The true interpretation of Obama's health care promises

 Our president's broken promises are becoming an albatross around his neck but it's nothing a little spin can't fix.
Photo: AP

SAN DIEGO, November 6, 2013 — There are two explanations we can expect to hear soon from Obama:

1) His health care lies were not really lies.

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2) But if you still want to call them lies, remember the Republicans are the ones truly responsible.

Although Obama has not yet said “I did not lie” in so many words, he has come quite close. The groundwork has been laid. The spin has already begun.

Obama’s spokesperson, Dan Pfeiffer did an interview with ABC “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos on Sunday.

Pheiffer was asked about a Wall Street Journal report regarding a former senior administration official revealing that White House advisers voiced objection to Obama’s recurring guarantees that people can keep their insurance policies if they like them.

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Pheiffer’s explanation staggers the imagination: “But if the president were to allow people to have those [insurance] plans be downgraded, or insurance companies to keep selling bare-bones plans, he’d be violating an even more important promise to the American people, that everyone would have a guarantee to access of quality affordable health insurance…And many of these plans were cut-rate plans that didn’t cover hospitalization or doctor’s visits.”

In what must have been an uncomfortable, unfamiliar action for a main stream media Obama fan, Stephanopoulos actually did his job. He challenged Pheiffer by saying, “It still doesn’t meet the literal promise the president made.”

Pfeiffer replied with more double-talk: “Here’s the point, is that – is that if you had a plan before the Affordable Care Act passed, it hasn’t been changed or canceled, you can keep it.”

Obama’s own recent explanation did not make much more sense:

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“Now, if you have or 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…So we wrote into the Affordable Care Act, you’re grandfathered in on that plan. But if the insurance company changes it, then what we’re saying is they’ve got to change it to a higher standard….They’ve got to make it better, they’ve got to improve the quality of the plan they are selling. That’s part of the promise that we made too. That’s why we went out of our way to make sure that the law allowed for grandfathering.”

Of course, these special clauses and stipulations were not exactly forthcoming in the original promise:

Obama said quite clearly, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”

It’s time to offer President Obama our heart felt sympathy and full fledged support: Just imagine the energy and skilled verbal gymnastics involved with explaining to an entire population that he didn’t really say what we all heard him say.

As a merciful gesture, perhaps we should offer some alternative interpretations to help our president get out of this jam.

For starters, maybe the public is being too simplistic in its interpretation of the actual promise. Remember, this is the president of nuance.

Let’s examine his words more carefully:

“If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period.’”

On first glance, the word “period” implies, finality, no ifs ands, or buts. But remember, we are talking about health care. How could you forget that a period also refers to a woman’s time of the month? And when she doesn’t have a period, you know what that means, pregnancy, a condition that many women pay for and men (unfairly) don’t. Well, now under Obama Care, insurance plans are expected to offer the same kinds of coverage for everybody. Therefore, what President Obama clearly meant to suggest by invoking the term “period” is that you can keep your health care plan only if it conforms to new standards that do not make women pay for procedures that men are excused from. The fact that men don’t get pregnant is entirely beside the point.

As for keeping your doctor, sure he said that. But stop, breathe deeply, and take a second look. To the naked eye, the idea of keeping your doctor seems clear, but intelligent people will promptly look beneath the surface. Maybe people only THINK they like their doctors. Perhaps they don’t truly like them after all because doctors do not perform the kinds of procedures Obama wants them to perform. Americans are like children and a wise president knows what his children need even if they don’t.

Another thing: You may like your doctor but that doesn’t mean he likes you. And if you knew he didn’t like you, you wouldn’t like him either. Right? Since when have we liked people who do not like us?

Of course there is always the “Republican” defense. Perhaps Obama should come clean and admit that he did indeed tell a lie. Maybe it was the only way to shield Americans from those much bigger and nastier lies spun by Republicans. After all, they gave a plethora of warnings about health care that are not true.

For example, Republicans talked about “death panels.” The words “death panel” are no where to be found in the two-thousand page health care law. Oh sure, there are government panels which will decide what procedures you are allowed to have, but they aren’t actually called “death panels” so we shouldn’t call them that either.

And as for that prediction about illegal immigrants being covered by Obama Care, what nonsense! Obama plans to legalize them first!

So you see, a little white lie was told to save you from the bigger Republican lies. The ends justify the means. We accept that explanation all the time from history. Would a Union general in the Civil War have lied to the Confederacy in order to end slavery?

What? You don’t like that comparison? Those who do not appreciate Civil War analogies are racists. Maybe that’s the problem here. Maybe Obama has done nothing wrong. Maybe your concerns about health care are racially based.

In summary, President Obama did not lie. You just need to understand what he truly meant. But if you still want to insist that he did lie, well maybe he did it for you to save you from those evil Republicans. Perhaps you should be a little less sanctimonious, a little more grateful, and as always, a little less racist.



Bob Siegel is a radio talk show host and columnist. Information about his radio show can be found at



The Wall Street Journal and Newsmax contributed to the news portions of this article.



This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Bob Siegel

A graduate of Denver Seminary and San Jose State University, Bob Siegel is a radio talk show host and popular guest speaker at churches and college campuses across the country, using a variety of media including, seminars, formal debates, outdoor open forums, and one man drama presentations.

In addition to his own weekly radio show (KCBQ 1170, San Diego) Bob has been a guest on many other programs, including The 700 Club, Washington Times Radio's Inside the Story, The Rick Amato Show, KUSI Television's Good Morning San Diego, and the world popular Jonathan Park radio drama series, for which Bob guest starred in two episodes and wrote one episode, The Clue From Ninevah.

Bob is a regular contributor for San Diego Newsroom and San Diego Rostra. Bob does a good deal of playwriting as well (14 plays & 5 collaborations), including the award winning, Eternal Reach.  Bob has also published two books;  A Call To Radical Discipleship, and I'd Like to Believe In Jesus, But...

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