In the fight over the debt ceiling and shutdown, it’s important to remember that Obamacare was brought to us and is still supported by a string of deceptions and obfuscations. You should really read Megan McArdle’s breakdown of 11 pieces of conventional wisdom about Obamacare. Here’s an example:
4.Emergency room use will decline.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t actually seem to be true. In Massachusetts, ER visits actually rose post-Romneycare. It turns out that people use the ER for non-emergency care for a number of reasons — sometimes a painful-but-not-life-threatening condition like a urinary tract infection arises on a Saturday morning, and sometimes people who work for hourly wages don’t feel that they can afford to take off work to go to a doctor’s office. Or sometimes they have a primary care physician, but can’t get a timely appointment — a situation that got worse in Massachusetts after Romneycare passed.
McCardle leaves out some other things, such as the idea that preventative care will save us money (it won’t) or that electronic medical records will (they won’t). Both might save lives but they won’t save money.
But I’d like to focus on three particular lies that I consider the most egregious. The stuff McCardle talks about is wonky stuff that it hard to predict and about which there is some legitimate debate. But there are three claims about Obamacare that are not only false but were known to be false when they were uttered.
First, the initial promise of Obamacare was that it would save $2500 a year for every family. This was the claim that Obama made during his initial presidential campaign. It was recycled, without the specific number, to get it passed through Congress. In light of spiking insurance rates, this claim now seems laughable. HS has been reduced to touting that premiums will be “lower than expected” which sounds good, but actually means, they aren’t quite as bad as had been feared.
The claim that healthcare reform would immediately slice insurance rates was obvious garbage when Obama said it. Maybe, in the long run, healthcare reform will cut costs. But you simply can not expand insurance to millions of people and have costs go down. Reality doesn’t work that way. Maybe insuring those people is a good social goal; but that’s not how it was sold to us.
It gets worse. Last week, we found out that the whole “save money” thing was just a throwaway line in an Obama speech:
Soon-to-be-candidate Obama, then an Illinois senator, was thinking about turning down an invitation to speak at a big health care conference sponsored by the progressive group Families USA [in January 2007], when two aides, Robert Gibbs and Jon Favreau, hit on an idea that would make him appear more prepared and committed than he actually was at the moment.
Why not just announce his intention to pass universal health care by the end of his first term?…
“We needed something to say,” recalled one of the advisers involved in the discussion. “I can’t tell you how little thought was given to that thought other than it sounded good. So they just kind of hatched it on their own. It just happened. It wasn’t like a deep strategic conversation.”…
The candidate jumped at it. He probably wasn’t going to get elected anyway, the team concluded. Why not go big?
It was months later that Obama became even passingly familiar with healthcare policy. Dan McLaughlin was right when he called this the most Obama thing ever.
The second falsehood we knew about was “if you like your insurance, you can keep it”. We’ve been over this before, so no point in rehashing it again. But it is worth remembering the changes to existing insurance policies was known when Obamacare was being debated. They knew this was incorrect; they knew it outlaws certain insurance policies. And they said it anyway.
This third lie, however, is the one I want to really talk about. When Obamacare was being debated, conservatives were pilloried (and labelled liars by fact-checkers) for claiming this was a government takeover of healthcare and a step toward socialized medicine. Liberal wags joked that if we thought Obamacare was socialism, we didn’t know what socialism was. We were outmoded hysterics. Even when we unearthed video of Obama bragging that single payer was the goal, we were bashed for taking him out of context or something.
But I’ve noticed something in the last few days. Suddenly, all the liberals who said we were crazy for thinking this would lead to single payer are … claiming this will lead to single payer. Their claim is that the fierce opposition to Obamacare is because conservatives are afraid the public will like it and demand single payer. Here‘s Bill Maher, in an awful op-ed I plan to fisk later today. Here is Harry Reid. Check out the comments of every liberal blog out there. The claim that was once dismissed as conservative hysteria is now being touted as the major reason for Obamacare’s awesomeness.
So … let’s sum up. We claimed that Obamacare would be expensive, would change insurance and would be a step toward socialism. We were branded liars and hysterics by people who knew everything we said was right. And now they’ve turned those memes around to support Obamacare.
And they think we’re dishonest.