11/24/13

Obama's credibility is going, going, gone!

The Economist gives some tips about how Obama can get his credibility back. It is hard for a liar to get credibility back.

Of course, it is possible that Obama can reverse things by finding a new scapegoat to blame his lies on or by finding a good way to blame Republicans. His truest of true believers will continue to stand by him, no matter what, especially those who support the policy. And except for the loyal opposition, citizens want to believe the nation's leader.

I'm skeptical, however, that Obama will be able to "get his credibility back." There is reason to believe that things will get worse, not better.

A video showing some of the many times Obama saying, without any qualifiers, that people can keep their health care plans. Like a crooked car salesman, he is now trying to explain why the broken-down car that fell apart within a week is actually working just fine.

1) REALITY: It has been said that the worst thing that can happen to an idea is that it is put into practice. Obama's idea sounded grand in theory on the campaign trail and in speeches, but now it is time to implement it. Ouch! Dr. Obama is here, with a needle the size of Texas to injection the medicine. The reality of the disaster of Obamacare is just starting.

2) SPIN GAMES CONTINUING: Obama's administration and allies are trying political double-speak even now, saying that people who had their plans canceled didn't really have their plans canceled, but that they were "renewed." If that is an indicator of their strategy then it indicates they are going to keep playing games, piling lies and double-speak on top of previous lies. It is easier to keep up the lies when the point is in theory, but with health care costs going up rather than down and with people having plans they preferred getting canceled, it will be more difficult to talk his way out of this with more eloquent speeches written for him.

3) NEXT WAVE OF CANCELLATIONS: People who had their individual plans canceled are outraged--there will be another wave of outrage when the many waivers expire. It was good political strategy to offer waivers to hide the costs of the policy, but at some point, those waivers will expire. There will be even more outrage when employer-sponsored health plans start to be canceled because of Obamacare, and when even more people have their plans canceled. If I know this...then I am assuming that the President of the United States knows this, and he knows that people will be even more outraged next year, just as he had to have known that people would be outraged their plans would be canceled but he carried on as if things were going swell...

4) THE SHAM CONTINUES: As even the Economist notes, Obama's announcement that people could have their lost plans back is a "sham." Yes, even the Economist recognizes this. Insurers are not going to bring them back, those plans are going, going, gone! Along with Obama's credibility. The Economist is wondering what Obama needs to do to get his credibility back, but this was such a painful lie about a sensitive issue that is harming people directly that I don't see how he can come back from it. He is still president so he can still get things done, but when he makes a promise from now, people will mock him, as even Democrats are doing these days.

5) WHO DECIDES: When people were criticizing Obamacare's failed rollout, he and his allies referred to the "substandard" plans they were replacing. He dropped that quickly when people began to attack and apparently the "substandard" plan wasn't polling very well with focus groups. It was supreme political arrogance, that he was going to decide which plans were "substandard." What Obama may have learned is that people didn't want to be forced to give up the health care plans they might not have liked very much with plans they don't like at all, and at a higher cost. As I've said in other contexts: When you want to help someone, you don't start by cancelling the option they currently chose, and forcing them to adopt your plan.

* * *

For those reasons and others, and much to the chagrin of the Economist, Obama will be weak, especially if he doesn't further delay the implementation of Obamacare past the 2014 Congressional elections. By canceling people's plans, he has made enemies of many people who supported him or were lukewarm about him. It was bad political strategy because politicians usually strategize to diffuse costs while concentrating benefits. What Obama has done is the reverse--the costs are direct, hurting people directly but eliminating their plans, while the benefits are less visible.

* * *

As a side note: What about the credibility of the Economist? As usual, it was supportive of the BIG PLAN in theory, while weakly wringing its hands about possible problems. From the Economist article:

a) The Economist supported Obamacare when it passed Congress in 2010.
b) Time after time, when selling his reform, he told voters that if they liked their health insurance, they could “keep that insurance. Period. End of story.” Policy wonks knew this was untrue. Mr Obama’s number-crunchers quietly predicted that up to two-thirds of people with individual policies would be forced to change them, since the law would make many bare-bones plans illegal. But ordinary Americans took their president at his word; many were furious to learn last month that their old policies would be cancelled.

So.... the policy wonks knew, it, but the Economist didn't? Yet, the Economist supported it. I don't read the Economist enough to know, but I guess that it dismissed the many critics of Obamacare (while, I'm sure, saying it also recognizes their concerns, blah blah, Economist saying everything to cover both sides of an argument while still supporting The Big Plan).

Casey