Lies. Damned lies. And Obamacare statistics
By Michael R. Shannon
web posted November 25, 2013
The latest batch of October statistics from the Obama White House credits me with buying a Mercedes, BMW and an Audi. And the best part is it didn't cost me a dime! All I did was take three test drives and here I am: A GDP–generating fool.
This flexible interpretation of window–shopping and tire–kicking has great potential for the future. I'm thinking about taking credit for job creation when I get a haircut or have my car washed. With just a bit more attention to my personal appearance I could find states competing to offer me subsidies and tax breaks like Terry McAuliffe got from Mississippi.
And wouldn't you know it, this conceptual breakthrough started with Obamacare and the HealthCare.dud website.
Some of my conservative colleagues complained when Obama minions began counting people who only visited the HealthCare.dud website and selected a plan, but didn't pay for it as Official Obamacare Enrollees. These stalwarts contend that until the victim has actually paid for the plan there is no sale and consequently no enrollment, regardless of how much they need the insurance or how many hours they wasted on the website.
What's more, if we let Obama get away with this, soon people who only thought about health insurance would be counted as part of the system.
The private sector equivalent of this new White House statistical interpretation would be Amazon.com counting items still on shopper's ‘wish lists' as being revenue generating sales; and then releasing the information to Wall Street so as to drive up the stock price.
Since he's not president, the result would be Jeff Bezos facing charges, while Obama merely faces a hostile — make that mildly annoyed — press corps that is having trouble coming up with new excuses for the president's failures.
The conservative objection, while true, misses the larger point. Based on the Phantom Obamacare Enrollee Precedent, when I buy my 2013 copy of TurboTax and fill out the form, I should be counted as having paid my taxes without sending the IRS a check!
I call it my own private sequester. And when you consider how the number of people who take more from the government than they pay in taxes is increasing, it finally puts me on the right side of history.
The Obamacare rollout — or ground out, if you prefer — does have implications for Obama's future after the White House. If he's as smart as the MSM assures us, Obama will steer clear of the private sector. That's because if he tried the same marketing tactics outside of government, he would be subject to fines and possibly jail time.
As Orson Swindle, a Federal Trade Commission member from 1997 to 2005, pointed out in the National Review the HealthCare.dud website is deceptive, misleading and illegal. Jay Carney's "wild west" indeed.
You may recall a recent furor over airline websites that were allegedly hiding baggage and other add–on fees until just before the consumer purchased the ticket. "Consumer advocates" and other busybodies complained that by waiting until the end of the purchase process to give the consumer a total price, airlines were trying to pull a fast one.
Airlines responded that where else would you give a total price unless it was at the end of the purchase process?
And besides the Carnac the Magnificent software was not ready for launch. Protests fell on deaf government ears and the FTC required the websites to be reprogrammed to sound a klaxon and flash red lights every time a consumer made a choice that would add more than a nickel to the ticket price.
Soon shopping for a big–ticket airfare came to resemble crash–diving in a submarine.
Yet the HealthCare.dud site is programmed to hide any cost information until after the consumer has created an account and been forced to divulge detailed financial information. And even then the information is purposely inaccurate.
As Swindle says, quoting CBS News, "HealthCare.gov contains a pricing feature that tends to "dramatically underestimate" the cost of insurance. The website's "shop and browse" feature divides users into two broad age categories: "49 or under" and "50 or older." Price estimates for the first age group are based on what a 27-year-old could expect to pay, whereas as the latter group's price estimates are based on what a 50-year-old would pay, a practice that inevitably produces wildly misleading results for individuals significantly older than the base age. In some cases, actual premiums are nearly double the projected amount."
Swindle concludes, "The bottom line is that no private entity would be allowed to get away with what the Obama administration is trying to get away with."
And we haven't even mentioned the "if you like your health insurance, you can keep it" shuffle.
The bad news is we have conservative busybodies, too. Rep. Fred Upton (R–MI) — descendant of Civil War hero Gen. Emory Upton — passed a bill in the House to allow insurers to continue to sell policies that the feds have cancelled. What's more, Upton persuaded 39 Democrats to join him in supporting this "bi–partisan" legislation. (Unfortunately for comity in the House, the bill must have passed on the weekend, because I don't remember any praise for Upton from the MSM for reaching across the aisle to garner Democrat support.)
Too bad this is exactly the wrong thing to do.
If we are to rid ourselves of this Obamacare monstrosity, it will only come after the pressure on Democrats is so great they beg for political mercy. And that will only happen after all those who didn't take time to read the law, feel the impact of the law.
Interim fix–its to reduce the pain undermine what should be conservative's long term goal, which is end it, not mend it.
Michael R. Shannon is a public relations and advertising consultant with corporate, government and political experience around the globe. He is a dynamic and entertaining keynote speaker. He can be reached at mandate.mmpr (at) gmail.com. He is also the author of the forthcoming book: "Funny Conservative" Is Not an Oxymoron. (Or any other type of moron).