The Expanding Catalogue of Obamacare Fables
Is there a health insurance horror story disseminated by the White House and its allies that ever turned out to be true? Obamacare advocates have exercised more artistic license than a convention of Photoshoppers. Now, a prominent sob story shilled by President Obama himself about his own mother is in doubt. It's high past time to call their bluffs.
The tall-tale-teller-in-chief cited mom Stanley Ann Dunham's deathbed fight with her insurer several times over the years to support his successful push to ban pre-existing condition exclusions by insurers. In a typical recounting, Obama shared his personalized trauma during a 2008 debate: "For my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they're saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don't have to pay her treatment, there's something fundamentally wrong about that."
But there was something fundamentally wrong with Obama's story. In a recently published biography of Obama's mother, author and New York Times reporter Janny Scott discovered that Dunham's health insurer had in fact reimbursed her medical expenses with nary an objection. The actual coverage dispute centered on a separate disability insurance policy.
Channeling document forger Dan Rather's "fake, but accurate" defense, a White House spokesman insisted to the Times that the anecdote somehow still "speaks powerfully to the impact of pre-existing condition limits on insurance protection from health care costs" -- even though Dunham's primary health insurer did everything it was supposed to do and met all its contractual obligations.
No matter. Expanding government control over health care means never having to say you're sorry for impugning private insurers. Democrats have dragged every available human shield into the contentious debate over Obama's federal takeover of health care. Personal anecdotes of dying family members battling evil insurance execs deflect attention from the cost, constitutionality and liberty-curtailing consequences of the law. The president's Dunham sham-ecdote is just the latest entry in an ever-expanding catalogue of Obamacare fables:
-- Otto Raddatz. In 2009, Obama publicized the plight of this Illinois cancer patient, who supposedly died after he was dropped from his Fortis/Assurant Health insurance plan when his insurer discovered an unreported gallstone the patient hadn't known about. The truth? He got the treatment he needed in 2005 and lived for nearly four more years.
-- Robin Beaton. Also in 2009, Obama claimed Beaton -- a breast cancer patient -- lost her insurance after "she forgot to declare a case of acne." In fact, she failed to disclose a previous heart condition and did not list her weight accurately, but had her insurance restored anyway after intense public lobbying.
-- John Brodniak. A 23-year-old unemployed Oregon sawmill worker, Brodniak's health woes were spotlighted by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof as a textbook argument for Obamacare. Brodniak was reportedly diagnosed with cavernous hemangioma, a neurological condition, and was allegedly turned away by emergency room doctors. Kristof called the case "monstrous" and decried opponents of Democrats' health care proposals as heartless murderers. The truth? Brodniak not only had coverage through Oregon's Medicaid program, but was also a neurology patient at the prestigious Oregon Health and Science University in Portland (a safety-net institution that accepts all Medicaid patients). Kristof never retracted the legend.
-- Marcelas Owens. An 11-year-old boy from Seattle, Owens took a coveted spot next to the president in March 2010 when Obamacare was signed into law. Owens' 27-year-old mother, Tiffany, died of pulmonary hypertension. The family said the single mother of three lost her job as a fast-food manager and lost her insurance. She died in 2007 after receiving emergency care and treatment throughout her illness. Progressive groups (for whom Marcelas' relatives worked) dubbed Marcelas an "insurance abuse survivor." But there wasn't a shred of evidence that any insurer had "abused" the boy or his mom. Further, Washington State already offered a plethora of existing government assistance programs to laid-off and unemployed workers like Marcelas' mom. The family and its p.r. agents never explained why she didn't enroll.
-- Natoma Canfield. The White House made the Ohio cancer patient a poster child for Obamacare in 2010 after she wrote a letter complaining about skyrocketing premiums and the prospect of losing her home. After Obama gave Canfield a shout-out at a health care rally in Strongsville, Ohio, and promised to control costs, officials at the renowned Cleveland Clinic, which is treating her, made clear that they would "not put a lien on her home" and that she was eligible for a wide variety of state aid and private charity care.
Since Obamacare passed, the amount workers pay in health care premiums has soared an average of nearly 14 percent; thousands of businesses have sought waivers in search of relief from the law's onerous mandates; medical device makers have slashed jobs and research; and the private individual health insurance market is in critical condition. Post-Obamacare truth is bloodier than pro-Obamacare fiction.
The One Becomes The Jerk
Obama finally solved the budget crisis the White House really cares about yesterday when he announced that he hauled in $86 million in campaign contributions for the three months ended June 30th.
The budget crisis facing the rest of us? Obama’s really mad at the rest of us because we are all acting very immaturely by withholding a blank check for the bills he’s run up.
The White House reacted to the breakdown in budget talks at the White House yesterday in characteristically ironic fashion: They scolded Republican Whip Eric Cantor’s “juvenile behavior” after Obama stormed out of debt negotiations, saying that Cantor must "let the grown-ups get to work."
Earlier this week the Leave-it-to-Beaver president told us all we’d have to “eat our peas,” like good children, when the GOP didn’t cave in by giving him his most cherished goal: tax increases and more tax increases.
Clearly the GOP hates Santa Claus, puppies, nuns, children, all animals you can’t eat, flowers and clean running water.
Word from the White House is that Obama’s considering grounding us all and taking away our cell phones for a year to force the GOP back to the negotiating table.
If that doesn’t work, Obama has vowed that “he’ll turn this economy right around” if we don’t start sitting up straight.
“When President Obama took an active role in the talks aimed at addressing the nation’s debt ceiling, the tone he used to describe the closed-door negotiations…was a marked departure from his campaign theme of Hope and Change,” writes Steve Berglas on Forbes blog.
“Now, since realizing that the buck stops on his desk, he is chiding, critical, and quite pessimistic. Obama’s once wildly optimistic promises have been replaced by threats…. His first order of business…was to reprimand Democrats and Republicans as though they were behaving like unruly, obstreperous children, in not agreeing to a plan that would put us deeper in debt.”
Word to the O’man:
It’s one thing to try to act like an adult in the room, but when you try to act like the only adult in the room by holding your breath and stomping your feet, your cover’s been blown.
To be the kind of Eddie Haskell jerk that Mark Halperin describes Obama to be would be a big step up from the petulant, childish, temper-prone jackass he’s acted like since he became the One.
Maybe he was that way before too. He probably was, even before the mass idolatry subsumed what was left of his fragile ego that gets snappish with reporters.
But none of that should really surprise us after he literally and deliberately gave Hillary Clinton the finger in public during the presidential primary. No other American political figure has ever been granted the type of exemptions from right behavior as Obama has, not even Bill Clinton.
Even Clinton’s supporters deplored his actions. Obama’s supporters just encourage him in his finger waving.
For a long time, people, especially the press- after all, they are people too, mostly- have looked at Mr. Cool as remote, often standoffish and arrogant.
But perhaps there is another explanation for his behavior.
Karl Rove tried to explain it to us back in 2008, but he narrowly missed it.
"Even if you never met him, you know this guy," Rove said, per Christianne Klein of ABC News. "He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."
No; he’s not that guy exactly. He’s that guy’s son.
Background to David Mamet's Conversion
Hollywood mocks capitalism, which seems odd because the people who make movies are such aggressive capitalists -- competing hard to make money. But Hollywood's message is that capitalism is shallow and cruel.
Take the 1992 movie "Glengarry Glen Ross" (based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play). It's about cutthroat real estate salesmen who work for a heartless company. It was written by the celebrated playwright David Mamet, author of "American Buffalo," "Spanish Prisoner," and more than 50 other plays and movies.
I assumed that Mamet was another garden-variety Hollywood lefty, but then a few years ago, I was surprised to see an article he wrote titled, "Why I'm No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal." Now he's followed up with a book, "The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture."
I asked Mamet what turned a "Hollywood liberal" into a conservative. Was he a brain-dead liberal? The newspaper, not Mamet, put that headline on his article. "I referred to myself as one," Mamet told me. "Political decisions I made were foolish." Foolish because he wasn't really thinking, he said. Since everybody around him was liberal, he just went along.
What changed? "I met a couple conservatives, and I realized I never met any conservatives in my life. ... (O)ne started sending me books. His books ... made more sense than my books." Mamet was suddenly exposed to ideas he had never encountered before.
"Shelby Steele's 'White Guilt,'" he said, "led me to the works of Tom Sowell and through them (F.A.) Hayek and Milton Friedman." Two things hit him especially hard: the benefits of economic competition and the limits of leaders' ability to plan society.
"If you stop licensing taxi cabs, tomorrow you will see guys and women on every street corner saying, 'Who wants to go to XYZ address?' (The cabbie) will put five people in the car and drive them to that address. ... When the guy drops them off, if he's smart, he'll say: 'Tomorrow -- same thing, right? What do you guys want to drink for breakfast?' There will be cappuccino and ice tea and glass of milk. After X months, he will have three cars; after X months, he will have a fleet. And everyone will be competing to meet the needs of the commuters, which also is going to reduce traffic. Why are they allowed to compete? Because the government got the hell out of the business."
Mamet also read Hayek's last book, "The Fatal Conceit."
"What Hayek is talking about is that we have to have a constrained vision of the universe. The unconstrained vision, the liberal vision, is that everything can be done, everything is accomplishable," he said. "We don't have the knowledge. ... There is only so much that government can do. ... It would be nice if giving all of our money to the government could cure poverty. Maybe, but giving money to the government causes slavery."
For Hayek, the "fatal conceit" is the premise that politicians and bureaucrats can make the world better -- not by leaving people free to coordinate their private individual plans in the marketplace -- but by overall social and economic planning.
Imagine trying to plan an economy, Mamet said, when we barely know enough to raise our kids. "(T)he guy in government can't know everything."
As you can imagine, when Mamet went public, he bewildered many of his showbiz peers. A Los Angeles Times critic called his book "a children's crusade with no understanding of real politics." The Nation called Mamet a "great playwright, (but a) moronic political observer."
Mamet said to his wife: 'Isn't it funny? ... The New York Times, the supposed newspaper of record that has been reviewing my plays for 40 years, isn't even going to review this book.' "She says: 'Dave, grow up. The purpose of all newspapers is political."
Maybe the Times thinks it's insignificant that a celebrated cultural "liberal" now questions his faith in the supposed healing power of government. But as we sit mired in this endless jobless "recovery," with the wreckage of government failure all around, we should ask ourselves which one is out of touch with reality.
The Great Reawakening
What started as a murmur has become a media refrain: “America is in decline.” Stated euphemistically the twenty-first century will not be an American century. Based on a dispassionate analysis of conditions at the moment, this sentiment seems accurate. Debt is crushing the American economy. Unemployment is steady at near double digits. And a mood of despair has captured the national capital.
But the Cassandras in our midst invariably overlook national resilience, the ability of Americans to rise to the occasion especially when conditions are most bleak. One such American is U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, a man who looks squarely at our problems and sees solutions.
In his new book, The Great American Awakening: Two Years That Changed My America, Washington and Me, DeMint points to the grass roots movement across the nation to reclaim our principles. Tea Partiers are on the march. Despite various media efforts to besmirch this homegrown movement, these average men and women are eager to restore fiscal sanity to the nation and in the process restore hope for our children and grandchildren.
Senator DeMint explains how this movement captured him and changed the dialogue in Washington. On one occasion speaking in California, DeMint had an epiphany. Even in a state suffering from insolvency, there is hope inspired by young people viscerally opposed to the intrusiveness of big government. Reading about Ronald Reagan DeMint notes, “The longer I live, the more I believe there are no great men, only average men who occasionally do great things.” Indeed it is these average men who influenced Senator DeMint.
Of course, there are detractors, those who are committed to the status quo. When the number of state employees increases geometrically and when 49 percent of Americans do not pay personal income tax, there is a constituency that believes government should be large and taxes high. But sensible people realize this arrangement is not sustainable.
If the United States is to remain a world power offering unprecedented liberty to its citizens, responsible financial measures must be taken. Tea Partiers get it and, after the experience Senator DeMint has had over the last two years, he gets it. The task ahead for conservatives is “to restore the Republican Party to its core principles” and “reearn the trust of the American people.” This mission is the partisan stance for national restoration. And if this book is any indication Senator DeMint is unquestionably in a leadership position.
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