How about this for a deal: If I acknowledge that President Obama lied when he repeatedly stated that everyone who liked their health coverage could keep it, then all conservatives and denizens of Trollville have to acknowledge all the lies they have repeatedly concocted about Obamacare these last four years.
I’ll go first. I have no problem saying that Obama lied. Many health reform supporters have opted for euphemisms – he “misled,” he “misspoke,” he “over-promised” – but the administration reportedly knew that a small percentage of Americans (in aggregate numbers, a few million) would lose the coverage they wanted to keep, precisely because their coverage didn’t meet the quality standards mandated by the reform law. So the decision was made to simplify Obama’s stump message – because if he dared to mention the caveats, the Republicans who were hell bent on stopping Obamacare would’ve pounced.
So, politically, he had a reason to lie. In the service of a noble cause (trying to put America’s health coverage policy on a par with the rest of the western world), he arguably felt it was strategically necessary to lie. But he did do it. And now he’s paying the price for it. A new national poll reports, for the first time, that a majority of Americans – 52 percent – view him as dishonest.
OK, fine. But now it’s time for his foes to ‘fess up as well. Time for them to acknowledge their own lies. For instance:
The lie about how Obamacare creates “government death panels.” (In truth, the law reimburses doctors for “end-of-life counseling sessions” – sessions that are already conducted daily in all 50 states.)
Or the lie about how Obamacare will read to the rationing of health care – in Paul Ryan’s words, “15 people on a board that will determine what kind of benefits people get. That’s a rationing board, however you slice it.” (In truth, the health reform law categorically states that the Independent Payment Advisory Board, tasked with slowing the growth of Medicare spending, “shall not include any recommendation to ration health care.”)
Or the lie about how people will be imprisoned for failing to sign up for health coverage under Obamacare; in the words of Fox News infauxtainment host Brian Kilmeade, a lot of young people will pay the noncompliance fine “in order to avoid prison time.” (According to the law, nobody is going to jail.)
Or the lie, circulated by conservative hero Dr. Ben Carson and fading Hollywood actress Suzanne Somers, that communist leader Vladimir Lenin foresaw Obamacare when he supposedly said, “Socialized medicine is the keystone to the arch of the socialist state.” (According to Lenin scholars, there isn’t a scintilla of evidence that Lenin ever said that.)
Or the lie, most recently articulated by Texas congresman Joe Barton, that Obamacare would require Americans to “waive any reasonable right to privacy of your personal information.” (In truth, it’s the opposite. The very fact that Americans no longer have to disclose pre-existing health conditions is proof that they’re now able to protect their right to privacy.)
Or the lie, recycled a lot last year by Mitt Romney, that Obamacare “adds trillions to our deficit and national debt.” (The nonpartisan Congresional Budget Office has concluded that Obamacare lowers the deficit by roughly $124 billion over 10 years.)
Or the lie about how Obamacare is a massive “job killer” – to wit, Ted Cruz’s recent lament about “the enormous harms Obamacare is causing, all of the millions of Americans who are losing their jobs, being pushed into part-time work.” (Cruz is not an empirical-evidence kind of guy, which may explain why he has no statistics proving that Obamacare has cost “millions of Americans” their jobs. For what it’s worth, the private sector has added jobs every month since Obamacare was signed into law.)
Or the lie about how Obamacare is a “sweetheart deal” for Capitol Hill lawmakers and staffers because, in the words of Texas congressman Jeb Hensarling, “members of Congress…are going to be the only people in America to get subsidies in the Obamacare exchanges.” (In truth, it’s the opposite. Millions of Americans with low incomes will qualify for subsidies. Lawmakers and staffers can’t qualify, because their incomes are too high.)
Or the lie about how Obamacare requires doctors to ask patients intrusive questions about their sex lives; in the words of ex-New York lieutenant governor Betsy McCaughey, “Are you sexually active? If so, with one partner, multiple partners or same-sex partners? Be prepared to answer those questions and more the next time you go to the doctor…And you can thank the Obama health law.” (She simply made that all up. Doctors may well continue to ask, “Are you sexually active?” – as medical schools have long taught them to do – but the reform law doesn’t require them to ask anything.)
That’s just a sampling, but, hey, conservatives and trolls have to start somewhere. I say that Obama lied, so now it’s time for you folks to cop to your lies.
Funny, I can’t hear you…Are you there?…Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?
Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1