President Obama’s aides debated his now infamous “if you like your insurance plan you can keep it” line, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Advisers discussed whether it was a promise that could be kept and even considered having the president add some nuance in media interviews. But they decided that the president should be sweeping and emphatic, or, as one former official put it, talk “in broad, intelligible points that cut through.” But aides were divided:
One former senior administration official said that as the law was being crafted by the White House and lawmakers, some White House policy advisers objected to the breadth of Mr. Obama’s “keep your plan” promise. They were overruled by political aides, the former official said. The White House said it was unaware of the objections.
Some aides believed that the (inadequate) grandfather clause was enough to make Obama’s assurance true enough, but the White House clearly didn’t want to confuse people with the full story of the disruptions that would occur under the law. “Simplification and ease of explanation were a premium, and that was true throughout the process,” former speechwriter Jon Favreau told the paper. The Journal writes:
Richard Kirsch, the former national campaign manager of Health Care for America Now, which pushed for the 2010 health law, said the words were reassuring—and true—for the vast majority of the people, and so his group never raised concerns about that claim. Adding an asterisk to note that people who had “shoddy insurance” might need to change plans was not practical, he said.
If there was any doubt that the “keep your insurance” line was a deliberate deception for political reasons, the Journal report removes it.