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Health care and a history of misleading the public

The government has a long history of misleading the public in order to pass legislation it wants.

For instance, in the 1960s President Lyndon Johnson pressed his allies in Congress to suppress the true cost of his big health care legislation, Medicare and Medicaid, in order to garner enough support to get it passed.LBJ

According to taped conversations, President Johnson, speaking with Senator Ted Kennedy in 1962, describes how suppressing costs was vital to passing his bill, because if voters and their representatives in Congress knew how much the bill would actually cost over the long term they would be outraged,

“A health program yesterday runs 300 million, but the fools had to go to projecting it down the road five or six years. And when you project the first year, it runs 900 million. Now I don’t know whether I would approve 900 million the second year or not. I might approve 450 or 500. But the first thing Dick Russell comes running in, saying my God, you’ve got a billion dollar program for next year on health, therefore I’m against any of it now. Do you follow me?”

Not surprisingly, the projections the government made were wildly off. In 1967 the House Ways and Means Committee predicted Medicare would cost $12 billion in 1990. The actual cost was $98 billion.

Today, we find that something similar to LBJ’s dishonesty has happened with President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. For years the president repeated the refrain, “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.” Once it became clear that wasn’t true, the president apologized to the millions of Americans who lost their insurance plans because of Obamacare.

GruberNow, the health care overhaul has come under additional fire because of statements from its chief architect, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber. Videos show Gruber saying the law was written so that its mandates weren’t scored by budgeters as taxes, because, as LBJ said, Americans wouldn’t support it otherwise. Gruber said the law was written so as to obscure the wealth redistribution at its core, because again, the public wouldn’t support it otherwise. In Gruber’s words, “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.”

It seems that after Obamacare’s passage, and seemingly clear of the need to continue lying, Jonathan Gruber made the rounds at various conferences around the country, being quite clear about how the administration viewed the public:

“They proposed it and that passed, because the American people are too stupid to understand the difference.”

“It’s a very clever, you know, basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter.”

“And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass.”

Perhaps the worst thing Gruber said though was this:

“We could make it all transparent. But I’d rather have this law than not.”

This should be outrageous to anyone interested in responsible citizenship. This law wasn’t hard to communicate to the American public because it was complicated. It was purposely obscured so as to confuse what was going on. And the administration did it because they felt it was worth it. The ends justified the means. This is unacceptable. We elect people to represent us, not to hoodwink us because they “know better.”

Dig Deeper:

Video: President Obama Apologizes

Video: Lie of the year

Article: The Birth of Medicaid

Blog: Government Schemes Cost More Than Promised

Article: Health Programs Have History of Cost Overruns

Article: Lying For Health Care Reform

Video: ObamaCare Architect Insults Americans

Video: “American Voters Are Stupid”

Utah Citizen Network: Costs of Government Programs


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