What We Don’t Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate

It hasn’t been an uncommon gripe among liberals that Barack Obama has somehow not communicated his ideas on health care reform clearly. I don’t have a link, but I’ve seen Bill Maher argue something like this, and I’ve heard it a number of times either around the office or in conversations with other people. Steve Benen — not complaining — mentions the criticism today, in the context of some disheartening polling which shows the public to remain confused about the various health care reforms on the table. Steve sensibly points out that Obama has made constant efforts to promote reform, and what’s more, is fighting an uphill battle because Congress has yet to coalesce around a single proposal. This is all true, but I think there’s a simpler explanation. From an NBC/WSJ poll:

As you can see, there are large swathes of the public — majorities in some cases — who believe things that are categorically false, but have nonetheless been peddled by Republican operatives, politicians and conservative members of the media. Indeed, Republicans have mounted a concerted strategy to lie about the particulars of health care reform, scaring vulnerable demographics into opposition. And despite the White House’s efforts — and the occasional debunking in the main stream pressresearch indicates that once a lie or distortion has entered the public debate, it’s basically impossible to undo the damage. Matters are not helped by a mainstream media that sees as part of its mission of even handedness to continue quoting people who are lying.

All these things considered, it seems quite difficult to blame President Obama for failing to communicate clearly. Strategically speaking, I think there are a number of things the White House could have done differently — for example, adjust more quickly to Republican obstructionism (arguably Max Baucus is most deserving of blame for this, though the White House could have done something to put the heat on), but I don’t think it’s been a failure of messaging per se.


3 Responses to “What We Don’t Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate”

  1. jonolan Says:

    Except that none of those things are categorically false. Each and every one of them is – while hyperbolic and over simplified – based upon facts contained in HR 3200, which is currently the only health care reconstruction bill getting any real play in DC.

    Illegals won’t get affordability credits for health insurance, but section 1702 of HR 3200 reduces the allowed questioning about residency status by agencies for receiving Medicaid which will allow illegals to to receive Medicaid coverage that they’re not legally entitled to.

  2. Jon Says:

    Yeah — I’ve seen this elsewhere, but the actual relevant parts of the bill — 242 and 246 — explicitly bar illegal immigrants from receiving anything in the bill. While it’s true that section 1702 reduces agencies abilities to question residency status, the reason this is in the bill is because we actually waste tax money denying Americans coverage they are due under Medicaid (http://oversight.house.gov/documents/20070724110341.pdf). Anyway, what about the death panels? Government funded abortions? Or the dread government takeover?

  3. jonolan Says:


    Section 1702 is as relevant as Sections 242 and 246 since it would create a system by which illegal immigrants would receive – fraudulently – subsidized / free healthcare through the legislation found in HR 3200.

    You might notice that I said both sides were being disingenuous through hyperbole and/or oversimplification.

    On death panels – There’s nothing written down that would create such, but Dr. Emanuel’s proclivities indicate that coverage required from policies on the Exchange and the Public Option would – for budgetary concerns – not favor newborns, the disabled, or the elderly.

    It’s certainly not a guarantee that this would happen, but it’s a strong possibility. Massachusetts just made a similar “hard choice” in their healthcare program, but they chose to target non-citizen residents (green card holders) for a reduction in coverage instead of basing their decision and “usefulness to society” on age.

    On Abortion – Be assured that voluntary, non-medically required abortions will be offered by plans on the Exchange. They will probably be offered under Basic coverage. Since anyone earning 4x the poverty level or less will receive subsidies, ObamaCare will fund abortions.

    How could it do otherwise? One, it’s a sadly legal procedure. Two, it’s covered under most private plans today and millions of women are expected to shift from employer-provided health insurance to the Exchange. There’s no way that various Feminist groups and Planned Parenthood would allow the coverage / funding to be absent.

    Notice that you don’t hear those groups complaining? Do you think they’d be silent if they thought that abortions would be covered and therefor subsidized?

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