Somewhere in the Pileus archives is a post I wrote about how if the lie you tell is so outrageous, the public gives you a pass.
Example 1: When the party in power in a state says, “Our goal in redistricting is not to increase our partisan advantage but is to _____________.” It doesn’t matter what is in the blank. Whichever party is in power will pursue partisan advantage. No one expects anything different, but for some reason, we give the politicians a pass. Everyone knows it is a lie, so it is OK.
Example 2: University presidents or ADs from big football conferences like the SEC give some speech about why the reason they oppose a playoff system is because _____________. More comical explanations are that they are concerned about “disrupting the academic schedules of their student athletes.” As if any football player in the SEC reads anything other than his playbook (OK, a few do, but you get my point). But because the lie is so outrageous, they get away with it.
Perhaps President Obama was thinking the same thing when he said over and over again, “If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it. Period.” Not “most of the time,” not if your plan meets the new regulations. But, “Period.”
Of course Obama knew this was an outrageous untruth. He is a very smart man. This untruth is not just an aspect of the ACA that a busy Chief Executive might have missed. A detail left to the bureaucrats. The fact that not everyone gets to keep their plan is the central mechanism that makes the individual insurance market hang together.
This is why the individual mandate to buy insurance is essential for the ACA math to work out and for the insurance industry to stay solvent. Basically, the ACA over-insures and over-charges young, healthy people (especially men) so that it can use their premiums to fund the policies of the older and less healthy. Everyone involved in the design of the plan knew that. There was never a mystery about it.
The “you can keep your plan” lie is sort like saying, “if you don’t want to buy gas for your new car, you don’t have to.” If a car salesman were to say such a thing, he’d surely get away with it. The customer would laugh and think the salesman has a cute sense of humor.
But millions of people are not laughing now. They didn’t realize that when the President was saying that, he didn’t mean it literally, for goodness sakes! He meant, “many people will be made better off by this law, but some of you will be toast; I’m sure y’all are OK with that (wink).”
Turns out, not everyone was in on the joke.