I’ve been traveling to give a talk yesterday and today, which means that I’m missing the hearings today. I couldn’t care less. If anyone thinks anything of value, policy-wise, is going to come out of that then I’ve got a bridge to sell you.
What people hope for is a gaffe. They hope a politician they don’t like will say something stupid, or make a mistake that they can use to attack a policy from the sides. Gaffes can be fun, but only in the realm of politics. Gaffes can be useful when they allow us to highlight problems with policy.
Such was the case with Senator Cruz’s spokesperson and the “subsidies” given to employer based health insurance. We can use the statement to highlight a policy issue that needs fixing. But we are interested in the policy – and will continue to write about that – not the gaffe. That will fade away quickly.
On the other hand, I don’t care how many times you email me or tweet me to say that President Obama “lied” when he said you could keep your plan if you like it. I immediately recognized that was untrue when he said it. I called him out on that. I did that because I thought it was important to highlight the policy of the ACA and explain that there were many mini-med plans and the like that were going away no matter how much people liked them. And then I moved on. Austin recently wrote on how it was indefensible again.
This “mistake” is on the administration, not the policy. It’s how the ACA was supposed to function, and it’s unfortunate that the President got it wrong. But that’s on the people who said it, not the ACA. If there are any members of Congress who voted for the law because they believed that to be true, then they have a gripe. If there are any voters who voted for the President because they believed that to be true, then they have a gripe. Everyone else wouldn’t have changed their behavior much. Could they hate (or love) the law more?
Moreover, these are politicians. Everyone has short-term memory problems, or else they would remember that Senator Obama made huge gains against Senator Clinton for attacking her for having an individual mandate in her health care plan. Then he flip-flopped in office and made a law with one. People make mistakes. Will the next major breaking news story be that President Obama lied about the individual mandate?
When I spoke last night, I was confronted by people who immediately assumed I loved the law and would defend it to the death. Others assumed that any criticism I made meant that I wanted to repeal it and put us back to the status quo ante. We have to get past this. We will be much better off as a country if we work to fix our health care system and if we work together to make it function more optimally than if we continue to try and win this “game”.