In selling us the health reform law, President Obama and his aides offered several claims they knew were untrue.
One was that if you like your insurance, you can keep it.
Another was that the law would significantly reduce health care costs.
Another was that it didn’t cost anything – effectively the White House message when it trumpeted that Obamacare was “fully paid for” by offsetting spending cuts. But these cuts come at a major cost indeed, because they can no longer be used to reduce the deficit.
And another lie was CLASS.
CLASS was the new Obamacare long-term health care insurance benefit. It was a lie because it was never really feasible. As a voluntary program, only the sickest would be wiling to sign up and pay premiums, and without money from healthy individuals, there wouldn’t be enough cash coming in to finance it.
Some believed that the White House was playing a disingenuous game, betting that once the program got up and running and it became clear it would go bankrupt, Congress would be forced to round up funds from healthy people by making CLASS mandatory, perhaps by incorporating it into Medicare.
But the administration was required under the law to somehow make the numbers add up while assuming the program was voluntary, and it couldn’t, so Friday afternoon – when it hoped nobody was looking – it announced that CLASS was out.
The other part of the subterfuge was the claim that CLASS reduced the deficit. Who could imagine – a taxpayer-funded program destined for bankruptcy reduces the deficit! But because the premiums were collected well before payments were to be meted out, Obama was able to claim that over the next ten years CLASS would reduce the deficit by $86 billion. And it was duly scored as such.
Dishonest accounting is not really very new in Washington, though this one was quite a whopper. But of course, Obama was was supposed to be a new kind of politician. Post-partisan, and post-politics.
Many of us from the rock and roll generation must have sang this line by The Who a thousand times, apparently without understanding it: “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”
I’n not saying Obama is made of the same material as George W. Bush. But he is a very run of the mill politician.
I’ve learned covering the White House to expect the opposite when candidates get on a high moral horse. When Bush came in, he said his White House would be marked by “humility.” And his group was the biggest bunch of swaggerers you’d ever seen.
Obama made all kinds of high-minded claims for himself. I believed some of them myself. I’d forgotten that other line from the same song:
“Don’t get fooled again!”