All The President's 'Guarantees'

Posted: Oct 07, 2010 12:21 AM

Two audio clips have received more air time on my radio show this year than any others. The first is Barbara Boxer demanding Army General Michael Walsh call her "senator," not "ma'am."

The second is President Obama telling America: "Here's a guarantee that I have made. If you have insurance that you like, then you will be able to keep that insurance. If you've got a doctor that you like, you will be able to keep your doctor."

3M announced this week it is getting out of the business of insuring its retirees. Within a couple of years, all of those former employees will be pushed into Medicare or given a payment towards the cost of insurance obtained from the new exchanges established under Obamacare. There is no guarantee that their coverage will be as good as what they have now, and of course no guarantee that they will have the same doctor.

This follows the announcement from The Principal Financial Group that it is exiting the health insurance business, waiving goodbye to its 840,000 covered insureds. Those insureds will not by definition have the same insurance next year, and the impact on their doctor choice is yet to be seen.

Harvard Pilgrim, an uinsurer doing business in New England, told 22,000 seniors last week that they cannot have their old Medicare Advantage plans back as the company is out of that business next year.

And McDonald's is debating whether to continue its "mini-med" policies for its hourly workers.

These are just the first wave of changes --often drastic and expensive-- which will impact Americans' health insurance between now and the end of the year. The changes are coming even though all Americans were "guaranteed" by the president that Obamacare would leave them with exactly the same policy and doctor as they had before the massive law's massive changes kicked in.

So, do you count that a presidential lie? If not a lie, how do you characterize it?

When Team Obama announced that the so-called "stimulus" would keep unemployment below 8% they made a huge, credibility-crushing mistake, but it wasn't accompanied by the "g-word."

And a promise about unemployment is general, not specific. There's always going to be some unemployment as capitalism requires it. The president couldn't guarantee that everyone would keep their job --he'd have been laughed from the podium. So that prediction couldn't be classified as a lie, though it was terrible forecasting and set the tone for two tears of wildly wrong prognostications on the economy, leading up to the wildest of all --"Recovery Summer."

But President Obama did guarantee everyone would keep exactly the health insurance and exactly the doctor they had in 2009. And he did so over and over again.

I asked my audience on Wednesday if this "guarantee" constituted a lie, and they divided, though a majority said "yes" and in unequivocal terms.

All the callers agreed that whatever the characterization of the president's speech, the obvious and continuous breech of his pledge unfolding before our eyes constitutes a major blemish on his presidency. Millions voted for the president on the promise of a different sort of politics, but then he broke that trust and in a way that profoundly and negatively impacts them personally. Obama's approval numbers are plummeting, and it isn't just the economy driving them down. As Obamacare rolls across the land, crushing expectations and changing the way Americans have received their health care and from whom they have received it, the backlash will grow.

As America begins to vote --and I filled out my ballot for Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina by mail Wednesday--the public is outraged by many things, and the tide rolling in looks to many to be a massive rebuke to the Democrats' profligacy with the public's money and fecklessness with regards to the growth of government.

But upset with and over Obamacare is a passion driving millions to the polls, a passion that is growing with every week and every story about the broken promises of reform and the upheavals unleashed on hard-working people who did not elect Obama so he could turn over their health care and did not send a Congress back to shatter the world's best medical-delivery system.

Voters wanted some fixes to the health care system, some improvements, especially to the safety-net and especially with regard to pre-existing condition exclusions, but they did not want what they got. Indeed they pleaded with the Congress to stop the massive tear-down that resulted, the 1,200 page bill that hadn't been read, the first consequences of which are just now arriving in the mail.

Voters jammed town halls in August 2009 to say "Stop."

They elected Republican governors in Virginia and New Jersey in November of 2009 to shout "Stop."

In Massachusetts, voters filled the seat of liberal icon Ted Kennedy with Republican Scott Brown in an effort to scream "Stop."

The president wouldn't stop, and now the voters get to file their response in a way that cannot be ignored.

Never has a Congress deserved a pummeling more than this one. "Repeal and replace" is a platform, not a slogan, and with every day its possibility grows. To make it come to pass, do not vote for a single Democrat for any office. When a party betrays the promises its leader makes, that party should be punished. If politics has any guarantees at all, it ought to be this: Break your word, and voters will break your party.