Monday, November 11, 2013

Obama's Lie

Over the years President Obama has made many statements to the effect that if you liked your current health insurance plan you would be allowed to keep it under his plan.  It is now obvious that these statements were incorrect.  Moreover I think it is fair to characterize them as lies.  First the blanket nature of the statements was unrealistic, even with the best intentions it is hard to make major changes in the health care system while preserving for everyone an option to continue with their existing plans.  Second and more importantly it was always a fundamental part of Obama's program that healthy and unhealthy people would pay the same rate for health insurance even if their expected claims costs were vastly different.   This meant forcing everyone into the same new risk pools where they would pay a blended rate.  Allowing healthy people to keep cheap existing plans catering to healthy people was at odds with this objective.  As a result the Obama administration didn't make a sincere good faith effort to allow as many of these people as possible to keep their existing plans (and thus stay out of the new risk pools).  Instead they wrote regulations that intentionally made it difficult for existing plans to qualify for exemptions from the law's new requirements.  As a result millions of people in the individual health insurance market are now being forced to find new plans regardless of their wishes contrary to Obama's repeated assurances that they would have the option of keeping their existing health insurance.  This was planned and not some unanticipated accident.  So it is hard for me to see why Obama's false statements shouldn't be called lies.

Of course politicians in general lie a lot so this is not some unique sin of Obama's.  He was not the first American President to lie to the American people and he won't be the last.  One of the (many) things that irritated me about President Carter was his claim that he would never lie.  In my view a more honest man would have pledged to try to minimize his lies which Carter was failing to do every time he pledged never to lie.  In any case just because many politicians have lied in the past and will lie in the future doesn't mean they shouldn't pay a political price when caught.  It appears Obama is paying such a price and he deserves to.  If he and his administration had devoted less effort to selling their plan politically and more to developing a sound and workable (which probably implies less ambitious) plan they and the nation would be better off today.

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