Tags: Tom Coburn

Oregon: Relax! We Only Wasted $3.5 Million on Silly Ads!


Some days, you’re just ridiculous, PolitiFact.

Here’s the statement they’re fact-checking:

“Oregon is spending $10 million advertising Obamacare with ads that don’t even mention the program and how to enroll in it” and that don’t “mention the word ‘insurance.’”

Here’s one of the ads, so you can judge for yourself:

Here’s another:

And here’s another:

If you don’t feel like watching any of the musical ads, none use the term “insurance” and mostly say “live long” or “be healthy.” In the closing seconds, the commercials show a URL and phone number, but that’s stretching the definition of “how to enroll in it” — particularly when the commercial looks like it could be for Oregon tourism, announcing some band’s new album, or promoting a mildly hallucinogenic drug.

PolitiFact offers a lengthy history of the Oregon ads. But the two key sentences are:

Coburn is correct that it’s not there. But Ray adds important context in noting that the ads were early and part of a campaign designed to morph from general to specific.

The intent of the ads doesn’t make Coburn’s statement that they don’t mention insurance any less accurate.

PolitiFact also disputes the $10 million figure, arguing that the television ads were only $3.5 million; separate funds were spent on other costs, including “Spanish-language spots, information fliers and fact sheets.” This is a fairer gripe, but it’s not much of a defense of CoverOregon; instead of wasting $10 million on ads that look like music videos or 1960s Saturday morning cartoons, they wasted $3.5 million.

Naturally, PolitiFact rates Coburn’s statement “mostly false.”

Tags: Oregon , Obamacare , Tom Coburn , PolitiFact

Designed to Fail or Not, the Outlook for Obamacare Is Grim


Quite a few folks — including Senators Harry Reid and Tom Coburn — believe Obamacare was “designed to fail,” that the system will prove so unworkable that within a few years, there will be wide public support for single-payer system, where all health care costs are paid for by the government.

There’s one flaw in this theory: The whole messy contraption of the Affordable Care Act has Obama’s name on it. And I’m not so sure Obama wants his name to forever be associated with a malfunctioning, care-denying failure that ruined health care for millions of Americans.

The “designed to fail” theory seems to be overthinking it. Obama, Kathleen Sebelius, and his crew thought they could make this work, and successfullly manage the overhaul of one-sixth of the nation’s economy, implementing a system of new taxes, new exchanges, new required coverage, subsidized premiums, penalties for not purchasing insurance, penalties for “Cadillac coverage” plans, elimination of low-cost catastropic-care options, thousands of “navigators” handling people’s personal health information, new incentives to move workers to part-time, new incentives to limit the number of workers at a business . . . and now we’re starting to see the parts fly off.

From today’s Morning Jolt:

Is Obamacare Doomed to Collapse No Matter What Congress Does?

Either everything we’re hearing about Obamacare from the people implementing it is wrong, or it’s going to be an unmanageable disaster. We may someday look back and think Ted Cruz and his like-minded Republicans worked tooth and nail to save Democrats from one of their biggest policy mistakes in decades.

Dan Henninger:

Fear of ObamaCare is growing because a cascade of news suggests that ObamaCare is an impending catastrophe.

Big labor unions and smaller franchise restaurant owners want out. UPS dropped coverage for employed spouses. Corporations such as Walgreens and IBM are transferring employees or retirees into private insurance exchanges. Because of ObamaCare, the Cleveland Clinic has announced early retirements for staff and possible layoffs. The federal government this week made public its estimate of premium costs for the federal health-care exchanges. It is a morass, revealing the law’s underappreciated operational complexity.

But ObamaCare’s Achilles’ heel is technology. The software glitches are going to drive people insane.

Creating really large software for institutions is hard. Creating big software that can communicate across unrelated institutions is unimaginably hard. ObamaCare’s software has to communicate — accurately — across a mind-boggling array of institutions: HHS, the IRS, Medicare, the state-run exchanges, and a whole galaxy of private insurers’ and employers’ software systems.

Recalling Rep. Thomas’s 1999 remark about Medicare setting prices for 3,000 counties, there is already mispricing of ObamaCare’s insurance policies inside the exchanges set up in the states.

The odds of ObamaCare’s eventual self-collapse look stronger every day. After that happens, then what? Try truly universal health insurance? Not bloody likely if the aghast U.S. public has any say.


The D.C. exchange was promoted by the media as ahead of the curve relative to other exchanges, and yet they still couldn’t get the subsidies calculations right in time for launch day — with three years to prepare. If that’s the shape that a comparatively well-run exchange was in, when would the more poorly-run exchanges start postponing elements of the rollout? Well, here you go. It took less than 24 hours.

Exit question: At this point, would the White House rather meet Boehner’s demand for a one-year delay of all of ObamaCare or Manchin’s demand for a one-year delay of the individual mandate specifically? I think there’s more political risk to the latter than the former, no? If you delay the whole law, you buy yourself time to work out all the bugs before trying again at a rollout next year. It’ll be hugely embarrassing to the White House to postpone things when they’re this close to launch, and there are doubtless lots of congressional Democrats who don’t want O-Care becoming a key issue right before the midterms, but that’s survivable. What’s potentially not survivable is rolling out the exchanges now minus the individual mandate, which means lots of young adults will face no legal compulsion to buy in. If (as Bill Clinton noted two days ago) healthy uninsured people refuse to fork over their money, then insurers suddenly don’t have a pool of revenue to cover all the people with preexisting conditions who are signing up, and then the whole scheme starts to collapse. There’ll be no delays after that; if insurers start crumbling, we’ll be in post-ObamaCare mode as a country. Better, then, to hit pause on the whole thing if you’re O to prevent that sort of collapse, right?

Tags: Obamacare , Harry Reid , Tom Coburn , Barack Obama

When Gingrich Tried, and Failed, to Intimidate Tom Coburn


On Twitter today, I’ve noted that Romney’s seeming squeamishness might make him less likely to sell out conservatives as president than Newt Gingrich. It’s far from the most inspiring rallying cry, but I conclude, “Romney’s fear of a revolt on the right will keep him in line in ways that Gingrich’s ego would never allow.”

The perception of Newt Gingrich as much quicker to compromise conservative principles than to ever admit a mistake comes heavily from Sen. Tom Coburn’s 2003 book Breach of Trust, which discusses his years in the House under Gingrich as Speaker, and paints a picture of Gingrich as a raging egomaniac, wildly hypocritical and quick to toss Class of 1994 principles.

Coburn offers this easily forgotten, but quite revealing, anecdote about a fight over increasing funding for House committees. The following is from Breach of Trust, pp. 73–76:

Leadership said the increase was necessary to give Dan Burton (R-Indiana), chairman of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee, the extra money he needed to continue his investigation into the White House’s campaign abuses. They also talked about how important oversight is and how the little we spend on oversight saves the taxpayers billions. This argument wasn’t terribly persuasive. First, oversight is a good investment only if the majority party has the political will to cut waste from the budget, which we weren’t doing. Second we knew the real need that triggered this spending binge had more to do with partisan politics than doing the hard work of scouring federal agencies for fraud and waste. Gingrich was convinced he could make political hay out of someone else’s miscues and became focused on Clinton rather than the job we promised the country we would do. Burton’s investigation into the White House campaign abuses was an appropriate, necessary, and essential function of his committee. Yet it was the right policy that was being pursued for the wrong reasons. Leadership was so obsessed with the political dimension of Burton’s investigation they lacked the focus and discipline to make an exception to increase spending for Burton alone while slamming the vault door on other chairmen . . .

The rule failed 210 to 213 . . . A few minutes later, the whip’s office announced a mandatory meeting of the conference at 7 p.m. A few of us met in [Lindsey] Graham’s office before the meeting to prepare ourselves for what we expected to be the ultimate woodshed experience. After a short pep rally, we walked over to HC-5, the room where Republicans and Democrats hold their caucuses.

When we filed in, it was immediately obvious that Newt Gingrich was furious. The meeting began with a roll call, and Gingrich said every Republican would be meeting in HC-5 in the basement of the Capitol even if he had to send the sergeant at arms — the police — to track members down…

When Gingrich said, “The eleven geniuses who thought they knew more than the rest of the Congress are going to come up and explain their votes,” someone leaned over to [then-Rep.] Mark Sanford and said, “I have never heard of anyone having to explain their vote.” Gingrich continued, “Those of you who had planned to go to John Kasich’s wedding on Saturday are not going. No one is going anywhere until we get the votes we need to pass this rule.”

. . . [Steve] Largent, an NFL Hall of Famer, went straight to the podium after [Dick] Armey finished speaking. A surprised Boehner recognized him. “Mr. Speaker,” Largent said calmly and directly to Gingrich who was no more than ten feet away, “I am not intimidated. I have been in rooms much smaller than this one when I was on the opposite side of teammates during a player’s strike against the NFL. The guys in those rooms weighed 280, 320 pounds and not only wanted to kill me, if they had gotten hold of me they probably could have. This isn’t the case here tonight. More seriously, I am not intimidated because I feel good about this vote and the principles behind it . . . if, as a matter of conscience, I believe a vote is in the best interest of the American taxpayer I represent back home, well, then I just have to vote that way.” . . .

“Many of us were elected in 1994, and before that election we signed a document called the Contract with America. One of its pledges was to cut Washington committee funding by one third. We kept our word and did just that. Yet this proposal would reverse that cut. We owe it to those same folks to whom we pledged our word to either keep it, or go back to them and say, we’re new to the business of government. We cut too much and need to change our committee staffing numbers. Whatever we do, we shouldn’t do what was proposed today, which typified the Washington way of doing business so many came here to change — take credit for cutting by a third and then below the radar screen quietly add back the spending.” . . .

Then I got up and said, “I’m just a doctor from Oklahoma. I admit I’m not much of a politician, but I know the difference between right and wrong. When you tell people you’re going to lead by example, then turn around and increase our own budgets, but ask them to make cuts, you lose all credibility. Maybe I don’t belong in the Republican conference, Mr. Speaker.”

Every one of the eleven members who voted against the rule said something and no one backed down or apologized for their vote. We believed we were doing the right thing, leaving no place for apologies. Gingrich’s tactic backfired. He thought he could embarrass and intimidate us, but not one person was intimidated . . .

The event exposed a more disturbing trend that we all understood but weren’t ready to accept: the Republican “team” was no longer being held together by principles but by careerism and the desire for power for its own sake . . . Gingrich’s vitriolic response to us bringing down the rule for the bill confirmed to us he was willing to trade our principles for short term political advantage over the Democrats.

Newt Gingrich, the conservative alternative.

Tags: Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Tom Coburn

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