Spanish philosopher George Santayana once said that those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it. President Barack Obama, along with other Obamacare supporters, seem blissfully ignorant both of history and of Santayana’s dictum.
Trivia question: Who made the following statements, when, and about what? The answer will appear later in the column:
1. “I learned some valuable lessons about the legislative process, the importance of bipartisan cooperation and the wisdom of taking small steps to get a big job done.”
2. “I think that both the process and the plan were flawed. We were trying to do something that was very hard to do, and we made a lot of mistakes.”
“If you like your plan, you can keep [it]—period,” and “If you like your doctor, you can keep [him]—period,” were more than innocent misstatements by Obama. They were desperate, repeated prevarications born out of the necessity that a failure to persuade enough people to believe them would doom Obamacare.
Obama either knew or should have known that such assurances weren’t true. A July 2010 IRS bulletin revealed that “a reasonable range” of insurance plans that would not be grandfathered in under Obamacare “is 40 to 67 percent.”
Nor do Obama’s repeated pledges that widespread plan loss would be limited mainly to the individual insurance market hold water. His own Justice Department noted a projection in an October court filing that “a majority of group plans will have lost their grandfather status by the end of 2013.”
Loss of private insurance plans isn’t a mere unfortunate, unintended, unforeseen side effect of Obamacare. Rather, such a loss is central to the law’s success, since the only way to fund the care of the poorer, older, and sicker is if the younger, healthier, and (in many cases) wealthier are forced into the insurance exchanges to help pay for it.
Back to our trivia question. Were they made by a wiser, more contrite President Obama? If only that were true. Not only does he seem unwilling (or unable) to learn from history, he has always seemed to suffer from the delusion that he’s the smartest guy in any room he enters.
Here’s a hint: The statements were made by a one-time Obama administration official. Was it HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, perhaps? Alas, the only apologies about the flawed Obamacare rollout that sound more wooden than hers are those of the president himself, and of course, Sebelius has yet to step down.
No, the statements were made by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and she was talking, not about Obamacare, but rather about her husband’s effort to reform the health insurance market, an effort in which she played a key role.
Recent Democratic support of various initiatives intended to hold Obama to his promises indicate that he may stand nearly alone since, unlike him, Congressional Democrats have their political futures to worry about.
Obama is right about one thing: Obamacare’s failings are “on [him].” When it comes to the American health insurance market, if and when he breaks it, he owns it. Few Democrats are likely to want to own it along with him.
Ken K. Gourdin, Tooele, is a certified paralegal.