12 Nov 2013

Clarifying Michael Cohen’s Outrageous Apology for Obama

David R. Henderson, Health Legislation 19 Comments

David R. Henderson links to a simply astonishing piece by Michael Cohen, trying to do damage control for Obama. Some excerpts:

In selling the health-care plan that bears his name, President Obama has, according to the fact-checking website Politifact, said at least 34 times that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” That statement was not completely true, and it’s a lie that is today causing the President no end of political headaches.

Still, before we fully castigate the President for his rhetorical flights of fancy, it’s important to keep in mind that Obama was — to a large degree — telling Americans what they wanted to hear. In fact, he was giving them the type of comforting assurances they insist upon getting before backing any major policy change from Washington.

Americans regularly express dissatisfaction with the status quo and demand political change. But at the same time, they recoil at any reform that affects them directly.

…For those who buy insurance on the individual market, the story is quite different. With high premiums, higher deductibles and poor benefit options, these plans often could barely be considered insurance — and weren’t available to those with preexisting conditions. That these Americans would not be able to keep their plans was not a bug of Obamacare; it was the point.

So accuse Obama of lying about health-care reform — but understand the simple underlying reality: we can’t handle the truth.

Note, the parts I put in bold were just to underscore how slippery Cohen himself is. (Imagine that: A plan in which you are responsible for routine medical expenses, but the insurer picks up really large expenses, can “barely be considered insurance.”) You can see his overall theme pretty quickly.

Now in his commentary, David makes it sound as if Cohen endorsed the lying in order to get his (Cohen’s) way. But it’s a little subtler than that. Cohen is saying that the outcome is our way; we all wanted Obama to give us ObamaCare, it’s just we’re too fickle to choose it like adults.

If you don’t believe me, look, Jack Nicholson himself says it too:

See? If it were a matter of, “I know you don’t want me on that wall, but I’m going to do it anyway and then cover it up,” why, that would be immoral. Everyone knows that, even the Simpsons writers.

But see, we live in a much more nuanced world. We want him on that wall, so that’s why he thinks it’s OK to do what he does.

And it’s how Cohen convinces himself that Obama’s blatant lie–not a rhetorical flight of fancy–is justified.

19 Responses to “Clarifying Michael Cohen’s Outrageous Apology for Obama”

  1. Silas Barta says:

    Wow, I think this part is actually the most significant:

    Imagine that: A plan in which you are responsible for routine medical expenses, but the insurer picks up really large expenses, can “barely be considered insurance.”

    So a canonical example of what real insurance would look like, can now “barely be considered insurance”.

    I know it’s been happening all along, but I think this passes a major threshold in government redefinition of a common term.

    • Matt Tanous says:

      It’s not insurance if it doesn’t cover my hysterectomy, either. And yes, I have no womb to remove. But hey, it’s COVERED!

      • peter says:

        I’m going to start abusing drugs, just so I can take advantage of the free counseling benefit…

  2. Major_Freedom says:

    It’s comforting to know that Machiavellianism is alive and well in the Obama camp.

    Makes it easier to explain to little Billy why his dreams of hope and change got crushed.

  3. Major_Freedom says:

    Henderson nails it:

    “A good test of Cohen’s approach is to take it out of politics and apply it to our lives, say, buying something from a merchant. I recently had my house re-roofed. Imagine the following conversation before I signed the contract:
    Roofer: My bid on this is $10,000.
    Me: Really? That’s great. I’ve been talking to other roofers and they’re quoting me prices of $14,000 to $16,000. Why is yours so much lower?
    Roofer: Because we use a special material that’s cheaper but just as high-quality and we pay our workers 15 percent below the competition, but they’re first-rate workers who like working for me so much that they’re willing to work for that much less.

    Then fast forward to when the roof is done, and, with the first rain of the season, it leaks. I call up the roofer to confront him:
    Me: You told me that the tiles would be just as high-quality. They don’t seem to be. And I notice some of the tiles weren’t nailed on correctly. That looks like shoddy workmanship to me.
    Roofer: Well, I lied, but please don’t castigate me. I was telling you what you wanted to hear. I could see that you needed comforting assurance before you hired me. I just sensed that you couldn’t handle the truth.”

    I can’t wait for the Krugman types to declare that this comparison is a bad one, because “government is not like a household”.


    • joe z says:

      What’s worse is that “the roofer” in this situation promises to do the job for $10,000, but if you read the fine print on many of his contracts it actually says that you have to pay him $20,000.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        Then he isn’t promising to do the job for $10,000.

        • joe z says:

          I was trying to say that the roofer was verbally promising a number that is much lower than the actual number “promised” in the contract. Of course, not reading the contract before signing it would be the fault of the homeowner here, whereas with the healthcare situation, there isn’t really a way for the average uninsured layman to know for sure if the verbal cost promises of the “…Affordable Care Act ” will be in accordance with the actual costs of the insurance plans he must choose from, so if he supported the ACA because of the promise (“signed the contract”, so to speak), you could really only accuse him of being credulous and not careless.

          The roofer is, in my opinion, less devious than the “Affordable Care Act” and its promises. He is still a bit of a crook, though.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            Well, I would say you’re not talking about “fine print” then, but rather you’re talking about outright fraud where the roofer’s verbal price contradicts the price on the document.

  4. Ken B says:

    Wow, I wish I had read this when I was 30. “I’ve had a vasectomy and an AIDS test.”

  5. Matt Tanous says:

    We live in a world where someone can go to the doctor for a problem, and the doctor requires an STD test. Never mind that the same problem existed two weeks, and the test then was negative, or that the patient is not only not sexually active, but never has been. Because it’s clearly a lie. Charge them $50 for the tests anyway!

    Really, my question is why do people WANT insurance. Not like doctors do something WebMD and a forged prescription pad can’t do.

  6. skylien says:

    Saint Just and Robespierre would be proud of Cohan.

  7. peter says:

    In the the used car world, it’s called bait and switch.
    It seems to be the modus operandi of Obama, and really, of government in general.
    The whole “pledging an oath to the constitution” is a big bait ‘n switch operation.

    The whole reason to kick people off the “crappy” plans by force is because they know the new plans are even crappier and more costly. If the exchanges offered better deals, one would think people would have no issue to voluntarily switch. Indeed, this may have been the original intent, but it’s becoming clear now that this is not the case. They knew fairly early on that the new plans were more expensive and offered fewer benefits in the areas that people wanted. Whereas every industry is moving away from one size fits all products and services, including insurance, government is pushing health care back into the opposite direction. This is a slow moving train wreck, and I can’t keep my eyes away from it.
    It’s a Keynesian approach to solving the problem, and therefore doomed to fail.

  8. Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

    Unfortunately, I think the guy has a point here. I think there are large numbers of Americans who really DO want to be lied to by their politicians. That’s why we have “social security insurance” and not the “tax poor young people and give it to rich old people law.” That’s why Republicans who run on a platform of increasing the Pentagon’s budget always refer to “fulfilling the promises we made to our veterans” and not “blowing up more villages in Yemen.”

    If people actually voted based on what they claim to want, we’d have a radically different government than we have now. So yes, I buy that there are plenty of people out there who REALLY DO want Obama on that wall. They want socialized medicine, because it makes them feel good. But they’re concerned about the objections of their libertarian friends, so they want someone with some credibility (supposedly the President of the United States is beyond reproach and would never blatantly lie to us, right?) to give them a justification for it.

  9. Bob Roddis says:

    I had an individual plan since 2007 which started at $122 per month. This year it was up to $195 per month* and always had a $5000 annual deductible. Blue Cross told me that my old plan was being scrapped due to the new law and that I needed to sign up for a new plan by December 1. My new plan costs $255 per month and has a $13,000 annual deductible. I’m sure glad Obama got rid of those old crappy plans which used to cost so much money.


    • Major_Freedom says:

      I notice that almost every time stories like yours are mentioned to an Obamacare supporter, they make a point of things to mention that there are others whose premiums and deductibles are going down.

      My question is do we have any hard data on just how many are going to pay more, versus those who are going to pay less?

  10. Bob Roddis says:

    Officials at one one of the nation’s oldest and most elite historically black colleges are citing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as the reason they have cancelled a school-wide affordable health care plan they had offered students.


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