Obamacare: A Careless and Clumsy Launch

In the first month of the Affordable Care Act, the administration has failed to manage its signature program.

(The Root) — It turns out that over the past four years, all those times President Barack Obama told Americans that “if you like your insurance plan, you will keep it,” it wasn’t quite as simple as it sounded.

In politics, after all, if you can fit a proposal on a bumper sticker, there’s a chance that it sounds better on the campaign trail than it does in reality.

And getting a four-Pinocchio score from the Washington Post on a claim like that really has a way of ruining one of your better talking points.

As New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait suggests, the most charitable way to explain the president’s imprecise claim is that he “intended to convey that those who already had insurance through their job or through Medicare would not be forced onto the new healthcare exchanges.”

Which makes sense — the president was hedging against overheated charges of “socialism” and “death panels” from Republicans fighting tooth and nail to prevent passage of the Affordable Care Act.

But it was also careless, and technically wrong.

Because even though Obamacare isn’t — as its opponents often like to charge — designed to siphon away the fundamental freedoms of the American people, it will, indeed, require some folks currently on cut-rate coverage plans to buy more robust plans — some at a higher price.

That’s not exactly how it was explained, though. And even if we’ve all become slowly conditioned to take everything our politicians say with a grain of salt, you can’t really fault people for relying on a blanket statement like “If you like it, you can keep it.”

So even if there’s an Obamacare success story for every tale of Obamacare disaster, because it was Obama who made the pitch — in two national elections — that government plays an essential role in changing people’s lives for the better, it’s on him to instill public confidence in Obamacare.