President Pinocchio’s bait and switch

by Jim Longworth

In his address to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 9, 2009, President Obama outlined his vision for healthcare reform. At one point during his speech, the President was reassuring his audience that illegal immigrants would not be covered under the proposed Affordable Care Act (ACA), when he was rudely interrupted by South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson who shouted, “You lie!” Those in attendance and many of us watching at home were appalled by Wilson’s behavior. After all, this was the President of the United States speaking, and it is just not proper for anyone to interrupt the Commander in Chief, much less call him names. I condemned Wilson at the time, and I still think his actions were inappropriate. But last week we learned that Obama deliberately mislead Congress and the nation in order to gain passage of ACA, so now, I must regrettably admit that Mr. Wilson’s concerns were valid.

On July 21, 2009, and 36 times thereafter prior to the passage of ACA, Barack Obama publicly stated the following: “We will keep this promise to the American people. If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your healthcare plan, you’ll be able to keep your healthcare plan. Period.”

It was that promise which eventually persuaded a handful of skeptical congressmen and senators to switch their vote, and help ACA pass by a razor-thin margin. That was then, and this is now. Earlier this month, many Americans started receiving cancellation notices from their insurance company, while NBC’s Lisa Myers reported that the White House knew all along that nearly 15 million people would eventually lose their existing coverage which the President had promised they could keep.

News of the deception went viral, and soon, even liberal pundits were starting to use the “L” word to describe our President. Those included Piers Morgan, John Stewart and Bill Maher, the latter of whom had contributed $1 million to Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. On Nov. 5, the President attempted damage control, implying that his previous promises had been misquoted or misunderstood. “If you had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law, and you really liked that plan, what we said was, you could keep it if it hadn’t changed since the law had passed.” Sorry Mr. President, but that’s not what you said. You said repeatedly that if we liked our healthcare plan, we could keep our healthcare plan. Period. Obama was now pulling the old bait and switch, which Merriam-Webster defines as “the ploy of offering a person something desirable to gain political support, then thwarting expectations with something less desirable.”

White House and Democrat spinmeisters tried to explain that there was no lie, and no bait and switch. They said that the millions of people receiving cancellation notices had inferior policies anyway, and if they were allowed to keep those policies, the rest of us would end up footing the bill, and our premiums would rise. Hey White House lackeys, here’s a newsflash for you: First, you can’t justify a broken promise by pretending that 15 million Americans don’t matter, when the very reason for reform was to make sure everyone had coverage; and second, those of us with grandfathered policies are still going to pay higher premiums even after 5 percent of our population tries to replace their healthcare plan which was just canceled.

For months now I have criticized radical Republicans in Congress who kept calling for a repeal of Obamacare, but now the very architect of that plan has himself given credence to the repeal movement. Simply stated, had the President told Congress that millions of their constituents would not be able to keep their healthcare plan, then ACA would not have passed.

Those of us who believed Obama deserved a second term, have lately had to face the harsh reality that the man who promised various reforms and a commitment to transparency, has delivered just the opposite. And the healthcare debacle isn’t his first offense. He also promised there would be no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens, and that he would cut the deficit in half. And we’re still not exactly sure why he left our embassy at Benghazi unprotected, or why not a single Wall Street pirate has gone to trial for their role in causing the 2008 recession, from which we still haven’t recovered.

Barack Obama has, to say the least, been a disappointment. He was to be a breath of fresh air following the hawkish Bush/Cheney administration, which waged war on the wrong country, and was responsible for the deaths of over a million innocent Iraqi men, women and children. Obama was supposed to be the man who would restore America’s image overseas, and lift our spirits here at home. Instead, our allies are pissed off at him for tapping their phones, and his own people are pissed off at him because they still can’t make a living wage, and now can’t keep their healthcare policy. There’s just no respectful or polite way to say this, but Barack Obama is not just a bad President, he’s a liar. Period.

JIM LONGWORTH is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11am on WMYV (cable channel 15).