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FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR

The burden of truth

How are ObamaCare enrollments coming along?  The correct answer is: nobody knows.

By this I mean no one who knows the answer with better than 75 percent accuracy is willing to say so in public.  This week the Administration updated its official count to 3.3 million enrollments.  This number is absolutely false, and everyone knows it.  Industry experts believe more than 20 percent of the enrollments counted by Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services are invalid enrollments, because the mandatory first payment was not completed.  In some states, the ratio is closer to fifty percent invalid.

So we’re left to make educated guesses about a vitally important detail of public policy – arguably the most important single policy debate under way at the moment, since our crushing national debt burden has been packed away in a carton labeled “Do Not Open Until Christmas” by the Republican leadership.  The actual number of ObamaCare enrollments is probably around 2.6 million, which is laughably short of the 7 million target set for March 31, just seven weeks from now.  And the pace of enrollments is slowing, week by week.

We don’t even have enough data to make decent educated guesses about the demographic composition of the ObamaCare enrollees.  How many are young, healthy, and willing to pay far too much for insurance?  The Administration knows, but it simply refuses to tell us, because the truth would be politically inconvenient, to put it mildly.

Say, wasn’t President Obama bragging about 9 million enrollees during his State of the Union address?  Why, yes, as a matter of fact he was.  He got to that number by lumping in Medicaid enrollments.  Medicaid is a welfare program; it has nothing to do with the business of selling health insurance policies.  And even then, Obama’s number was deliberately inflated by about 80 percent, because he was counting people who were enrolled in Medicaid anyway, whether ObamaCare existed or not.

In other words, he lied.  Baldly, brazenly, knowingly, as surely as if you went to the bank and demanded a loan based solely on your income, without mentioning any of your expenses.  Obama knows how transparent this fraud was, just as HHS knows nobody with a shred of knowledge about the insurance industry believes their 3.3 million enrollment claim.  There’s nothing complicated about the proper calculation of the real numbers, no arcane secret that would be difficult to explain to the layman.  They’re just lying, and trusting their loyal myrmidons to cover for them news roundtables.

“Aren’t they worried about looking bad when we learn the truth?” you might ask, if you arrived on Earth last week and missed the blizzard of bunkum surrounding the absolute disaster of the ObamaCare launch.  Remember how Obama and his partisans were running around inventing phony “enrollment success stories” and breezily estimating that hundreds of thousands of happy customers were romping across Healthcare.gov in those opening weeks?  Why, the site was so popular it could barely keep up with the traffic!

Only much later did we learn the actual Day One signup tally was four people, and the number didn’t climb out of single digits for weeks.  Team Obama lied furiously to cover that up because they live one news cycle at a time, creeping across each Sunday-show finish line with a sigh of relief, and renewed determination to tell any crazy story necessary to keep their followers’ spirits up through the coming week.

They rely heavily on the most precious gift of a biased media: the lack of narrative, the evanescence of context.  Individual Obama falsehoods will never be connected into a devastating narrative about a desperate politician lying through his teeth to win grubby little political street fights on the road to power.  The media will not remind you of Obama’s ludicrous “9 million enrollee” claim in April, when the real number turns out to be more like 3 million.  They’ve already completely lost interest in reminding you of what the target numbers were supposed to be, or even what the original stated purpose of ObamaCare was.  In case you’ve forgotten, it was bringing insurance to the uninsured.  Once again, we must guess the outline of the true, concealed numbers, but so far it looks like 70 to 80 percent of the ObamaCare “enrollments” come from people who were under the mistaken impression they could keep their old insurance plan if they liked it.

The burden of truth never accumulates on Barack Obama’s shoulders.  He is not held accountable for things he said in the past, even when videotape of his claims can easily be replayed.  You won’t see anyone outside of the Republican political apparatus cutting the old-and-broken promises into a snappy music video, and their handiwork will not be replayed at the top of some Sunday-morning inquisition in which stern reporters ask flop-sweating Administration officials why they made so many false statements back in the day.  Obama’s response to every scandal – remember when he was more angry than anyone about politically targeted IRS abuse? – depends on the media having his back, letting each week play out as a short political drama unconnected to any larger story.  In ObamaCare’s case, we can measure the dimensions of this nonsense with numbers.

This is one of the many reasons not to trust Democrats with executive power.  Say what you will about Republicans, disagree with them all day long if you like, but in the end you must admit they simply cannot get away scot-free with the kind of sleazy deceptions Democrat executives perpetrate.  There really is a cost when Republicans invent phony numbers, or total them up in deeply disingenuous ways, or make predictions that fall cosmically short of the mark, such as President Obama’s predictions of achieving Bush-era unemployment if he was given a trillion stimulus dollars to spend in 2009.  Obama’s actual performance was considerably worse than the doomsday unemployment he predicted, if he was not given his “stimulus” spending spree.  That didn’t matter; the story ended when he got his trillion bucks, a clean white page of history was turned, and the next Obama short story began without prologue.

This is also a good reason not to trust any politician, Republican, Democrat, or otherwise, with any function the private sector can handle.  Free-market capitalism does bear the burden of truth.  Not always willingly, mind you.  Plenty of unscrupulous businessmen out there, to be sure.  Even some good people are tempted to cut corners or exaggerate their claims a bit.  But they pay a price for doing so.

If Obama were the CEO of a private corporation, he’d be paying very stiff penalties for his falsehoods.  His competitors would have sued him right out of the boardroom for making false claims, encountering very little resistance from shareholders bitter about his big, empty promises.  And of course, government regulatory agencies would require Chief Executive Obama to be honest and transparent, within fairly strict parameters.  Right of the top of my head, I strongly advise any entrepreneur reading this not to try the Health and Human Services strategy of pretending you don’t know how many people have actually paid for your product.  You’ll most likely end up in jail.

I don’t trust capitalism over socialism because of my faith in the superior morality and honor of the capitalists.  On the contrary, it’s the Left who play the opposite game, insisting that we judge their projects solely on the radiant good intentions behind them.  It’s government we are asked to take on faith, precisely because no law enforcement power exists to compel their transparency and honesty, and we have no ability to walk away if we’re personally dissatisfied with the cost or quality of services rendered.  How much hassle have all the internal mechanisms of “good government” been able to cause the Obama Administration?  How much of an obstacle is even the constitutional separation of powers presenting this imperial President?

No private-sector mogul can get away with this level of dishonesty… at least, not without the help of agreeable politicians, which is a major reason why Big Government and Big Business have a tendency to merge together.  Deception is a form of compulsion.  Freedom is an illusion when it consists primarily of the power to punish our absolute rulers at the ballot box one every few years… and they’re under no pressure to provide us with timely and valid information to make informed decisions.  If you look back over the short but extremely ugly history of ObamaCare, you will find no moment when anyone connected with the Obama Administration had a compelling reason to tell the truth about it.

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