Delicious Irony

While Congress and most of the nation was caught in the melodrama of whether or not to extend the tax cuts this week, another drama was playing out. Politifact chose to announce, PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year: ‘A government takeover of health care’, at the same time Judge Roger Vinson was hearing the case just down the road in Pensacola in which 20 states are challenging the constitutionality of ObamaCare’s mandate that individuals buy health insurance. I suspect that there were lawyers in that court arguing that the biggest lie of the year was the belief that the individual mandate was constitutional. To be fair to Politifact they chose to argue that the government take over of health care was the biggest lie. They are correct that Obamacare does not take over hospitals or provide a public option but once again their choice of this lie over some other whoppers is puzzling. I seem to remember that Social Security was sold to the American people as insurance. It did not take the American people too long to figure out that it was not insurance. Then it was described as a trust plan and that explanation didn’t work with the people either. It is interesting to note that the facts and lies about the Social Security plan really didn’t matter in the overall debate as long as we were wealthy enough to push the responsibility to pay for Social Security benefits to the next generation. In 2010  the American people panicked about the deficit and the likelihood that Obamacare would cost a lot more that advertised. Paul Krugman and others didn’t help the situation when they argued that  the solution to spiraling health costs was to go to a single payer system. According to him the key to Obamacare was to create the entitlement. Following the path blazed by Social Security the health care entitlement would evolve into a single payer government system when the original version of Obamacare threatened to bankrupt the country. Unfortunately for him the real risk as perceived by the American people is that both the original version of Obamacare and its replacement might be overcome with fraud and inefficiency. Why would anyone think that this new federal agency will be any more efficient an organization than Medicaid, the Post Office, or Amtrak? The likely scenario is that it will fail like TennCare did in Tennessee. When TennCare threatened to bankrupt the state, Tennessee chose to dramatically cut back on TennCare. For the American people this is a sorry plan to fix spiraling health care costs. They wanted a plan to control spiraling health care costs and the got a plan to dramatically expand free or heavily subsidized health care coverage. So although Politifact may have been technically correct about the government take over of health care, the American people saw a more important lie playing out in the health care debate. Considering how they voted last November it looks like they were far more concerned with the lies that Obamacare would keep their health insurance costs from rising and would not increase the budget deficit. Maybe the people are not as dumb as some journalists and former elected officials would like to believe.