President Obama went to Boston and spoke at Fanueil Hall to promote Obamacare yesterday. The White House has posted the text of his remarks here. The New York Times has posted video of the speech along with Michael Shear’s story on the speech. As always, the whole thing is worth a look.
Obamacare: It’s not just a leftist Democratic fiasco. It’s Republican too! That was the theme of the speech. As I recall, Republicans unanimously opposed the nationalization of health care. Obama imputes inspiration for Obamacare, if not paternity, to Mitt Romney, and Mitt Romney was our 2012 standard-bearer. Neo-neocon respectfully disagrees with the substance of Obama’s argument on this point.
One measure of the deep dishonesty of the speech is Obama’s treatment one of the foundational lies of Obamacare, variously stated many times: “If you have insurance that you like, then you will be able to keep that insurance.” Here is what he had to say:
Now, it is also true that some Americans who have health insurance plans that they bought on their own through the old individual market are getting notices from their insurance companies suggesting that somehow, because of the Affordable Care Act, they may be losing their existing health insurance plan. This has been the latest flurry in the news. Because there’s been a lot of confusion and misinformation about this, I want to explain just what’s going on.
One of the things health reform was designed to do was to help not only the uninsured, but also the underinsured. And there are a number of Americans –- fewer than 5 percent of Americans -– who’ve got cut-rate plans that don’t offer real financial protection in the event of a serious illness or an accident. Remember, before the Affordable Care Act, these bad-apple insurers had free rein every single year to limit the care that you received, or use minor preexisting conditions to jack up your premiums or bill you into bankruptcy. So a lot of people thought they were buying coverage, and it turned out not to be so good.
Before the Affordable Care Act, the worst of these plans routinely dropped thousands of Americans every single year. And on average, premiums for folks who stayed in their plans for more than a year shot up about 15 percent a year. This wasn’t just bad for those folks who had these policies, it was bad for all of us — because, again, when tragedy strikes and folks can’t pay their medical bills, everybody else picks up the tab.
Now, if you had one of these substandard plans before the Affordable Care Act became law and you really liked that plan, you’re able to keep it. That’s what I said when I was running for office. That was part of the promise we made. But ever since the law was passed, if insurers decided to downgrade or cancel these substandard plans, what we said under the law is you’ve got to replace them with quality, comprehensive coverage — because that, too, was a central premise of the Affordable Care Act from the very beginning.
Obama’s oft-repeated lie that “if you like your health insurance, you can keep it” did not stop with the passage of Obamacare. He repeatedly assured Americans after the enactment of Obamacare that those who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it. Indeed, the lie was a staple of his 2012 campaign. He didn’t backdate it.
Nevertheless, some of you who were happy with your insurance shouldn’t have been. You were dealing with “bad apple” insurers who were taking advantage of you. You were a chump. Dr. Obama is here from the government, and he is here to help you. “If you’re getting one of these [cancellation] letters,” don’t sweat it. “[J]ust shop around in the new marketplace — that’s what it’s for.” Even if your policy has been cancelled, “nobody is losing their [sic] right to health care coverage.”
Even so, Obama slightly modifies this particular foundational lie: “For the vast majority of people who have health insurance that works, you can keep it” (emphasis added). That’s not the way I remember it, but thanks, bub. Incidentally, David Frum has come out as another victim (or chump) of Obamacare. David Harsanyi explains “Obamacare’s ugly authoritarian problem.” Demagogy is a handy prop for authoritarians, and Obama deploys it in full force here as elsewhere.
This week’s NBC News story belies the lines Obama was peddling in Boston. Nevertheless, it’s hard to keep up. He’s lying as fast as he can and he’s remarkably adept at it.