White House on honesty in the Age of Obama: "What difference does it make?"

As America learns how Obama lied about keeping our insurance & doctors under Obamacare, the White House claims it's okay because the lies serve a greater good. Photo: White House--Obama editing 2009 health care speech

WASHINGTON, November 4, 2013 — As Americans realize that President Barack Obama lied about Obamacare to get it enacted and to get himself re-elected, a White House counter-strategy has emerged.

They’re echoing Hillary Clinton’s words about Benghazi: “What difference does it make?”

SEE RELATED: Obamacare’s Falsehoods: Replace Obama’s teleprompter with a lie detector

But Obamacare makes a huge difference, a negative difference.

The White House claims the negatives are minor because “only” 10 to 12 million Americans with individual policies will lose their current insurance, and that these are dwarfed by a vast number who get government subsidies under Obamacare. But official numbers show 93-million people could lose their current coverage. That’s because many employer-based policies will also be cancelled as inadequate under Obamacare.

Until that next wave of bad news hits, Obama’s team is pushing the notion that presidential truth-telling doesn’t really matter. Only results count, they say, and Obamacare’s winners will outnumber its losers.

That’s another way of saying that honesty is now unimportant to too many politicians, too many in media, and too many voters.

SEE RELATED: Obamacare website, Hurricane Sandy: A study in Obama’s failure, lies

The White House has not abandoned its spin that Obama was truthful when he claimed we could keep insurance that we liked and keep doctors that we liked. But at the same time the White House is quietly promoting this alternate script:

  • The backup plan claims that even if there were lies (although not admitting any), these were noble and necessary. They were for the greater good, making health care available and affordable to the millions who get Obamacare subsidies and who qualify for the expanded Medicaid program.

  • Yes, it’s unfortunate that a lesser number of millions will pay more and must go through cancellation of coverage that they liked. And it’s especially unfortunate that it may lessen their faith in Obama’s heroic leadership. But that is the price of progress.

  • That troublesome website? Don’t worry; it will be fixed soon.

  • Those who scream about Obama’s quite-justified actions are radical extremists who cling to outmoded ways of thinking — typical Republican/Tea Party obstructionists. They are the ones who prevented Obama from giving us more details long ago, lest he be taken out of context had he offered those details.

That is the Left’s story and they will stick to it. It’s already being floated.

That explanation will never persuade the whole country, nor a majority of us. Cynically, the White House calculates that Obama doesn’t need a majority to prevail on Obamacare.

SEE RELATED: Will Obamacare leave any doctors in the house?

Obama has three more years on his term; he is immune from elections and immune from a super-majority action such as impeachment. So long as his Democrats control either house of Congress, he can govern by signing executive orders, using deferred prosecution, issuing you-can’t-stop-me federal regulations and other abuses. Although every House member faces voters next year, only one-third of Senators will be on the ballot. Unless Democrats lose more than 5 of the 20 Democrat-held Senate seats on next year’s ballot, he’s okay.

Although his poll numbers keep slipping, keeping Obamacare only requires that Obama maintain a minimum base. He loves comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln, so an adage attributed to Lincoln describes the situation:

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

Obama seems to have added an update:

You only have to fool a lot of the people, not all of them.

Now that very White House counter-strategy is in motion, to fool as many people as possible.

President Obama and White House spokesman Jay Carney have argued that the Obamacare-caused insurance cancellations are insignificant — first saying it’s less than 5 percent of us, and now toying with a 3 percent claim.

Obama team player David Axelrod echoed this on “Meet the Press,” saying only a “small number” of Americans will have to switch plans, but never mentioning the exorbitant costs they must pay. The website delay was the actual calamity, Axelrod said, because those who got cancellation notices were unable to instantly find out that they will be better off with a wonderful new Obamacare policy.

The Washington Post editorializes, “None of this is an outrage. It’s the predictable result of a defensible policy choice embedded in the reform.”

The New York Times gives a forgiving comment, “Mr. Obama clearly misspoke,” then calls the public outrage an “overblown controversy.” The Times buys into a claim that “most people will actually pay less next year.”

Others, writing at Huffington Post, claim Obama’s statements were “kind of” true.

The Democratic National Chairwoman, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fla., insists Obama didn’t lie, because she claims his statement was true for “the overwhelming majority” of Americans, even if not for 10 to 12 million people.

Other reactions are curious. HBO’s Bill Maher emphatically insists that Obama lied, but hints strongly that the lie was necessary because telling the truth would have made it impossible to pass the all-important Obamacare. By contrast, CNN’s Piers Morgan seems to care solely about whether Obama was honest, accepting no excuses for deviating.

This White House strategy relies on limiting large-scale policy cancellations to the individual policy market, not the larger employer-based group market.

That larger danger is on the horizon, however, according to the Administration’s projections published quietly in 2010 in the Federal Register, namely:

  • 40 percent to 67 percent of individual policies will lose grandfathered status by 2013;

  • 34 percent to 64 percent of large employer group plans (100 or more employees) will lose their grandfathered status by 2013: and

  • 49 percent to 80 percent of small employer group plans (three to 99 employees) will lose their grandfathered status by 2013.

As Avrik Roy wrote last week in Forbes, these losses would total 93 million people losing current coverage due to Obamacare. Anything approaching that could be catastrophic, far larger than the huge damage already caused by the cancellations of individual policy-holders.

Presumably the White House is working furiously but quietly, trying to prevent insurers from sending out a new wave of cancellation notices to employers. On the individual policies, it only took a minor policy change, such as a $5 change in co-pay, to destroy the “grandfathering” protection. So to “protect” consumers from a $5 fee they were hit with thousands in higher Obamacare premiums and deductibles. Might HHS now suddenly adjust its grandfathering provisions before they wreak similar havoc on company-sponsored plans?

Alternatively, President Obama would again blame the cancellations on “greedy” insurance companies.

Obama already is doing immeasurable damage to our values by undercutting America’s cherished icons of Presidential honesty: “Honest Abe”; “I cannot tell a lie” George Washington.

Bill Clinton shamed the nation with his “I did not have sex with that woman” statement. His deceit damaged a generation of young Americans. But he did not constantly repeat his lie on nationwide tours like Obama repeated his promise that we could keep our insurance and keep our doctors. Doing so did not cure all the damage, but at least Clinton ultimately admitted his lie and apologized.

President Obama, we’re waiting.

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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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