It seems safe to say that contrition isn’t exactly Barack Obama’s strong suit. Even while Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius was admitting yesterday to Congress that the Obamacare rollout has been a “debacle,” President Obama was in Massachusetts (the perfect place to pretend there is no disconnect between reverence for America’s founding principles and reverence for Obamacare) touting his centerpiece legislation as a “no-brainer” that, presumably, no one with a brain could oppose.
In recent days, both NBC News and the Washington Post have conveyed that Obama lied, repeatedly and egregiously, to the American people when he said, “If you like your health-care plan, you can keep your health-care plan.” In yesterday’s speech, Obama disingenuously suggested that insurers’ recent cancellations of an abundance of plans have nothing to do with Obamacare. Never mind that, in many cases (namely, when plans don’t meet Obamacare’s expansive mandated-coverage requirements or its narrow grandfathering requirements), Obamacare has outright banned these plans. As Obama put it, “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.”
Obama then quickly moved on to modifying that promise, however, saying that “nobody is losing their right to health-care coverage.” (That’s a far cry from, “If you like your health-care plan, you can keep your health-care plan.”) He then said, “For the vast majority of people who have health insurance that works, you can keep it” (italics added). So if your plan “works,” you can (probably) keep it. In other words, if Obama likes your health-care plan, you can keep your health-care plan.
Obama also claimed that “employers with more than 50 employees are required to either provide health insurance to their workers or pay a penalty—again, because they shouldn’t just dump off those costs onto the rest of us.” He made no mention of the fact that he has lawlessly delayed that requirement for next year; that he threatened to veto House legislation (which passed with the support of 35 Democrats) that aimed to provide legal support for that delay; and that he said he didn’t care what Congress thought of his law-changing because (as he told the New York Times), “If Congress thinks that what I’ve done is inappropriate or wrong in some fashion, they’re free to make that case. . . . But ultimately, I’m not concerned about their opinions—very few of them, by the way, are lawyers, much less constitutional lawyers.” Elsewhere in his speech, Obama also declared (for the benefit of the truly credulous) that Obamacare “will actually help lower the deficit.” And he added that the debate over Obamacare “has never been about right or left.”
As Charles Kesler puts it,
The more one ponders [Obama’s] electoral, policy, and longer political agenda, the more the health care bill stands out as the centerpiece of the whole political enterprise. Stop it . . . and you have a good chance of stopping the transformation he seeks. Fail . . . and you permit what can be called, without exaggeration, gradual regime change at home. For the health care question involves . . . nothing less than the form of government and the habits and character of the American people.
Obamacare will decide Obama’s legacy. Depending upon what happens over the next three and a half years with his signature legislation, he will either be known as the man who entrenched the progressive commitment to big government, or discredited it.
— Jeffrey H. Anderson is executive director of the newly formed 2017 Project, which is working to advance a conservative reform agenda.