Ladies and Gentlemen, before I get into the
specifics of the good news regarding Obamacare I think it makes sense to talk
about a couple of things and work up to Obamacare. You see at some point in the
future historians will look back at the Presidency of Barack Obama and I think
they are going to find it one of the most interesting Presidencies to analyze
for a number of reasons. At the top of that list of reasons is going to be the
ways in which Republicans concocted their opposition to him.
In articles, I’ve said from pretty early on in
Obama’s Presidency, from Spring and Summer of 2009 that the Republicans had two
ways to go and their choice was clear. They were faced with this guy who had
tremendous popularity, a mandate for change, the first black President all of
that and they could either try to ride the wave and work with him and in so
doing try to get as many of their ideas incorporated in what was to come as
possible, or they could oppose him 100% and try to tear him down and in so
doing take themselves down as well and potentially take down the country.
We could tell in March of 2009 with the beginnings
of the tea party nonsense that Republicans had chosen the second option.
I say that this option is going to take them down as
well because it radicalized the Republican party. There are pretty much no
moderate Republicans left. The only appeal that Republicans have to moderate
Americans is that after Obama’s policies have been demonized as much as they
have been, Republican’s appeal is that they aren’t Obama and oppose his
policies. If they score victories in election 2014 that, and low turnout by
Democrats will be the only reasons why.
Moderate Americans are not in favor of any part of
the current Republican agenda, not the economic, social or foreign policy
agenda of Republicans. That is part of the damage that Republicans have done to
themselves these last six years and it will make winning the 2016 Presidential
election virtually impossible for them.
One of the ways Republicans opposed the President
was to make dire and in some cases wild predictions about his policies,
predictions that his policies would fail and cause various catastrophies.
The edition of the tea party movement that began in
February and March of 2009 was started to oppose the President’s stimulus bill
that he put forth to stop the economic collapse that was occurring at that
time. The country was losing 800,000 jobs a month when President Obama was
inaugurated. That’s the economy he was handed by outgoing President Bush.
It’s hard to imagine now, but the Tea Party and the
Republican Party that embraced it said that the stimulus and the rest of
President Obama’s policies would not help the economy. Looking back now that
seems completely wrong and preposterous. The President’s policies have
completely turned the economy around. I mentioned last week how Forbes rates
President Obama’s economic turnaround the best and highest job creating since
the Second World War. But Republicans said it would fail and make the economy
worse. Not only have record numbers of jobs been created, there have been
increases in manufacturing, the real estate market has recovered, businesses
are doing extremely well and the equity markets are doing well. The President’s
policies have brought about both a deep and broad based economic recovery.
And, Republicans have not suffered any consequences
for that incorrect prediction on the most basic thing that matters to all
Americans, as the saying goes, it’s the economy stupid. One would think that
the American people would no longer trust Republicans on the economy after
being so badly wrong about whether President Obama’s economic policies would
work and would throw Republicans out of office in large numbers but that isn’t
happening. Why? Well, as they have with all of their wildly wrong predictions, Republicans
are banking on enough time passing between their incorrect predictions and the
actual results so that the American people forget what they said.
I apologize for the lengthy preamble but I think it
will become meaningful in a moment as we get to Obamacare.
There were so many crazy predictions by Republicans
about Obamacare that I can’t get to them all in this piece but I want to focus
on two or three that were in the news recently.
One of them that you saw a lot just 6-10 months ago
was that not enough young people were going to sign up causing premiums to
double or triple in 2015 and thus Obamacare would fail because everyone would
then pull out.
First of all we learned early on in 2014 that over
25% of eligible folks under 30 had signed up for Obamacare and that exceeded
what was necessary for the plan to be viable. But its one thing to say that,
it’s another to see the premiums.
Well the stats have begun to come out about what
premiums will be in 2015. The Kaiser family did a study and it found that not
only will premiums not go up in the Obamacare policies and exchanges in 2015,
they will decrease slightly.
So Republicans were very wrong about that. Are they
going to receive any punishment from the voters from throwing ridiculous
predictions out there about Obamacare premiums? It doesn’t seem so.
This week, there were two important news stories
about Obamacare. One was that new insurance companies are flocking to the
exchanges to offer policies for 2015. Health and Human Services Secretary
Sylvia Burwell announced during a speech this past Tuesday at the Brookings
institution that the number of companies offering plans on the Affordable Care
Act's health insurance exchange marketplaces for 2015 will jump to 248, a 25
percent increase over this year, in the 44 states where the numbers are
available. So consumers will have additional choices when they choose their
policies this year. That’s an interesting situation considering that in various
ways, Republicans have been claiming that the economics of Obamacare don’t add
up. Well, the free market has spoken, and private insurance companies want to
offer their services on the exchange. Apparently the economics do add up.
Additionally, stats have shown that for every new insurance option added on a
state’s exchange, consumers see a 4% reduction in premium prices. So these
additional insurance options will put further downward pressure on premium
The other piece of news that came out this week was
very important. Republicans have been claiming that Obamacare will not reduce
costs and has been a failure at reducing costs.
Once again, at the Tuesday meeting at the Brookings
Institute, Secretary Burwell announced that expanded health coverage under the
Affordable Care Act will save U.S. hospitals $5.7 billion this year on the cost
of caring for uninsured Americans.
Diving into the report shows that nearly
three-quarters of the savings, $4.2 billion, will occur in states that have
opted to expand the Medicaid healthcare program for the poor as part of Obamacare.
So those hospitals in red states with Republican governors who refused to
expand their Medicaid can thank those governors for the losses they incurred
treating uninsured patients.
But more to the point, Obamacare is creating massive
amounts of savings. And this savings will again be passed on to consumers in
the form of lower premiums. We probably won’t start seeing that savings until
2016, but it will be there. Of course, I expect hospitals and insurance
companies to take some of that in profits, but a fair amount will be passed on
to policy holders as well all across the health spectrum. Even folks who have
nothing to do with Obamacare, employer health insurance plans will see
decreases in premium prices as a result.
Again, will Republicans be penalized by the voters
for being so wrong? I doubt it.
I think we have to coin a new phrase for this
strategy by Republicans. They are clearly doing it deliberately. When I thought
of this strategy, in my mind I called it Preemptive Orwelian doublespeak. But I
have a better term for it, the Lieperbole.
They used the Lieperbole against the stimulus, they
used it against Obamacare, even the so called scandals, fast and furious, IRS,
and Benghazi were I think examples of the Republican use of lieperbole.
Again, the dynamics of the lieperbole are that you
attack the administration’s policies or initiatives or handling of an issue and
claim all of these bad things were done or will happen with the goal of driving
down the administration’s approval level and creating dissatisfaction with the
policy. By the time the truth comes out many months or years later, the truth
no longer matters. The public continues to feel negatively about the
administration’s policy or handling of the event no matter what evidence comes
out later or how successful the policy turns out to be.
You can see how successful it has been. I talked
last week about how successful the administration has been with the economy.
President Obama’s approval levels should be 60-70% for that reason alone. But
Republicans talked for years about how his policies weren’t working. It turns
out he did a better and faster job getting out of this recession than Reagan
did in the 80’s. Does he get credit for it, no, because of Republican
We will continue to see evidence of Republican
lieperboles on healthcare reform as we get closer to 2015. Obamacare has been
successful and evidence of that will increase, but the public still has a
negative opinion on Obamacare. Why? Why at this point when it is so clear that
the policy has succeeded do people have a negative opinion of it?
This cynical tactic by the Republicans works and
will continue to work until we all call it out and force them to stop using it
by making sure it no longer works.