On November 7, President Barack Obama made a first tentative stab at an apology for the fact that, despite his often-repeated assurances to the contrary, millions of Americans were losing their health insurance plans as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). “I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” he told Chuck Todd of NBC News.
The president’s reluctant apology was as empty as the promise that he broke. Obama was not sorry for the law or its impact on the health insurance status of millions, which was not only predictable but intended. Nor did he apologize for misleading the public, as he most certainly had. At a press conference the following week, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney struggled to explain what exactly the president was contrite about.
Despite its insufficiency as a mea culpa, the president’s interview was a tacit acknowledgement that the disastrous rollout of his signature legislative achievement had produced a crisis of confidence not just in Obama’s competence but in his credibility. This development was underscored five days later when a Quinnipiac poll found that 52 percent of Americans no longer trusted him.
In a rambling, unusually reflective press conference on November 14, a weary-looking Obama actually swallowed a bit of crow instead of just picking at it. “I completely get how upsetting [the cancellations] can be for a lot of Americans, particularly after assurances they heard from me that if they had a plan that they liked, they could keep it,” he said. “There is no doubt that the way I put that forward unequivocally ended up not being accurate.” The president also acknowledged that “we fumbled the rollout on this health care law,” saying, “I did not have enough awareness about the problems in the website.” He added that “I think it’s legitimate for [people] to expect me to have to win back some credibility on this health care law.”
But Obama’s broken promise that people who liked their health plans could keep them only scratches the surface of the administration’s health care mendacity. As the following list illustrates, it was one of at least a dozen false or misleading statements that senior administration officials and ranking Democrats made before, during, and after Obamacare was signed into law. The persistent misrepresentations and outright lies were in fact integral to the law’s passage, to its implementation, and to the damage-control phase that began with the botched launch of the online insurance exchanges in October. Judging by how badly the rollout has been managed thus far, it is possible that the president’s apology tour has only just begun.
Read the Rest of ‘They Lied’ at Reason Magazine