Reading Erika’s post this morning got me thinking. Democrats still haven’t gotten their story straight about the untimely demise of “if you like your plan, you can keep it” — President Obama’s most memorable presidential promise. For his part, Obama delivered the pledge ad nauseam for years, before misleadingly minimizing the scope of its victims as it unraveled. Then, after a feeble shot at revisionism cratered, he was forced to muster a half-assed apology. When that didn’t staunch the bleeding either, he rolled out a desperation “fix” that hits a rare trifecta: It is logistically infeasible — and quite possibly illegal — according to various experts, it has been roundly criticized by lefty wonks who see it as a counter-productive affront to the viability of the law, and it has been dismissed by elected Democrats as insufficient weak sauce. No one’s happy. Quite a feat. As the White House flails and fumbles, Congressional Democrats have been left to their own devices to engage in freelance damage control. The yarn they’re spinning is a tangled web, indeed. To hear people like House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand tell it, of course they knew that ‘keep your plan’ wasn’t exactly accurate. The president employed “imprecise” language, Hoyer allowed last month. Hey, “we all knew” Obama’s categorical pledge wasn’t quite right, Gillibrand added over the weekend, lamenting that Democrats hadn’t adequately explained all the details:
Two quick points: (1) A fuller explanation would have rendered Obama’s vow inoperative, and likely would have sunk the bill. That’s the whole reason they lied in the first place. (2) Gillibrand needs to have a chat with Kirsten Powers, the Hammacks, Edie Sundby, Bob Laszewski, David Frum, Matthew Fleischer, and countless others who’ve been dumped from their decidedly non “terrible” plans into inferior and/or more expensive coverage. The Left’s persistent “junk coverage” talking point is garbage, and is especially rich coming from folks who believe with religious fervor that Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion is the height of human compassion. (Also, has she heard about Obamacare’s effects on deductibles?) In any case, a number of Democrats want Americans to know that yes, they did know ‘keep your plan’ was inaccurate — and therefore their primary shortcoming was fouling up the expectations management game. Which brings us to a separate class of Democrats, to whom we’ll refer as the “we had no idea!” crowd. This nervous bunch is hoping to persuade voters that they were bamboozled by Obama’s promise just like everyone else, and that they’re working tirelessly to rectify the unforeseen breach of trust. This group is led by vulnerable Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon:
“It was a significant failure to understand that the grandfathering had this flaw in it,” said Merkley, “and now that it’s recognized, we’ve got to fix it.” The senator added that “we just didn’t fully understand” that during the three years before the new law went completely into effect, many people would migrate to other coverage or be forced off these grandfathered plans.
“It was our understanding when we voted for that bill that people when they have insurance could keep with what they had. So I’m going to be working on that fix.”
Which is it, Democrats? Did everyone know ‘keep your plan’ wouldn’t pan out for millions of Americans, or were members left in the dark by a conniving administration? Team Gillibrand has decided that the best course of action is to try to spin their lie into a mere miscommunication — which, ironically enough, is yet another lie. Team Landrieu, by contrast, has concluded that posing as derelict ignoramuses is preferable to looking like shameless liars. The trouble for the former group is that their new “truth” is painfully incompatible with their previous assertions, and people aren’t that stupid. The problem for the latter cohort is that by pretending to be surprised by the inevitable consequences of a law they supported, they are only compounding their previous lie. How can we be so sure that at least Senate Democrats knew better? Because they were explicitly warned by their colleagues about this issue in 2010, then voted en masse to defeat a GOP proposal that would have mitigated the problem:
Fortunately, Republicans have a turn-key riposte to either cynical Democratic posture: Obamacare supporting liars and morons deserve to be replaced by voters.
UPDATE – It looks like Landrieu and Gillibrand are gal-pal sister Senators. Why didn’t Gillibrand have the decency to warn her red state friend about the faultiness of Obama’s pledge before it was too late? Why??