President's word games on Obamacare backfire on him: They prove his lies

My jaw dropped when I watched on live TV as President Obama played dumb to the media last Thursday. Photo: AP

WASHINGTON, November 20, 2013 — President Barack Obama’s evasive ways are backfiring on him. They only confirm how he lied to America and committed fraud to promote Obamacare.

A favorite Obama ploy is trying to evade responsibility for scandals by playing dumb. He’s not denying he said things that turned out to be false; he’s claiming he didn’t realize they were false. So much for being the smartest guy in the room!


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But it’s fraud not only to make claims you know are false, but also to make claims in disregard of whether they’re true. When people rely on your word, you have a duty to keep quiet if you didn’t verify the facts first.

Courts don’t let people get away with pulling an Obama. False statements that cause damage can’t be excused by later claiming they were made unwittingly, such as Obama’s oft-repeated claim, “If you like your current health insurance, you can keep it.”

Incredibly, the White House Press Corps last week let the President get away with asserting that  he made that statement repeatedly without realizing it would prove to be false.

Obama also told the gullible White House media that he was surprised when the healthcare.gov website failed. His defense? Did anyone “think I’m stupid enough” to brag about the site if he’d known it had problems? Stupid? No. Brazen? Yes. This week we learn he indeed knew for months about the website woes, yet he still told the country it would be like Amazon.com.


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My jaw dropped when I watched on live TV as President Obama played dumb to the media last Thursday. A jury would have been gasping at the audacity. A halfway-decent lawyer would have moved in for the kill. The overpaid reporters just sat there, sympathizing with Obama’s sob story defense that “I didn’t know my words weren’t true.”

Obama had ample time to prepare the strongest possible explanation for his years of lies. And this was the best he could do?

There on TV, Obama admitted he didn’t check any facts before repeating his promises about  keeping health insurance. That made his words fraud as well as lies. His justification was that he “assumed” that Obamacare would be such a great deal that people would not want to keep their old insurance. He made it sound as bad as wanting to keep your dirty, smelly, full-of-holes old underwear.

Assuming and not checking facts was another way of saying that Obama was just guessing his promises would come true:

 “My working assumption was that the majority of those folks would find better policies at lower costs or the same costs in the marketplaces, and that the universe of folks who potentially would not find a better deal in the marketplaces, the grandfather clause would work sufficiently for them.”

He had zero knowledge of the comparative costs of Obamacare policies versus other insurance. Once the Administration developed those numbers, they hid them as long as they could, because mandating extra benefits will naturally create extra costs. Obamacare policies on average are 99% higher for men and 62% higher for women. That’s sticker shock for everyone else; only for Obama is it “lower than expected.”

Any honest prediction would never have “assumed” people would want to pay such exorbitant increases, even if they could afford them. Obama lied easily and casually about people keeping their policies. If he were in business rather than politics, he could be sued for damages and prosecuted criminally for fraud.

Obama’s deceptive claims also tried to conceal his knowledge and his role in the healthcare.gov fiasco. The personal connections could extend well beyond college ties between the key vendor and the First Lady. Certainly the President was not a disengaged bystander as he pretends. At his press event, Obama disavowed any advance warning of the website’s woes, claiming he didn’t know “directly” about the problems. But in the week since, we’ve learned the President learned of major website problems last spring.

Tuesday, spokesman Jay Carney was forced to admit that Obama had direct knowledge of the severity months ago, through a special White House-commissioned review made by McKinsey & Co. which noted risks including a flawed design process. Carney now admits, “The President received regular briefings on various aspects of implementing the ACA [Affordable Care Act], including the recommendations from this review and the steps that CMS, HHS and others had taken to address those recommendations.” Carney refused to give further details.

A steady stream of contradictions keeps unfolding since Thursday, undercutting those still-fresh personal assurances from Obama. So far, these include:

  • The repairs to healthcare.gov look unlikely to be completed by Nov. 30.
  • Despite over $600-million spent on the site, its maximum capacity will still leave it incapable of handling 20% of those who try to use it. That contradicts Obama’s claim that the site would be as simple to use as buying an airplane ticket or a television online
  • A congressional committee was told Tuesday that 30 to 40% of the website’s technical infrastructure has yet to be built, including the parts that would make payments to insurance carriers. (This 30-40% is in addition to the massive portions needing re-coding.)
  • The site’s maximum capacity remains at no more than about 25,000 users
  • The state of Oregon has still been unable to enroll a single person online

What’s next? Lots of truth-stretching words from a relentless White House propaganda machine, despite Obama’s incredible shrinking credibility.

Obama is back to blaming Republicans. Carney is blaming insurance companies. The President has mentioned re-branding and re-marketing. Democrats are already backing off use of “Obamacare” and resorting to “Affordable Care Act,” even though it’s anything but affordable. Perhaps they’ll pay consultants to find a catchier name than Obamacare; maybe “Americare.”

An extra half-million of taxpayer money has been used to hire a lobbying firm for Obamacare, spreading “success stories.” But don’t expect them to mention Jessica Sanford, who Obama publicly praised as an Obamacare success last month when he publicly read a glowing thank you letter from her.

Since then Jessica received multiple letters advising her the government made mistakes in calculating her premiums, each letter raising those premiums higher. Her actual Obamacare cost, she says, is now so exorbitant that she’ll go without insurance and pay the penalty instead. Her son will go on Medicaid. Jessica says, “It feels very out of control.”

Jessica feels alone in her misery. But she is far from alone in her situation as the Affordable Care Act has made care more unaffordable for millions. Yet public officials can commit fraud and get away with it. While Americans lose money, lose insurance and lose security, all the politicians lose is popularity. To quote Obama, “That’s not fair.”

 


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More from Ernest Istook: Knowing the Inside
 
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Ernest Istook

Ernest Istook spent 25 years in public office, including 14 years in Congress. He was rated one of the top 25 conservatives in the U.S. House of Representatives. Then was a Heritage Foundation fellow and a fellow at Harvard's Insitute of Politics, where he led a study group on Propaganda in American Politics Today. 

Now as a radio host and a commentator, Ernest aims to expose Washington's gimmicks--to help you avoid the pitfalls. He brings clarity out of the confusion. 

Native to Texas, Ernest transplanted to Oklahoma after graduating from Baylor University.

Contact Ernest Istook

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