s overseers had early numbers in hand. On health care, the administration has never had much to offer except distraction, deception, and false hope designed to bolster its own reputation and hide the empty promises it could not keep.
With this record of evasions and incompetence, it is impossible to trust anything the administration says about the health law and its implementation. The only questions that remain are how bad it becomes, for how long, and what deceptions remain to be revealed. What, in other words, are we being given false hope about now?
Unfortunately, too many are comfortable being lied to by political leaders:
President Obama knew that his rhetoric about the Affordable Care Act was misleading and that many people who bought insurance on the individual market would be forced to get new policies when Obamacare made their policies illegal. The Chicago Tribune’s Clarence Page thinks that Obama knowingly lied, but he isn’t that upset about it, because “that’s one of those political lies, you know.”
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied to Congress about NSA surveillance while under oath. He was not forced to resign his post, let alone prosecuted, and in some circles more ire has been aimed at the man questioning him.
Dick Cheney remains widely respected among Republicans despite repeatedly deceiving Americans about the threat Saddam Hussein’s Iraq posed to the United States. In interviews, mainstream media figures continue to give his words the same presumption of truth extended to people who’ve never misled as he did.
Bill Clinton lied under oath and in a finger-wagging statement to the American people. He is, nevertheless, one of the most trusted political figures in the United States today.
There are important ways in which every lie or misleading statement is not equal. If we look at the consequences of every Bush administration misdirection prior to the Iraq War — a multitrillion-dollar conflict that killed 5,000 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis — their deceit was orders of magnitude more damaging than, say, Clinton and his allies subverting a sexual-misconduct lawsuit while under oath.
But there is one way in which all lies government officials tell are alike: To different degrees, they all subvert self-government by depriving Americans of accurate information as we make political judgments. They all diminish an almost depleted store of trust that’s needed for functional governance. …
Our ability to govern ourselves is undermined when Clapper lies about surveillance, when Gen. Keith Alexander misleads about NSA activities abroad, when Obama misleads in the course of defending his health care proposal, and when Sen. Dianne Feinstein suggests absurdly low-ball estimates of innocents killed in drone strikes. There are many more examples of objectionable lies, untruths, and propaganda efforts, but aren’t the ones listed enough to raise general alarm?