Bit by bit, we’re learning more about President Obama’s broken promise that you can keep your health insurance if you like it, which was repeated at least two dozen times in recent years.
As reported last week by NBC’s Lisa Myers and Hannah Rappleye, the administration knew to expect the current wave of policy cancellations for “at least three years.” NBC cited estimates of about 7 to 11 million cancellations:
Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC News 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.”
None of this should come as a shock to the Obama administration.
Last weekend, The Wall Street Journal added the news that Obama’s pledge was actively debated by his advisory team. Some advisers objected to the pledge, knowing it wasn’t accurate, only to be overruled by “political aides.”
All of this raises the question: What should we call such a deliberate deception?
Did Obama merely misspeak, as claimed by The New York Times editorial board?
Or, is he guilty of an out-and-out lie?
The WSJ’s James Taranto stopped short of the “L” word in his “Best of the Web” column yesterday, but otherwise hit the nail on the head:
To misspeak means to express oneself imperfectly or incorrectly. It implies either a careless choice of words or an unintended candor (as in a “Freudian slip”). Obama did not misspeak. As The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend, the slogan was the result of careful deliberation.
Suppose the deliberations the Journal describes had taken place in a corporate suite rather than a government one and had concerned a commercial rather than a political advertising slogan. In that case, we’d be talking about a criminal conspiracy to defraud consumers.
In other words, Obama’s pledge was no different to, say, JPMorgan’s misrepresentations about the toxic mortgages it sold to unwitting investors. Fraudulent mortgage claims were surely discussed within JPM, just as Obama’s team debated the health insurance promise. Moreover, any internal concerns about the mortgage fraud were certainly squashed, just like the reservations expressed by Obama’s more truthful advisers.
But the consequences of Obama’s false advertisements are worse than those of private institutions such as JPM. In an economy that’s awash in misinformation – which is basically any economy – we can at least protect our interests against those of other private entities. We can walk away from claims that don’t pass the sniff test. If we learn we’ve been fooled, we can take our business elsewhere. Finally, we can turn to the courts for compensation.
None of these options are realistic, though, when the transgressor happens to hold the title, President of the United States. Under our new, more socialistic approach to health care, our only choice is to play by Obama’s rules. We also have to accept that information about those rules is tightly controlled by his team. Which means it’s crafted to protect his popularity and legacy above other considerations including the truth.
Just as Taranto didn’t go so far as to use the “L” word in his column yesterday, neither did any of the other mainstream media reports we reviewed. There were plenty of carefully worded euphemisms, but presumably it’s not polite to say the president told a lie.
We’ll show no such restraint: Obama told a blatant lie, which he then continued to repeat. It’s not the first time he’s lied, but this was an absolute whopper.
And while Taranto was right to compare his deceit to corporate fraud, we’ll add that we have no recourse against the president’s lies, unlike in the private sector. Therefore, Obama’s actions are more demoralizing and destructive than those of corporate fraudsters.