On June 23, 2007, in a speech called “A Politics of Conscience,” candidate Barack Obama declared: “I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American.” The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is President Obama’s attempt to deliver on that promise.
To my knowledge, Obama has never directly claimed that this Act provides health insurance to every American. However, by talking about Obamacare in the same sentence as he talks about universal health care, his rhetoric invites us to conclude that Obamacare provides universal health insurance.
For example, he has said:
You’ve had an unprecedented effort that you’ve seen ramp up in the past month or so that those who have opposed the idea of universal health care in the first place — and have fought this thing tooth and nail through Congress and through the courts — trying to scare and discourage people from getting a good deal.
Obama wants to create the impression that “this thing” being fought — Obamacare — is universal health care insurance.
And just this week Obama stated:
[W]e took up the fight because we believe that, in America, nobody should have to worry about going broke just because somebody in their family or they get sick. We believe that nobody should have to choose between putting food on their kids’ table or taking them to see a doctor.
Unless Obama is suggesting that Obamacare substantially ensures against these possibilities, it makes no sense for him to claim that he took up the Obamacare fight for that purpose. If Obamacare falls well short, presumably he would have fought for something more substantial. Indeed, Ron Suskind’s book about the first two years of the Obama administration reports that Obama initially opted for Obamacare because he thought it would bring America close to universal coverage.
But in reality, as Tevi Troy points out, Obamacare provides for nothing remotely approaching universal coverage:
[T]he Congressional Budget Office originally estimated after the passage of the law that, in 2019, there would be 54 million uninsured if it did not pass. After its passage, the CBO predicted there would be only 22 million uninsured, a reduction of 32 million uninsured individuals. . . .Then, in 2013, before the law was even implemented, the CBO came up with the new estimate: There would be 31 million uncovered Americans in 2019.
What conclusions can we draw from this:
First, Obama broke his campaign promise to provide health care insurance to every American.
Second, Obama continues to deceive Americans by speaking as if he has fulfilled this promise.
Third, as Tevi says, “it would be more than fair for the American people to ask if the law justifies its huge costs when it comes nowhere near providing ‘universal coverage.’”