By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Obama’s “remarks” are a sales pitch. WaPo’s MoDo, Dana Milbank: “Not since the Ginsu knife cut through an aluminum can and still sliced a tomato has America seen a pitch quite like the one President Obama delivered.” Much more importantly, Jon Stewart: “When did the President of the United States turn into Gill from the Simpsons?” The Wordle tells the story; let’s break out the color coding magic markers:
Obama’s selling insurance.
I thought for awhile that I’d have to invent a new color code for explicit shilling, but then I realized I had it already: Bathos, the abrupt transition in style from the exalted to the commonplace. Here, the exalted would be the dignity of the Presidential office; and the commonplace would be the “Come on down!” of The Price is Right. Very sad, especially when we consider the feelings of those who considered Obama some sort of Bodhisattva.
Technically, I find the speech interesting for two reasons: first, the dexterity with which Obama manages to evade all responsibility for the debacle of the website; second, the moment when he starts using using his favorite rhetorical device, anaphora, and immediately begins to emit utterly copious streams of bullshit, such that whole paragraphs get colored bathetic. It’s like watching a fighter jet take off and head for the vertical, trailing smoke and flames.
Anyhow, as usual color coding Obama is necessary to keep the record straight and it’s also, in a sick sort of way, fun.
However, these posts also have a very serious, even a deadly serious, purpose: Public speaking is utterly necessary for effective civic engagement. It’s not enough to have good thoughts or a good heart; you have to be able to express yourself in front of other people! So, by studying masters of rhetoric like Obama, we can learn his techniques and, unless they involve bullshit, turn them to our own purposes.
A mish-mash of phrases from the Framers, Lincoln and MLK echoes, and so forth
Bathos is an abrupt transition in style from the exalted to the commonplace
“Free market,” “innovation,” “hard choices” etc.
“Our most vulnerable citizens”
“The troops,” for example
“Ring the changes on,” “take up the cudgel for,” “toe the line,” “ride roughshod over,” etc. (Orwell)
Falsehood or truthiness
Lawyerly parsing and weasel wording
“Ladies and gentleman,” and so forth.
Everybody, have a seat.
MS. BAKER: 1 Hello. My name is Janice Baker. I have the privilege to say that I’m the first person in the state of Delaware to enroll for health insurance through the new marketplace.(Applause.) Like many consumers out there, it took me a number of frustrating attempts2before I could apply for and select my plan. I kept trying because I needed access to the new health care options.
I had applied to three private insurance companies only to be rejected due to preexisting health conditions. I am too young for Medicare, but I’m too old not to have some health issues.3I was able to find a policy I am thrilled with, saving $150 a month, and much lower deductibles than my previous policy that I held through my small business.
I’m here today to encourage other people like me who needs access to quality, affordable insurance, and to tell them to have patience with such a new system.4 Without this ability to get this insurance, I know that a single hospital stay could have bankrupted me and my business.5
Thank you all. And I am now honored to introduce the President of the United States. (Applause.)
- We can be sure that if Obama had good numbers, he would deploy them, in addition to anecdotes. He does not.
“[T]he new marketplace” in Delaware is a state Exchange (marketplace), so Baker’s remarks are not germane to the Federal Exchange (Obama’s responsibility), although a careless listener might think otherwise.
- Seven hours worth.
- Alas for Obama, Baker is a walking case study of adverse selection, and not the sort of “young invincible” Obama needs to appeal to in his misguided quest for actuarial soundness in a social insurance program. More, if Obama had a “young invincible” to put on display, it’s a hundred to one he would have.
- If people had followed Baker’s advice, this event would never have happened, because there would have been no pressure on Obama.
- It still could, given the results with ObamaCare’s predecessor in Massachusetts, RomneyCare, especially if Ms. Baker requires out-of-network care from a specialist.
MS. BAKER: Thank you. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.)
Thank you, everybody. Well, thank you, Janice. And thanks to everybody here for coming on this beautiful day. Welcome to the White House.
About three weeks ago, as the federal government shut down, the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces1 opened for business across the country. Well, we’ve now gotten the government back open for the American people, and today I want to talk about how we’re going to get the marketplaces running at full steam, as well.2 And I’m joined today by folks who have either benefited from the Affordable Care Act already, or who are helping their fellow citizens3 learn about what this law means for them and how they can get covered.4
- First use of “marketplace” (16 total).
- Yet not, presumably, “steam powered.” Obama seeks to associate the Marketplace #FAIL with the shutdown, even though ObamaCare funding was mandatory and not affected.
- Obama’s first and only use of “citizens.” Four uses of “consumer” follow, in addition to the single use by Baker, since “consumers,” as opposed to “citizens,” participate Marketplaces. In the ideal market state, all relations between citizen and State (except those of compliance or coercion) would be mediated by a market.
- “Get covered” (punched 5 times) seems to be what people should do and what ObamaCare offers.
Of course, you’ve probably heard that HealthCare.gov – the new website where people can apply for health insurance, and browse and buy affordable plans in most1 states –- . And the number of people who have visited the site has been overwhelming2, which has of 3 underlying problems.
- Obama lies and deflects without shame or remorse. The site crashed almost immediately after launch with a couple of thousand users.
- Some? These? Which?
Despite all that, 1 and saving money as we speak2. Many Americans with a preexisting condition, like Janice, are discovering that they can finally get health insurance .3
- How many? And have they “signed up” in the sense of having gotten site accounts, or in the sense of having actually purchased insurance? No matter the answer, Obama would be giving the numbers if they would help him close the sale, rather than the few anecdotes he gives.
- As FDR said: “The only thing we have to fear is not saving money.” The only people saving money “as we speak” have made it all the way through the application process and been approved by the insurance company, an unknown number, or are getting coverage comparable to what they have now, again an unknown number.
- Visionary minimalism. Pre-existing conditions plus “saving money” on the premiums (never mind co-pays or deductibles) seems to be the pitch, though later in the speech Obama moves on to “security.” But getting insurance “like everybody else” is not the same as having insurance like everybody else has; thin networks may not have specialists, for example. If you live in Maine in Piscataquid County, you could pay a thousand dollars more for the same plan than if you live in Cumberland County. True, covering pre-existing conditions is good. It’s just not nearly good enough, as measured by first-world standards.
So today, I want to speak to every American who’s looking to get affordable health insurance.1 I want you to know what’s available to you and why it a good deal for you. And for those who’ve had with the website, I want to tell you what we’re doing to and how you can sign up to get covered2 in other ways.
- From selling hope and change to just selling. Put. That coffee. Down. ObamaCare’s for closers only.
- Punching “get covered” again. Must have focus grouped, and I bet for “young invincibles.”
But before I do that, let me remind everybody that the Affordable Care Act is not just a website.1 It’s much more. For the vast majority of Americans — for 85 percent of Americans who already have health insurance through your employer or Medicare or Medicaid -– you don’t need to sign up for coverage through a website at all. You’ve already got coverage.2 What the Affordable Care Act does for you is to provide you with new benefits and protections that have been in place for some time. You may not know it, but you’re already benefiting from these provisions 3
- No serious critique of the rollout considered the ACA or the IT system that supports it as “just a website.” The website is the frontend, but by all accounts there are backend problems, too (frontend vs. backend). Most serious among them: Incorrect eligibility determination, and corrupt “834s” (application data) forwarded to insurance companies, such that they must re-enter the data manually. Now, all the other ways to apply – by phone, or through a navigator, or on paper – also depend on the backend eligibility engine throwing people into the right subsidy bucket, and on passing correct 834s to the insurance companies. The other things that ObamaCare does – no pre-existing conditions, kids on their parents’ polices – do not require the Marketplace, eligibility determination, subsidy, or the mandate. And the Marketplace, eligibility determination, subsidy calculation, and enforcing the mandate at the IRS all depend on IT. So, everything that makes ObamaCare ObamaCare, while not “just a website,” is most definitely an IT system. So Obama is equivocating here in a totally swivel-eyed fashion.
- Or not!
- “In the law.” Exactly. And since none of these provisions require eligibility, subsidy, or the mandate, the ObamaCare IT system could be blown into bits tomorrow and people would still benefit from “the law.”
For example, because of the Affordable Care Act, young people like Jasmine Jennings, and Jessica Ugalde, and Ezra Salop, all of whom are here today, they’ve been able to stay on their parents’ plans until they’re 26. Millions of other young people are currently benefiting from that part of the law. (Applause.) Another part of the Affordable Care Act is providing seniors with deeper discounts on their prescription medicine. Billions of dollars have been saved by seniors already. That’s part of the law. It’s already in place. It’s happening right now.1
- None of these minor tweak benefits require the Marketplace, eligibility determination, subsidy, or the mandate. These benefits are the bait. ObamaCare is the switch.
Already, because of the Affordable Care Act, preventive care like mammograms and birth control are free through your employers. That’s part of this law.1 (Applause.) So there are a wide range of consumer protections and benefits that you already have if you’ve got health insurance. You may not have noticed them, but you’ve got them, and they’re not going anywhere.And they’re not dependent on a website.2
- See note above. More bait and switch.
- Epistrophe, ending a series of lines, phrases, clauses, or sentences with the same word or words. Obama will now end a number of paragraphs with “not dependent on a website” or similar. To my (extremely cynical) ear, this sounds like ending paragraphs with “Look! Over there!”.
Here’s another thing that the Affordable Care Act does. In states where governors and legislatures have wisely allowed it, the Affordable Care Act provides the opportunity1 for many Americans to get covered under Medicaid for the first time. So in Oregon, for example, that’s helped cut the number of uninsured people by 10 percent just in the last three weeks. Think about that. That’s 56,000 more Americans who now have health care.2, 3 (Applause.) That doesn’t depend on a website.
- People do not have the “opportunity” to get Medicaid. They are forced into it if their income is under 138% of the Federal Poverty Line. This is important to over-55s, since Medicaid costs will be clawed back from their estates.
- No. They have health insurance. That’s not the same as having health care. In this speech, Obama constantly shifts and equivocates between health care and health insurance; this equivocation implicit in the very (Orwellian) name, the Affordable Care Act, as well is the very (Orwellian) URL, healthcare.gov.
- Like everything else ObamaCare (albeit inconsistently and capriciously) delivers, that’s good. It’s just not good enough.
Now, if you’re one of the 15 percent1 of Americanswho don’t have health insurance — either because you can’t afford it or because your employer doesn’t offer it, or because you’re a small businessperson and you have to go out on the individual market and buy it on your own and it’s just too expensive — October 1st was an important date. That’s when we opened the new marketplaces where people without health insurance, or who can’t afford health insurance, or who aren’t part of a group plan, can 2 finally start getting affordable coverage.
- That is, a small, marginal, othered population.
- Must. ObamaCare has a mandate.
And the idea is simple. By enrolling in what we’re calling these marketplaces, you become part of a big group plan — as if you were working for a big employer1– a statewide2M group plan that spreads risk between sick people and healthy people, between young and old3, and then bargains on your behalf4 for the best deal on health care.5 What we’ve done is create a competition where there wasn’t competition before.6 We created these big group plans, and now insurers are really interested in getting your business7. And so insurers have created new health care plans with more choices to be made available through these marketplaces8.
- Sounds like socialism; in fact, if there were collective ownership of the means of production, it would be socialism. Surprisingly, the right wing nomenklatura isn’t all over this. I hate to deploy “the party of stupid” trope, but really, when you see a missed opportunity like this, what can you say?
- Many plans are not statewide; Covered California has plans whose prices vary by county.
- Why does a government program need to adopt the actuarial model for social insurance. Sure, because The Market, but any deeper reason?
- How on earth does an insurance company “bargain on your behalf”? Is ObamaCare one big union? WTF?
- No, the best deal for health insurance. Health insurance is not health care.
- Not true for in- and out-of-network specialists. Not true for monopoly states.
- Come on down!
- More choice isn’t necessarily good. And because actuarial value is an art not a science, it’s not at all clear that the plans in practice will be commensurable, no matter the bullet points on the website.
And as a result of this choice and this competition, prices have come down1. When you add the new tax credits that many people are eligible for through the law, then the prices come down even further. So one study shows that through new options created by the Affordable Care Act, nearly 6 in 10 uninsured Americans will find that they can get covered2 for less than $100 a month. Think about that. (Applause.)
- Medical costs are down because the economy is in the toilet. In any case, we need to know, not just the premium – and since Obama relentlessly points us there, we know it’s a distraction – but the co-pays, the deductibles, and how the value of the plan nets out.
- Punches “get covered.” On the other, I’d have to see the study and the plans, not just the premiums, to know if the plans were good value. WaPo’s fact checker rates this claim pending.
Through the marketplaces, you can get health insurance for what may be the equivalent of your cell phone bill1 or your cable bill, and that’s a good deal.
- Obama should really stop repeating this lie.
So the fact is the product of the Affordable Care Act for people without health insurance is quality health insurance that’s affordable.1 And that product is working.It’s really good. And it turns out there’s a massive demand for it.So far, the national website, HealthCare.gov, has been visited nearly 20 million times.2 Twenty million times. (Applause.) And there’s great demand at the state level as well, because3 there are a bunch of states that are running their own marketplaces.
- At this point, I don’t see how we can know this on basis other than taking it on trust.
- Hits are not conversions.
- How does the mere existence of a marketplace show demand? (Yes, the states have much, much better conversion rates, but that’s not the claim Obama makes.)
We know that nearly one-third1 of the people in Connecticut and Maryland, for example, are under 35 years old.2 They understand that they can get a good deal at low costs, have the security of health care, and this is not just for old folks like me — that everybody needs good quality health insurance.3 And all told, more than half a million consumers across the country have successfully 4 applicationsthrough federal and state marketplaces. And many of those applications aren’t just for individuals, it’s for their entire families. So even more people are already looking to take advantage of the high quality, affordable insurance that is provided through the Affordable Care Act.
- No absolute numbers. And what does “apply” mean? Apply for an account, or apply for insurance?
- If this were not a very small sample, Obama would surely quote it.
- No, everybody needs good quality health care. Health insurance is not health care.
- Again, “submitted” for an account, or insurance?The only numbers that count toward Obama’s goal of 7 million are people who have been approved by insurance companies. So far, so little data has reached the insurance companies that they can process the applications manually (which they have to anyhow, because the data is corrupt).
So let me just recap here. The product is good. The health insurance that’s being provided is good. It’s high quality and it’s affordable. People can save money, significant money, by getting insurance that’s being provided through these marketplaces. And we know that the demand is there. People are rushing to see what’s available. And those who have already had a chance to enroll are thrilled with the result. Every day,people who were stuck with sky-high premiums because of preexisting conditions are getting affordable insurance for the first time, or finding, like Janice did, that they’re saving a lot of money. Every day, women are finally buying coverage that doesn’t charge them higher premiums than men for the same care. (Applause.) Every day, people are discovering that new health insurance plans have to cover maternity care, mental health care, free preventive care. 1
- Anaphora, repetition of the same word or group of words at the beginning of successive clauses, sentences, or lines. “Every day… Every day… Every day…..” This is Obama’s favorite rhetorical figure. He is hitting his stride!
So you just heard Janice’s story — she owns her own small business. She recently became 1 to enroll in coverage through Delaware’s exchange. And it’s true, it took her a few tries2, but it was worth it after being turned down for insurance three times due to minor preexisting conditions.3 So now she’ll be4 covered, she’ll save 150 bucks a month, and she won’t have to worry that illness or accident will cost her her business that she’s worked so hard to build.5
- And the first person!
- Seven hours (supra).
- Again, I’m happy Janice is covered. Is everybody? No. Does ObamaCare bring our health care system to first world standards? No.
- Anaphora again: “She’ll be…She’ll save…She won’t… She’s worked.” From here on he is soaring.
- Not if experience of RomneyCare is any guide (supra). Medical bankruptcy is still a problem in Masachusetts.
And Janice is not alone. I recently received a letter from a woman named Jessica Sanford in Washington State. And here’s what she wrote: “I am a single mom, no child support, self-employed, and I haven’t had insurance for 15 years because it’s too expensive. My son has ADHD and requires regular doctor visits and his meds alone cost $250 per month. I have had an ongoing tendinitis problem due to my line of work that I haven’t had treated. Now, finally, we get to have coverage because of the ACA for $169 per month. I was crying the other day when I signed up. So much stress lifted.”1
- Again, I’m happy Jessica and her son covered (though I also wish the economy weren’t still in the tank so Jessica had better employment choices). Is everybody covered? No. Does ObamaCare bring our health care system to first world standards? No.
Now, that is for folks like Jessica who have been struggling without health insurance. That’s what the Affordable Care Act is all about. The point is, the essence of the law — — is working just fine. , actually, it’s — the prices are lower , the choice is greater .1
- How many cases is “some”? And is prices were lower and choice is greater “than we expected,” could it be that the estimates were gamed?
But the problem has been that the website1 that’s supposed to make it easy to apply for and purchase the insurance is . And there’s no sugarcoating it. The website has been , people have been during the application process. And I think it’s fair to say that nobody2 is more frustrated by that than I am– precisely because the product is good, I want the cash registers to work. I want the checkout lines to be smooth. So I want people to be able to get this great product. And there’s no excuse for the problems,and these problems are getting fixed.3
- No, the entire system, frontend and backend together, with all the systems integration issues.
- “Nobody”? Really? Obama’s got a pre-existing condition or has been without insurance for 15 years?
- So who’s accountable?
But while we’re working out the , I want everybody to understand the nature of the problem. First1 of all, even with all the problems at HealthCare.gov, the website is still working for 2– just not as quick or efficient or consistent . And although many of these folks have found that they had to wait longer than they wanted, once they complete the process they’re very happy3 with the deal that’s available to them, Janice’s.
- Eutrepismus, numbering and ordering the parts under consideration; “One… Two… Three… Four….” Artfully, Obama does not number steps in a solution, but provides a laundry list, a numbered miscellany. He minimizes the problems in points one and two, claims he has a plan to have a plan in point three, and suggests an alternative in point four (incidentally showing that the outcome from point three will at least not be immediate). But he sounds organized.
- How much is “a lot”?
Second, I want everybody to remember that we’re only three weeks into a six-month open enrollment period, when you can buy these new plans.(Applause.) Keep in mind the insurance doesn’t start until January 1st; that’s the earliest that the insurance can kick in.1 No one who decides to purchase a plan has to pay their first premium until December 15th. And unlike the day after Thanksgiving sales for the latest Playstation or flat-screen TVs, the insurance plans don’t run out. 2They’re not going to sell out. They’ll be available through the marketplace — (applause) — throughout the open enrollment period. The prices that insurers have set will not change. So everybody who wants insurance through the marketplace will get insurance, period.3(Applause.) Everybody who wants insurance through the marketplace will get insurance.4
- I hate this argument. People are being mandated to buy a product that could cost them thousands of dollars, and I’m sure they would like to be able to plan for the purchase, especially before the end of the year, when their taxes (and what they determine to be their income) could be affected. January 1 has nothing at all to do with this. And yet Obana tells them “all in good time” – when the administration had three years and a squillion dollars to do the job right!
- Obama thinks his audience of
citizensconsumers doesn’t know this. Odd.
- Conduplicatio, the repetition of a word or words. In this case, the same complete sentence, twice, for emphasis.
- If they want it enough, yes. Anyhow, they had better want it, because they’re mandated to get it.
Third, we are doing everything we can do to get the websites1 working better, faster, sooner. We’ve got people working overtime, 24/7, to boost capacity and address the problems. Experts from some of America’s top private-sector tech companies who, by the way, have seen things like this happen before2, they want it to work. They’re reaching out. They’re offering to send help. We’ve had some of the best IT talent in the entire country join the team.3 And we’re well into a “tech surge” to fix the problem. And we are confident that we will get all the problems fixed.4
- All the more reason for the Federal Marketplace developers to run their complete test suite! Which they never did.
- Brooks’s Law: “Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.”
- Not possible, even though Obama didn’t say when the bugs would be fixed. “Program testing can be used to show the presence of bugs, but never to show their absence” (Edsger Dijkstra).
Number four — while the website be the easiest way to buy insurance through the marketplace, it isn’t the only way. And I want to emphasize this. Even as we our efforts to get the site to, we’re also redoubling our efforts to make sure you can still buy the same quality, affordable insurance plans available on the marketplace the old-fashioned way — offline, either over the phone or in person.
And, by the way, there are a lot of people who want to take advantage of this1 who are more comfortable working on the phone anyway or in person. So let me go through the specifics as to how you can do that if you’re having problems with the website or you just prefer dealing with a person.
- Probably not, however, the “young invincibles” with their cell phones and tablets, who must be enrolled if ObamaCare is to succeed in actuarial terms.
Yesterday, we updated the website’s home page to offer more information about the other avenues1 to enroll in affordable health care until the online option works for everybody. So you’ll find information about how to talk to a specialist who can help you apply over the phone or to receive a downloadable application you can fill out yourself and mail in.
- This is Serco, the UK firm hired in July. Since they are enmeshed in an over-billing scandal in the UK where they inflated the number of their clients, we will want to examine their numbers carefully.
We’ve also added more staff to the call centers where you can apply for insurance over the phone. Those are already — they’ve been working. But a lot of people have decided first to go to the website. But keep in mind, these call centers are already up and running. And you can get your questions answered by real people, 24 hours a day, in 150 different languages. The phone number for these call centers is 1-800-318-2596. I want to repeat that — 1-800-318-2596. Wait times have averaged less than one minute so far on the call centers, although I admit that the wait times probably might go up a little bit now that I’ve read the number out loud on national television. (Laughter.)
But the point is the call centers are available. You can talk to somebody directly and they can walk you through the application process. And I guarantee you, if one thing is worth the wait, 1 by buying health insurance through the marketplaces. (Applause.)
- Yet once more Obama conflates health insurance and health care.
Once you get on the phone with a trained representative, it usually takes about 25 minutes for an individual to apply for coverage, about 45 minutes for a family.1 Once you apply for coverage, you will be contacted by email or postal mail about your coverage status.
But you don’t have to just go through the phone. You can also apply in person with the help of local navigators – these are people specially trained to help you sign up for health care, and they exist all across the country, or you can go to community health centers and hospitals. Just visit LocalHelp.HealthCare.govto1 find out where in your area you can get help and apply for insurance in person.
- Just to be ornery, I went there and typed in my zip to find the “local help” in my area. Horrible user experience, nothing like a shopping site. A list of 42 possibilities. Big, cellphone-style typesize on my laptop, 10 per page, so 5 pages to click and then scroll through, with no way to get all the hits on one page for quick scanning. No rhyme or reason for the order of the results. No way to sort by name or location. No way to filter the results by facet (like size, color, and price on a shopping site); filtering by proximity (“within 10 miles”) would have been useful. Of course, the most useful presentation of all for “local help” would have been on a map. I hear Google has an API that will help developers set that kind of thing up. Ha ha. What a mess. Insulting and condescending to users, because wasteful of their time.
And finally, if you’ve already tried to apply through the website and you’ve been stuck somewhere along the way, do not worry. In the coming weeks, we will contact you directly, personally, with a concrete recommendation for how you can complete your application, shop for coverage, pick a plan that meets your needs, and get covered once and for all.1
- So Obama just incentivized failed applications, right?
So here’s the bottom line. The product, the health insurance is good. The prices are good. It is a good deal. People don’t just want it; they’re showing up to buy it. Nobody is madder than me1 about the fact that , which means it’s going to get fixed.(Laughter and applause.)
- Seems a little late for the CEO to get mad about a late project. Is Obama saying that he only found out about the problems after the launch? If so, what does that say about the administration? If not, why didn’t Obama get mad before? Is anybody accountable for this debacle?
And , you can bypass the website and apply by phone or in person. So don’t let problems with the website deter you from signing up, or signing your family up, or showing your friends how to sign up, because it is worth it. It will save you money. If you don’t have health insurance, if you’ve got a preexisting condition, it will save you money and it will give you the security that your family needs.
In fact, even with the website issues, we’ve actually made the overall process of buying insurance through the marketplace a lot smoother and easier than the old way of buying insurance on your own. Part of the challenge here is that a lot of people may not remember what it’s like to buy insurance the traditional way.
The way we’ve set it up, there are no more absurdly long application forms.1 There’s no medical history questionnaire that goes on for pages and pages. There’s no more getting denied because you’ve had a preexisting condition. Instead of contacting a bunch of different insurers one at a time, which is what Janice and a lot of people who are shopping on the individual market for health insurance had to do, there’s one single place you can go shop and compare plans that have to compete for your business. There’s one single phone number you can call for help. And once the kinks in the website have been ironed out, it will be an even smoother and even easier. But in the meantime, we will help you sign up — because consumers want to buy this product and insurance companies want to sell it to you.
- Obama’s decision to redesign the input form three months before launch was a cause of delay and rework, certainly for the Connecticut exchange.
Now, let me close by addressing some of the politics that have swirled around the Affordable Care Act. I recognize that the Republican Party has made blocking the Affordable Care Act its signature policy idea. Sometimes it seems to be the one thing that unifies the party these days. (Laughter.) In fact, they were willing to shut down the government and potentially harm the global economy to try to get it repealed.1 And I’m sure that given the problems with the website so far, they’re going to be looking to go after it even harder. And let’s admit it — with the website not working as well as it needs to work, that makes a lot of supporters nervous because they know how it’s been subject to so much attack, the Affordable Care Act generally.
- A tremendous, unheard of gift to Obama, since otherwise the Marketplace Launch clusterfaak would have been front page news for the last three weeks. Like I said, I hate to deploy “the party of stupid”…. Could the Republican’s oppo have been so poor that they actually believed the administration’s assurances that all was well?!?!
But I just want to remind everybody, we did not wage this long and contentious battle just around a website. That’s not what this was about.1 (Applause.) We waged this battle sto make sure that 2 2.3 That’s what this is about. (Applause.) And the Affordable Care Act has done that. 4
- Antithesis, juxtaposition of contrasting words or ideas (often, although not always, in parallel structure). “[W]e did not wage…. .We waged…”
- No, they don’t have a chance. It’s mandate. A chance is a choice.
- Note the lawyerly parsing of words. Obama says “millions… have the same chance… as anybody else.” That is most definitely not the same as saying “anybody… has the same chance…. as anybody else.” That’s because, even when fully implemented, ObamaCare will cover at most half of the existing uninsured. Note one more conflation of health insurance with health care.
- No, it hasn’t. It might, partly, after January 1, when coverage begins.
People can now get good insurance. People with preexisting conditions can now afford insurance. And if the launch of this website proves anything, it’s that people across the country don’t just need that security, they want that security.1 They want it.2 (Applause.) And in the meantime — I’ve said many times — I’m willing to work with anyone on any idea3 to make this law perform even better. But it’s time for folks to stop rooting for its failure4, because hardworking, middle-class families are rooting for its success. (Applause.) And if the product is good, they’re willing to be patient.5
- Antithesis, juxtaposition of contrasting words or ideas (often, although not always, in parallel structure). “… don’t just need, they want….”
- Conduplicatio, The repetition of a word or words. “… they want… They want it.”
- Except single payer.
- I’m rooting for ObamaCare’s success – as I define success. I don’t want people to suffer, so I want people – especially those who really need care, since alleviating suffering is far more important than actuarial value or CEO bonuses – to “get covered.” However, I think that the ObamaCare launch debacle provides single payer advocates with an unparalleled teaching opportunity to show people that there really are better alternatives, and as the actual plans on offer become more and more public, many additional teaching moments will appear. So, despite the efforts of the Democratic nomenklatura to tell us to SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP, I’m making the most of the opportunities for single payer advocacy. There will never be a better time.
I got a letter last week from a self-employed man named John Mier in Leetsdale, Pennsylvania.He used the new marketplace to get himself and his wife covered and save a lot of money. And here’s what he said, because it pretty much sums up my message today: “Yes, the website really stank for the first week.”(Laughter.) “But instead of paying $1,600 per month for a group insurance plan, we have a plan that will only cost us $692 a month –- a savings of $900 per month.” (Applause.) John said that while he saw — when he saw what they’d be paying, he turned to his wife and told her, “We might just pull through. We can afford this.” And John eventually predicted that “the website will work like a champ.” 1
- Macrologia, longwindedness. Using more words than are necessary in an attempt to appear eloquent. The speech reminds me of Nixon’s Checker’s speech, where IIRC Nixon was still speaking, on camera, when he ran out of time. Of course without the cute dog, Checkers, but I suppose Obama’s stage of anecdotalists could be seen to have been used to fill that role.
So John, he was frustrated by the website, but he’s feeling a little less frustrated once he found out that he was saving 900 bucks a month on his health insurance. (Applause.) And John is right, the website is going to get fixed and the law works. That’s why we fought so hard to pass this law — to save folks like John money; to give people who don’t have health insurance it for the first time; to lift from the American people the crushing burden of unaffordable health care;1 to free families from the pervasive fear that one illness — (on-stage participant becomes ill) — there you go, you are ok. I’m right here. I got you. (Laughter.) No, no — you’re okay. This happens when I talk too long. (Laughter.) You’ll be okay. Here, why don’t you go. (Applause.)
Good catch, by the way, whoever was here. (Laughter.) 2
- Note not “all the American people.” And health insurance is not health care.
- People often fainted at Obama campaign appearances in 2008,
But that’s always our goal1, to free families from the pervasive fear that one illness or one injury might cost you everything2 that you dedicated a lifetime to build. Our goal has always been to declare that in this country the security of health care is not a privilege for a fortunate few. It’s a right3 for all to enjoy.(Applause.) That’s what the Affordable Care Act is all about. That’s its promise. And I intend to deliver on that promise.
- No. The goal of ObamaCare (RomneyCare (HeritageCare)) is to head off single payer and build the health insurance companies into the health care system forever.
- As long as you don’t need care out-of-network. For example.
- If the “security of health care” is indeed a right, as Obama here states that it is, than making access to that security vary whimsically by jurisdiction, age, and income is unconscionable. That is the fundamental failing of ObamaCare. There is much in ObamaCare that is good. It’s just not nearly good enough by first-world standards. ObamaCare will be a success if its own failings lead to its replacement by a truly universal system, and that as soon as possible.
Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. (Applause.)
I shouldhave a conclusion, but after processing material like this, I would really rather go somewhere quietly and lie down, thinking of nothing. There is probably much more bullshit in this speech than I was able to code. As usual, my real problem is that I’m never cynical enough. And I do try.