Obama’s big lie: restoring faith and trust

The president’s whopper, the “lie of the year,” raises the issue of how to repair a relationship when a lie is told and trust and respect are lost. Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON, December 16, 2013 – “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” has earned the “Lie of the Year Award” based on a readers’ poll at PolitiFact, a political fact checking website.

Most of the issues in Politifact’s poll were slanted towards either Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act (ACA), however, the president’s whopper, the “lie of the year,” raises the issue of how to repair a relationship when a lie is told and trust and respect are lost. 

What should President Obama do to begin the process of restoring faith in his presidency?

My parents taught me that to tell a lie was one of the worst character mistakes one could make.  I could easily be forgiven for a misstatement or even a partial truth, if the truth was unintentionally omitted or I was unaware of other components of the truth.

However, telling an outright lie, especially for personal or professional gain, was unacceptable and would yield greater punishment than if I had just told the truth.

Question: How do you know when politicians are lying? 

Response: As soon as their lips start to move and they begin to speak, they are lying.

It’s an old joke but true — at least in the case of the president lying about keeping your current health insurance and your doctor.

I wanted to believe the president when he said the implementation of the ACA would decrease my health care insurance premiums and increase my healthcare coverage, but the facts indicate he was not telling the truth.

To begin to repair his relationship with the American public, the president would have to give a honest and heartfelt apology. Taking a restorative justice approach, he would also have to acknowledge he intentionally lied, despite his good intentions.  

Instead the president has said, “I am sorry that they…are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me.” 

Was it fair that the government mandated that healthy young people pay more for their healthcare so that older and less healthy people could pay less?  The architects of ACA decided it was not only fair, but it would also benefit the common good.

It is encouraging to see young people taking notice of what the ACA means for them, that is, beyond being able to remain on their parents’ healthcare plans until age 26.  According to the Harvard Institute of Politics, “Among the 18- 29- year olds currently without health insurance, less than 1/3 say they’re likely to enroll in the exchange (13% say they will definitely enroll, 16% say they will probably enroll); 41% say they are 50-50 at the moment.”

How could the architects of the ACA be so shortsighted? President Obama should repair the damages inflicted upon approximately 4.8 million people who received notices that their health insurance plans will be canceled because they didn’t meet the requirements imposed by the ACA.  Additionally, he should articulate a clear plan for limiting any additional harm caused by the ACA and apologize to young people.

It’s the right thing for the president to do but maybe not the likely one.


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Millicent Carvalho-Grevious

Dr. Millicent Carvalho-Grevious, is the founder and principal of Pennsylvania Conflict Resolution and Mediation Services, Inc. She has mediated conflicts for over 30 years, providing services in a variety of venues for private and public entities, including the United States Postal Service, the Office of Dispute Resolution of the Department of Education, and the office of Employer Support for the National Guard and Reserve. She was one of 14 conflict resolution experts from 11 nations invited to Chongqing, China in 2009 to participate in a forum titled, “Responding to the Challenges of Financial Crisis and Building Social Harmony.” Previously, she served as Director/Program Chair of Urban Studies and Community at LaSalle University, Associate Professor and Chair of Department of Social Work at Virginia Union University and Associate Professor and Social Work Department Chair at Delaware State University. She earned a Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Social Work and Master of Law and Social Policy degrees at Bryn Mawr College and Master of Education (Counselor Education) at Boston University and Bachelor of Arts at LaSalle University.

Contact Millicent Carvalho-Grevious

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