Obamacare and the Wages of Spin

Many years ago, the writer Ayn Rand noticed a curious kind of backpedalling from the political Left. First, they’d claim that socialism would provide enough shoes for the whole world. But when economic reality caught up with them, and they failed to deliver on their promises, they’d turn around and claim that going barefoot was superior to wearing shoes. In modern parlance, those broken promises weren’t a bug, but a feature!

In the past few weeks, we’ve seen precisely this pattern coming from defenders of ObamaCare. For example:

Before: If you like your insurance, you can keep it.

Now: Losing your insurance is good!

In a CNN op-ed, progressive activist Sally Kohn attempted to argue that “a canceled health plan is a good thing.”

Basically, she claimed that the cancelled insurance plans weren’t that good anyway, and the government was doing those people a favor by making them buy insurance that government considered better, even if it costs more.

Before: You’ll pay less for insurance.

Now: Paying more is good!

In his Business Insider column, Josh Barro tried to explain, “Why ‘Rate Shock’ Is An Essential Part of Health Care Reform.”

He argued that the current system already consisted of “a thicket of subsidies and transfers.” And that ObamaCare merely made these subsidies “more sensible” — for instance, by having the young subsidize the old. I’m not sure too many young people are regarding paying more for others as sensible.

Along similar lines, “Spandan C” argued on a progressive blog that it was good to force men to pay for maternity benefits that they would never need, because “they are the ones that get women pregnant, and therefore should have to pay part of the cost.” More broadly, higher insurance premiums were just the price Americans must pay to turn health care into “a social good.”

Before: You can keep your doctor. Period.

Now: Making you switch doctors will save you money!

In the Los Angeles Times, Jon Healy tried to argue:

The law may prompt some people’s insurers to trim their provider networks, forcing policyholders to choose between keeping their insurance plan and keeping their doctor.... [But] insurers are trying to cut costs by assembling smaller networks of doctors and hospitals for at least some of the plans they’re offering through the exchanges. So in order to obtain a more affordable plan, some people may have to switch doctors.

But many patients like their current doctor for good reasons and would prefer to pay a little extra to maintain a relationship with someone who understands their specific medical and personal needs. As John Nowak told the Wall Street Journal, “The premium is important to me, but my doctor is more important.”

Mickey Kaus explains the basic problem:

[T]here seems to be a giant fallacy underlying much of the pro-ObamaCare analysis, namely the idea that one doctor is as good as another, and all that really counts is getting Americans to see one of these fungible physicians. Anyone who has had an unusual or complicated disease — or, for most people, a disease of any sort — will tell you this is crazy. It’s as crazy as arguing that all restaurants are alike.

Before: “Death Panels” are just right-wing crazy talk.

Now: “Death Panels” are good!

In Slate, Adam Goldenberg declares, “Canada Has Death Panels — And that’s a good thing.”

Basically, when we all have to pay for one another’s health care, then patients should not be allowed to impose unlimited health costs on other taxpayers. Hence, the government has to decide who does — or does not — receive medical services. He explicitly argues that the government should “play God” with citizens’ lives. For the good of society, of course.

Before: This will be the most transparent administration ever

Now: Lying to Americans was necessary!

Bill Maher pretty much said this to CNN’s Piers Morgan. He admitted that Obama “lied to people” but if he hadn’t then the health law might not have passed. So it was a politically necessary “compromise.”

Lies and broken promises are bad enough. But when Obama administration apologists attempt to spin those as “good,” they’re just insulting our intelligence. At least when the Mafia shakes down local shopkeepers, they don’t try to pretend that it’s for the victims’ own good.

Or as we say here in fly-over country, “Don’t piss on my back and tell me it’s raining.”