In an interview with CNN, Bob Laszewki summed up the problem with
Obamacare better than anyone else has so far. “I think the administrative
mess you’re seeing right now is indicative of what happens when somebody
tries to run somebody else’s business who thinks they’re smarter than
This statement could apply to a lot more than health reform in the Obama era. But CNN was focused on the tidal wave of health insurance cancellation letters now being sent to Americans.
The response from the White House to this political problem has had two parts, one public and one private. Both parts work together to insure the American people do not get the truth about what is happening.
In public the administration has made the risible claim that nothing in the Affordable Care Act mandates the cancellation letters now being received by hundreds of thousands of people around the county. As Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post pointed out yesterday, that’s a blatant lie.
Part two of the administration’s strategy, and the focus of the CNN report, is to prevent anyone who knows the truth from speaking up. In this case that means pressuring insurers to remain quiet. We’ve seen evidence that this has been going on before but according to health insurance insider Bob Laszewski the amount of pressure being exerted is “massive.” Laszewski tells CNN, “The White House is exerting massive pressure on the industry, including the trade associations to keep quiet.” Keep quiet about what? About a fact which is already beyond dispute: HHS regulations are directly responsible for the cancellations we are now seeing.
So in public the White House claims they are not to blame and in private they pressure those who know better to keep mum. The lie only works if you can also shut down the truth. Shutting down the truth only benefits you if you have an lie to substitute for it. It’s the Obama scandal two-step.
We saw another example of this yesterday during congressional testimony. Sec. Sebelius pointedly refused to allow contractors to release information about the number of people who have enrolled in plans. Sebelius claims she doesn’t have the numbers (doubtful) but clearly wants the people who do have them to shut up.
Frankly, this two-tiered strategy has been used before on other administration problems completely unconnected to health reform. The White House spread a lie about a spontaneous protest in Benghazi and subsequently ordered monthly polygraph tests to prevent anyone who was there from speaking to the media. It’s the same strategy applied to a different problem. Step one is give people a politically helpful story. Step two is threaten anyone who might contradict it.
For all the people who bought into the idea that President Obama was just a nonpartisan pragmatist, all of this must come as a shock. Not only is this nakedly political it’s not even artfully done. Only those who want to be deluded will remain so and, fortunately, most of the major media is not falling for it this time. Maybe that’s progress of a sort.