Politics & Policy

Obamacare-Speak

The Obama administration is altering its language like there’s no tomorrow.

The Obama administration once gave us “man-caused disasters” for acts of terrorism and “workplace violence” for the Fort Hood shootings. Now it has trumped those past linguistic contortions by changing words to mask the Obamacare disaster.

The president and his advisers apparently knew long ago that millions of the insured would face cancellations or premium hikes once Obamacare was fully implemented. Yet to get the 906-page bill passed, they had to convince the public of the very opposite scenario. So they repeated ironclad guarantees that no one would lose their coverage or doctors — “period!”  

Now the administration explains the deception by going after both the ethics of the insurers and the intelligence of the previously insured. That task required language to be altered. The newly canceled health plans are suddenly rebranded by the administration as “subpar.” Only in autumn 2013 is the supposedly unaware public told that, years ago, “bad apple” insurance companies sold them “substandard” plans.

According to Obama, millions of Americans were once ignorant or uninformed, and thus will soon be pleased about their cancellations: “So the majority of folks will end up being better off. Of course, because the website’s not working right, they don’t necessarily know it.”

#ad#By that logic, the legions of Obama supporters who desperately sought and won exemptions from Obamacare are not “better off” now, but those stuck with it will be?

The president was not through reinventing history. If Obama spoke untruths on more than 20 occasions in selling Obamacare, he also made a post facto attempt to sneak a qualifier into his serial false promises: “What we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.”

But there is no record that Obama or his lieutenants had ever publicly said such a thing. The president’s attempt to airbrush history is similar to the commandments on the barn wall in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. One day the commandment “All animals are equal” mysteriously appears rewritten with a new qualifier beside it, as if it had been there all along: “All animals are equal — but some animals are more equal than others.”

The New York Times — which not long ago gave us the new term “white Hispanic,” to deemphasize the minority status of George Zimmerman in the Travyon Martin case — is also guilty of Obamacare-speak. The Times rebranded Obama’s untruths about Obamacare by simply declaring that Obama “clearly misspoke.” Does the Times think a real-estate agent “misspeaks” when he sells a two-bedroom house by falsely assuring that it is a three-bedroom home?

The administration has also downplayed the disaster by claiming that the more than 30 million who lost their coverage represent only “5 percent” of the insured. But even if that number is not far too low, try using that minority-percentage argument on issues like gay rights. If millions of gays represent only about 5 percent of the population, is federal policy that affects gays negatively not really that important?

A national website that has completely failed and for nearly two months denied millions of applicants the chance to sign up for health insurance is dubbed a mere “glitch.” Had the website been down for only a day or two, would that foul-up be called a “glitch-let”?

From the very beginning, Obamacare defied the laws of common sense and basic logic. Providing more coverage for more people cannot result in radical reductions in costs, as promised — unless a shopper normally can buy more and better groceries for cheaper prices. How logical was expecting indebted young people to voluntarily pay more for insurance they would rarely use in order to pay for others to use it a lot?

Not a single Republican congressman voted for Obamacare. Some skeptical Democrats had to be bought off with the promise of special deals. Pet businesses, unions, and congressional staffers were given exemptions not available to the public from coverage that was supposedly wonderful.

The freebie provisions of keeping kids on parental plans until they turn 26 and ensuring coverage for those with preexisting conditions were cynically frontloaded before the 2012 election — while the painful details and higher costs were backloaded after the president’s expected reelection.

An architect of the bill, Senator Max Baucus, called it a “train wreck.” Before full implementation, the Affordable Care Act became emblematic as the president’s “signature” achievement and thus had to be airbrushed as something successful and popular to cement Obama’s legacy.

To square that huge circle, words had to change their meanings to fabricate a reality that did not exist. 

So what takes away patients’ insurance and costs more was declared the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Keeping your existing plan was “substandard” coverage. And Obama had warned us all along that it might be canceled.

All that is now there on the barn wall.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His latest book is The Savior Generalspublished this spring by Bloomsbury Books. You can reach him by e-mailing author@victorhanson.com. © 2013 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Case for Trump.

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