What positive steps can we take? The energy that is now expended by well intentioned, freedom-seeking individuals on the destructive course of politics can be turned into powerful steps that will have a positive effect on the future. All are moral, right and just. None require aggressing. Consider the following...
The Affordable Care Act creates a new health insurance marketplace (the exchange). But because of the great uncertainty about what buyers will enter the market and who will buy what product, the law creates three vehicles to reduce insurance company risk.
Politicians and bureaucrats are notorious for manufacturing euphemisms -- clever but deceptive substitutes for what they really mean but don’t want to admit. That’s how the phrase “revenue enhancement” entered the vocabulary. Some of our courageous friends in government couldn’t bring themselves to say “tax hike.”
“It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future,” says a proverb often attributed to Yogi Berra. Imagine the world of freedom, or lack of it. Who could foresee the technologies that make our lives so rewarding and convenient? The same technologies have us all under the government’s giant microscope. Thankfully, the brave have turned the microscope around.
In the months since Edward Snowden revealed the nature and extent of the spying that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been perpetrating upon Americans and foreigners, some of the NSA's most troublesome behavior has not been a part of the public debate.
National Treasury Union President Colleen M. Kelly recently described the 2014 IRS budget allocation as “woefully inadequate.” But the agency has not proven itself to be an efficient steward of taxpayer dollars. Here are ten ways the IRS lost the trust of the American people.
It’s easy to be negative about the U.S. economy these days. Find a glint of silver, and folks come running to point out all of the dark clouds looming about. This, of course, is what we got last week when the monthly jobs report was released from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Folks pooh-poohed the number of jobs and whining that they’re not enough or that it’s less than a bunch of economists thought that it might be. But you know what? Stuff ’em.
Given how poorly states like California and Illinois have funded the pension funds for their own employees, one would think that this would stop dead in its tracks any plan to have the government assist in managing private sector funds too. The spate of recent activity, however, suggests otherwise.
Facts are easy. You can check facts. What supporters of the Affordable Care Act are doing, on the other hand, transcends factual bungling. It’s far more advanced: a warping of reality so debauched it looks like something out of a tale by H.P. Lovecraft.
The problem for NSA apologist is that when guys like Snowden disclose that the government conducts comprehensive surveillance in ways that would have made 1984’s O’Brien drool, it puts the entire progressive agenda in jeopardy.
The east coast and parts of the southern U.S. were to varying degrees paralyzed by blizzards a few weeks ago. The snow as expected rendered the roads treacherous, and in anticipation of slick streets, shoppers flocked to the grocery stores in advance.The rush into grocery stores, and its aftermath, offers worthwhile lessons in economics.First up, […]
The financial world is plodding along like a drunken sailor avoiding debt collectors by keeping no cash in his wallet. It’s not the kind of calm that’s going to last or end well. But the storm will have to wait until after the Olympics.What a game! We’ve never watched ice hockey closely before. But watching […]
“When they come for my gun, they will have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands,” is a common refrain I often hear from the Neo-Cons when there is a threat, credible or otherwise, that the U.S. government is going to take their firearms.And, when I hear this crazy talk, I agree with […]
The highest form of charity, argued the 12th-century Jewish philosopher Maimonides, is when the help given enables the receiver to become self-sufficient.But our systems of state charity — aka welfare — have too frequently had the opposite effect: They have actually created dependency. It is time to rethink the way we help people.I’m going to […]
In times of war and national emergency, it’s sometimes necessary to sacrifice civil liberties to secure vital gains in public safety. In those cases, we may have to accept a loss of privacy or freedom rather than invite mass slaughter of Americans.The National Security Agency’s domestic phone records collection is not one of those.Never have […]
President Obama crowed in his State of the Union speech about the economy, even mentioning “a rebounding housing market.” Maybe he was referring to friends in high places, like the seller of Penthouse One in New York, which just closed for $50.9 million, all cash. Millions of mere-mortal homeowners likely wanted to throw something at […]
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is acting in a bipartisan way to cover up the biggest single threat to the bipartisan political alliance that is stripping America of its wealth: the United States Congress.There is no question that the following policy is bipartisan. Democrats and Republicans in Congress are completely agreed that the following information […]
Recent difficulties with implementing the Affordable Care Act have increased opposition to the program. A majority of Americans now oppose it. Problems with the HealthCare.gov website are in all likelihood temporary. However, there are serious long-term problems, particularly considering long-term finance and labor supply issues. Given the mounting difficulties with and growing concerns about the […]
Amidst all the revelations about how the American people, many of whom are absolutely convinced they live in a free society, have their telephone calls, emails, website visits, and who knows what else under surveillance by their own government, let’s not forget the massive infringements on financial privacy that have gone on for decades.Consider, for […]
Image: ShutterstockBitInstant CEO Charlie Shrem, along with alleged co-conspirator Robert Faiella, was arrested by federal authorities last week for allegedly laundering more than $1 million worth of Bitcoins. This is a tiny amount compared to the largest drug-and-terrorism money laundering case ever. Yet when British bank HSBC was found guilty in 2012 of laundering billions, […]
Do you trust your doctor? Most patients assume their doctor is working in their best medical interests whenever he or she orders a diagnostic test or recommends a particular treatment. Customers might wonder whether an unscrupulous auto mechanic is being truthful when he recommends a brake job or a new transmission. But most patients trust […]
The exercise had an awesome name, inspired by the movies: “Quantum Dawn 2.”On July 18, scads of U.S. banks, stock exchanges and government agencies took part in a digital fire drill — a practice run in the event all of Wall Street came under massive cyberattack.This isn’t the first time banks have come under an […]
The faces of the Detroit bankruptcy are the thousands of pensioners whose promised benefits are suddenly part of the restructure negotiation. When Motown filed for Chapter 9 last July, the city had $11.5 billion in unsecured liabilities. The vast majority of this was pension and health care benefits owed to retired city employees.The images of […]
So you’ve maneuvered the Obamacare website, plugged in your top-secret information and found out how much you are forced to pay to avoid a fine.And for some of you, it turns out you qualify for a government subsidy — making the premium sound like a bargain. But signing on that line to accept the government’s […]
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”As the inequality gap grows, there is an ideological battle unfolding in the West.On the one hand, there are those who think government can fix things. It must do more, tax more, […]
On Feb. 7 the United States will once again reach its statutory debt limit, meaning it cannot legally borrow any more money. Since the obvious option of cutting spending to match the amount of revenue that the government collects is off the table for some inexplicable reason, Congress will have to pass a new, higher […]
The New York Times published an interminable article on health care recently. Plenty of facts — how scrupulous are these journalists! — but the article displayed absolutely no comprehension of the basics of cause and effect. I was left wondering about the whole point.The article details how the health care system rewards specialists to an […]
Back in 2009, to accuse President Barack Obama of lying about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was to crawl onto a pretty lonely branch. In December of that year, when I leveled the charge in response to the president’s knowing mischaracterization of the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring of his signature piece of legislation, I was called “flagrantly dishonest” by none other than the (rightly respected) civil liberties blogger/reporter Glenn Greenwald.
As recently as November 2012 — more than two years after the administration published grandfathering regulations as part of its health care legislation, rendering ludicrous the president’s frequently repeated pledge that “if you like your health plan you can keep it” — much of the liberal commentariat was calling the electoral contest between Obama and Republican Mitt Romney a referendum on political honesty. The only way for truth to prevail, they argued, was to vote for the Democrat.
“We may find out whether a ‘post truth’ candidate can be elected president,” Washington Post Plum Line blogger Greg Sargent warned just before the election. “If there is one constant to this campaign, it’s that Romney has startled many observers by operating from the basic premise that there is literally no set of boundaries he needs to follow when it comes to the veracity of his assertions.”
One year later, as the mainstream press was filling up with blow-by-blow accounts of Obamacare’s brutally inept rollout and extravagantly broken promises, once-proud truth tellers like Sargent found themselves in the unintentionally comical position of downplaying the president’s mendacity. “The White House could have been clearer in laying the groundwork for this political argument: It wasn’t sufficient to say people who like their plans will be able to keep it, which is narrowly untrue,” Sargent wrote. Then he pivoted to the real culprits, declaring that “the GOP outrage about Americans supposedly ‘losing’ coverage is largely just more of the same old misdirection. It’s a subset of a larger Republican refusal to have an actual debate about the law’s trade-offs – one in which the law’s benefits for millions of Americans are also reckoned with in a serious way.”
Such euphemistic apologia and subject changing was common in October and November, as insurance cancellation letters flew into mailboxes by the hundreds of thousands. New York Times editorialist David Firestone, in a piece with the sneering headline “The Uproar Over Insurance ‘Cancellation’ Notices,” referred to Obama’s lie as “President Obama’s unfortunate blanket statement.” The paper’s editorial board averred that Obama “clearly misspoke,” then claimed the canceled policies were “not worth keeping.” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told reporters: “I don’t think the message was wrong. I think the message was accurate. It was not precise enough.”
On Oct. 30, the president himself attempted to shift the blame onto “bad-apple insurers,” and he suggested that the cancellations of what his administration was calling “junk” plans were affecting “fewer than 5% of Americans.” The day before, top presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett tweeted, “FACT: Nothing in #Obamacare forces people out of their health plans. No change is required unless insurance companies change existing plans.”
As late as Nov. 4, two days after The Wall Street Journal published a devastating account of how White House advisers had internally debated softening Obama’s absolute claim about being able to keep your health plan and doctor, the president was trying to wriggle off the hook by rewriting his own rhetorical history: “Now, if you had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.” Italics mine, to emphasize the lie about the lie.
By this time, even the president’s defenders were categorizing Obama’s falsehood as, at best, “a ‘noble lie’ in the Platonic sense of the term,” as Salon’s Brian Beutler put it on Nov. 7. But even at that late date, “the real lying liars” (in Beutler’s phrasing) were, of course, on the other side: “Noble lies have in many ways defined the debate over the Affordable Care Act, but the vast majority of them have been lies conservatives told in a failed effort to nix reform.”
All that pettifoggery was rendered moot on the evening of Nov. 7, when the president kinda-sorta apologized for misleading the country. NBC interviewer Chuck Todd asked Obama “Do you feel like you owe these folks an apology for misleading them?” The president, with much hemming and hawing within the ellipses, said this: “I regret very much that… we weren’t as clear as we needed to be in terms of the changes that were taking place… Even though it’s a small percentage of folks who may be disadvantaged, you know, it means a lot to them. And it’s scary to them. And I am sorry that they, you know, are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me.”
As Reason’s Peter Suderman pointed out at the time, the apology itself was not technically accurate. “People aren’t ‘finding themselves’ in ‘this situation’ — the situation of having insurance plans they liked canceled — because of Obama’s ‘assurances,” Suderman wrote at reason.com. “They are finding themselves in that situation because of legislation that his party crafted, rules his administration drafted, and a bill that he promoted vigorously and then signed into law. His assurances misled people about what would happen under that law, but did not cause the plans to be terminated.”
The estimated scores of millions of eventual health plan cancellations that Americans will soon face are not some weird unintended consequence of Obamacare. They are fundamental to making the law work as written. The Affordable Care Act relies on previously uninsured young people to overpay for coverage they don’t need, and for previously insured adults to pay for health contingencies they will never face, be it childbirth for men or pediatric dental care for grandparents. That is what is supposed to allow more people to be covered and to keep overall rates in check. Since making people’s health insurance more expensive is not particularly popular, Obama lied about it, and not only when he claimed you could keep your plan and your doctor.
In fact, the president promised at least 15 times while running for president in 2008 that his health insurance reform would reduce premiums by an average of $2,500 per family. In May 2009, he said the law would “end up saving $2 trillion,” leading to “lower premiums.” The White House blog in November 2009 featured such headlines as “Objective Analysis Shows Reform Will Help Small Businesses, Lower Premiums for American Families” and “CBO Confirms That Families Will Save Money Under Health Reform.”
As Suderman wrote in June 2013, there was “no mistaking the message that the Obama White House was selling to anyone who would listen: that premiums would go down, that benefits would go up, and that if premiums did happen to go up, it would only be as a result of an individual choice to buy more robust coverage.” What’s more, “This is the debate that even those relatively few Americans who follow wonky policy pundits were hearing — not one that emphasized trade-offs, but one that repeatedly emphasized that Obamacare would have mostly positive impacts on premiums, and that any negative impacts would be modest.”
For years, liberal commentators have accused conservatives of living in an intellectual “bubble” of their own creation, impervious to reality. But through official intent and intellectual laziness, Democrats have created a bubble of deception surrounding Obamacare that will affect millions of Americans for years to come. A lie this ignoble should stain the credibility of everyone who perpetuated it.
– Matt Welch
This article originally appeared here on Reason.com.