This Too Is The Smell Of Fear

At least some Republicans have grasped what it means — maybe for 2014, certainly later — if/when Obamacare is and is seen to be a success:

“I don’t think it means anything,” [Sen. John]Barrasso said on “Fox News Sunday” about the news that 6 million people had signed up for health care plans. “I think they’re cooking the books on this.”

Barrasso, (R-Not-Liz-Cheney’s-real-home-state) is not your garden variety Republican talking horse.  He is, in fact, the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee — which is a post that puts you on the GOP leadership team in the upper house. This is, in other words, someone taken seriously by people who have plenty of evidence to suggest they shouldn’t.  And this Very Serious Person is telling the Most Misled Viewership™in America that any reports that might have troubled their spotless minds about the possibility that Obamacare may succeed are skewed, false, nothing-to-see-here-move-along lies of the sort they’ve come to expect from the Kenyan Mooslim Usurper.

Frans_Hals_-_Regents_of_the_St_Elizabeth_Hospital_of_Haarlem_-_WGA11139

Given that the argument for the last several months has been that the new health care law is an obvious and abject failure, just waiting for that one last shove to send it crashing on to the ash-heap of history, evidence of the law actually functioning pretty much as designed is a disaster.

I suspect Barrasso grasps the difficulty he faces.  Facts have a habit of willing out — and the many millions covered by the new health marketplaces, by Medicaid, by extended access to their parents’ policies — are going to be acutely aware if their health insurance falls under renewed threat.  So (in a rhetorical move that might confuse the uninitiated) Barrosso adds the inevitable “numbers are irrelevant” dodge: 

Barrasso said people care more about what kind of plans people are purchasing and whether they can keep their doctors, not how many people have signed up for new plans.

Maybe so. Fox News viewers (and anchors) may continue to believe this kind of nonsense.  But those who have the good fortune to live in places where denialism isn’t what’s for breakfast know better.  And they vote.  As do their kids, their friends, the whole shooting match.

I just hope they do so this November.

Image: Frans Hals,  Regents of the St. Elizabeth Hospital of Haarlem, 1641.

 

 

 

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65 replies
  1. 1
    Hill Dweller says:

    Ron Fournier has also been melting down in the last few days, throwing around Katrina and “Mission Accomplished” analogies.

    I’d love the President to go to the WHPC dinner and tell them he’ll drink their tears.

  2. 2
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    Perahps Barrasso is simply using Rovematics

  3. 3
    Schlemizel says:

    Of course our friends in the liberal media will have no way of knowing what is true and well spend endless hours reporting on the charges and that “some Democrats disagree”

  4. 4
    dmsilev says:

    I’m waiting for the inevitable appearance of ‘UnskewedEnrollments.com’.

  5. 5
    Big R says:

    Were I Richard Mayhew, I would start including classic art in my posts to see how many people thought I was Tom Levenson, because I was seriously convinced this was a Mayhew post on first read.

  6. 6
    dmsilev says:

    Also, I seem to recall the Republicans being Deeply Concerned about the enrollment numbers back a few months ago when said numbers were a lot smaller. Odd, that.

  7. 7
    Mike G says:

    Don’t tempt Boraxo with Satan’s handmaidens “numbers” and “facts”, he goes by Feelings given to him by corporations and rich people and Republican Jesus.

    The Ideology of Ignorance, Exhibit #564745

  8. 8
    Gex says:

    It was my impression that the right has always known and feared what would happen if there were any moderately successful health care reform. That is why they need to throw everything they have at it to prevent it from happening and barring that, doing everything they can to wreck it and make sure it fails.

  9. 9
    gratuitous says:

    When your entire political party is grounded in the notion that government doesn’t work, can’t work, and has never worked (and expends their utmost proving it day in and day out), a very large government program that helps millions is just about the worst news possible.

    Lucky for Republicans, and as pointed out in the comments above, the popular media will merely serve as a conduit for their griping without comment or analysis, except to note in passing that “some people” disagree.

    I just saw a clip of Sen. Barrasso moaning that, yes, perhaps people might have insurance, but what kind of insurance? Uh, Senator? Just about any insurance is preferable to no insurance. And now people can’t be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition or have their insurance cancelled for making a claim. No thanks to you or your party of bloodthirsty ghouls.

  10. 10
    Hal says:

    @Hill Dweller: I love that Ron Fournier has dropped all pretence of being an nonpartisan journalist. His inability to help get McCain elected must still be bugging him.

  11. 11
    Kyle says:

    @dmsilev:

    Also, I seem to recall the Republicans being Deeply Concerned about the enrollment numbers back a few months ago when said numbers were a lot smaller. Odd, that.

    At the time they were Freedom Numbers. Since then, numbers have been proven to have a librul bias.

  12. 12
    smith says:

    Obamacare might make some difference in 2014 if only Dems stop running and hiding from it. Might have made a difference in 2010, for that matter.

  13. 13
    Baud says:

    Only three more open enrollment periods before the next president is sworn in!

  14. 14
    efgoldman says:

    Fox News viewers (and anchors) may continue to believe this kind of nonsense.

    The huge majority of Fox News viewers are on Medicare. Not that they give the gummint any credit for it.

  15. 15
    MikeJ says:

    KIRO teased a story about signup ending with “and if you have a problem you won’t believe how long you have to wait to talk to somebody!”

  16. 16
    Mnemosyne says:

    A quick Public Service Announcement: if you are having trouble with your insurance company after signing up, make sure you file a complaint with your state’s department of insurance and copy the Department of Health & Human Services on it. There seem to be a fair number of insurers who are trying to screw their customers and then blame Obamacare for any problems. Don’t let them get away with it.

  17. 17
    MikeJ says:

    @MikeJ: Actual story on now. Signup center in person in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Somali.

    The anchor kept talking about backlogs and long delays, and every person in the story was thrilled to be there and getting insurance.

  18. 18
    Baud says:

    @MikeJ:

    The anchor kept talking about backlogs and long delays

    The malls are busy the weekend before Christmas! Repeal and replace Christmas!

  19. 19
    jl says:

    @smith: I saw a piece on TPM the other day, where Bill Clinton said the Democrats should face the ACA issues head on in the election, go out and explain it and defend it. I think he is right, and is more or less the FDR and Truman approach, way back in the days when Democrats generally won elections. Not sure that there are enough brave Dems who will follow that advice, sadly.

    Too bad the Democrats did not hang on to both chambers in Congress. When reactionary frauds started whining and dishing their dishonest bait and switch campaign about how the U.S. should adopt a real, genuine and serious, free market system like Switzerland, the Obama could have said “OK! Let’s do it!”. Then we would have more or less what we have now, except exchanges with robust state public options, serious comparative effectiveness analysis used for determining reimbursement criteria, federal insurance and provider price ‘guidance’ (that is a band of allowable premium and service price increases), a better and more transparent system of standardized prices, and open book federal audits for any insurer or provider who acted funky in terms of price increases or quality issues.

    Free market, indeed. Not saying the Swiss system is the best, but it would be better than what we have now.

    Disclosure: Half of my family heritage is Swiss German, so I might be prejudiced. But, then half of them are such a cantankerous lot, from their behavior, I’m surprised the the Swiss German population has not murdered themselves out of existence by now. Maybe all the crazy ones emigrated to the U.S.. Anyway, I might be prejudiced. But, French approach would be good too.

  20. 20
    Brian R. says:

    Yes, the numbers are cooked, just like the September 2012 job numbers were cooked, and just like the polls before the 2012 election were cooked and needed to be unskewed.

    What the fuck is it with these people that when a fact meets their ideology it’s automatically the fact that’s wrong?

    What’s that? They’re fucking idiots? OK, then.

  21. 21
    Steeplejack says:

    @gratuitous:

    Uh, Senator? Just about any insurance is preferable to no insurance.

    Hell, yes, and the ACA has knocked out whole swaths of useless, bullshit insurance plans. So the “any insurance” you can get now is better than the “any insurance” you could get before (assuming that you could get any insurance).

  22. 22
    jl says:

    Here’s the story on Big Dawg’s advice:

    Bill Clinton Urges Dems To Confront Obamacare Head-On In Midterms
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/l.....e-midterms

  23. 23
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    I’d love the President to go to the WHPC dinner and tell them he’ll drink their tears.

    President Obama is always killer at the WHCA dinner. But who is Joel McHale (this year’s host)? There are a lot of very famous people I’ve never heard of, and he would seem to be among them.

  24. 24
    AlladinsLamp says:

    Late surge for Obama health law

    Jamie Dupree’s Washington Insider via Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  25. 25
    catclub says:

    medicare did not usher in decades of Democratic dominance. I would like to hope that the people who become insured under the ACA will vote, but there is no great reason to believe that they will.

    Ask yourself, who would come out and vote and get organized if Roe V Wade gets overturned. Democrats.
    Who would come out and get organized if the ACA was overturned? Democrats.

    Why do rightwing fundamentalists come out to vote? Opposition to Roe V Wade.
    Coming out to vote again, after winning, does not seem to be in the cards.

  26. 26
    WaterGirl says:

    I learned at some financial seminar that not wanting to lose something is a much stronger motivator than wanting to gain something. Don’t tell people that if they save xx much they will gain money in interest. Instead, tell them that if they don’t save xx, they will lose money in interest.

    That should put us in the catbird seat, now that millions of people now have health insurance.

  27. 27
    Linda says:

    The Repub’s reactions are the pseudo-grown up version of La-la-la, I can’t hear you. At what point do Republicans finally realize that they’ve been had, and wonder what over crappy flights from reality they have made recently, like the lady in the spaghetti commercial? That would be never.

  28. 28
    catclub says:

    @Steeplejack: “and the ACA has knocked out whole swaths of useless, bullshit insurance plans”

    But Walmart and the Airlines know that all we USians look at is the topline price. Those insurance plans that were useless, BUT CHEAPER are sorely missed by the type of people that we are.

  29. 29
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @AlladinsLamp:

    The comments over there are much what you’d expect.

  30. 30
    AlladinsLamp says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Yep.
    Deny, deny, then lie.

  31. 31
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Joel McHale is a comic TV actor and presenter, star of Community and The Soup. He’s funny but, as far as I know, not terribly political. Probably a safe choice. He might go a little risque but probably isn’t going to pull a Colbert.

  32. 32
    Elmo says:

    @Baud:

    Its so crowded, nobody goes there anymore.

  33. 33
    the Conster says:

    @jl:

    Bill Clinton did such a great job at the convention making the case for BO and the progressive vision, he ended up with the moniker Explainer in Chief. What is preventing him from going around everywhere he can and promote Obamacare himself? If he wanted to be on Meet The Press to promote Obamacare as the greatest thing since sliced bread and Social Security, you don’t think the honchos at NBC wouldn’t book him? Or Diane Sawyer? Why isn’t he out there?? It sure would grease the skids for his wife, which you’d think he’d be very interested in doing.

  34. 34
    different-church-lady says:

    @AlladinsLamp: People wait until the last minute to make big decisions: whocouldanode?

  35. 35
    jl says:

    @catclub: Did the GOP campaign on repealing Medicare in the late 60s and early 70s? That is a serious question. I do not know whether they did or not.

    Things might be different for midterms if there are 7 million sign ups, and almost 17 million people (which includes things like the under 26ers on their parents policies) getting decent insurance due to ACA, and the GOP keeps making noises about taking the benefits away through repeal, rather than moving to an ‘amend and approve’ tactic.

    I’m not sure the GOP Frankenstein’s monster base will let them do that, though.

    Below is graph with breakdown of projected coverage due to ACA at Charles Gaba’s website for the 17 million number
    ACASignups.net
    http://acasignups.net/graph

  36. 36
    Punchy says:

    SCOTUS is going to destroy this law before it’s ever fully effective and entrenched. Piece by piece, part by part (starting with the HoLo case) they’ll adjudicate all its main tenets into oblivion. Just watch The K-RATS Krew kill it softly.

  37. 37
    Greg says:

    Their ability to just blatantly pretend that facts that contradict their viewpoint actually support their viewpoint continues to amaze me. At least once a day there is a post at NRO calling Obamacare “immensely unpopular” and stating that this is why Obama’s “poll numbers are tanking”. If you actually look at poll numbers, such as Gallup’s daily tracking, you will see the that President’s numbers haven’t budged for months and months. And if you look at the polls about Obamacare, yes, generally there are more “we think it’s the end of the world” numbers than there are “we think it is the greatest numbers.” However, there is a number in the middle who say “Doesn’t make much difference to me at all”, in which case the ant-Obama numbers are, in fact, the minority opinion. It is also an accepted fact over there that “Democrats are running away from Obamacare”. Really? Who, exactly? Because I have seen nothing of the sort.

  38. 38
    jl says:

    @the Conster: I assume he is waiting for serious midterm campaign season to start. If he starts now, it (edit:and Big Dawg himself) will be old news by summer. And, for real effect, Bill Clinton needs candidates in marginal districts to ask him to come do rallies. So, we will see what he is willing to do, and which candidates are willing for him to do it in their home districts.

  39. 39
    gian says:

    @the Conster: just goofing with my cell phone. But Google the media matters ‘if it’s Sunday it’s Republican’

  40. 40
    jl says:

    @Greg: What will move the president’s polls and Dem chances are noticeable improvement in job market, I think. There are some signs of just that, though not sure it will be enough to make a big difference.

  41. 41
    Baud says:

    @Greg:

    It is also an accepted fact over there that “Democrats are running away from Obamacare”. Really? Who, exactly? Because I have seen nothing of the sort.

    Me either. I’m sure there are some outliers (Pryor comes to mind as a likely candidate), but I haven’t seen enough to use the label “Democrats” in that sentence.

  42. 42
    Betsy says:

    @jl: why can’t we have Clinton run again?

    Oh wait!!

  43. 43
    Cacti says:

    “I don’t think it means anything,” [Sen. John]Barrasso said on “Fox News Sunday” about the news that 6 million people had signed up for health care plans. “I think they’re cooking the books on this.”

    Reminds me of when the unemployment rate finally went below 8% in September 2012, robbing Mitt Romney of a favorite talking point, and the GOP response was to insist that the BLS must have cooked the books somehow.

  44. 44
    efgoldman says:

    @Baud:

    The malls are busy the weekend before Christmas! Repeal and replace Christmas!

    See? SEE??!!?! Tell me there’s no war on xmas, libs!

  45. 45
    jl says:

    @Betsy: Bill would have a good chance, what with the GOP thinking that bringing up his sexy time antics would be a good attack move.

    I guess one advantage of Hillary running is that the GOP will think that they are running against Bill again. They can’t resist it when their the knees jerk.

  46. 46
    efgoldman says:

    @Cacti:

    the GOP response was to insist that the BLS must have cooked the books somehow.

    Because that’s what they would do.

  47. 47
    JustRuss says:

    @Steeplejack:

    So the “any insurance” you can get now is better than the “any insurance” you could get before

    I love how conservatives were concern-trolling about YouCanKeepYourPlan-Gate, even though the plans you couldn’t keep were too crappy to pass muster. Now that people are signing up for insurance, it’s “yes, but are the plans good enough?”

    So the old crappy plans were just fine, but the new, better plans aren’t good enough. My head hurts.

  48. 48
    efgoldman says:

    @JustRuss:

    My head hurts.

    There isn’t enough Excedrin in the world to help you deal with TeaHadi/GOBP “logic.”

  49. 49
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @JustRuss:

    So the old crappy plans were just fine, but the new, better plans aren’t good enough.

    The food is terrible, and such small portions!

  50. 50
    Linda says:

    @dmsilev: Yeah, American conservatives are heading into Norma Desmond territory. When they lose the next presidential election, I expect Jeb Bush, or Rand Paul, or whoever, to be too overcome to go on, and speak directly to all those people sitting out there in the dark, before telling Mr. DeMille they are ready for their close-up.

  51. 51

    @Greg:
    I think the time to stand by Obamacare is still three or four months away, when the GOP has absolutely committed to an anti-Obamacare strategy and Democrats can go ‘YEAH, I support the ACA. Look at how great it is! These people want to take away your healthcare!’

    @JustRuss:
    Filter it through ‘There must be a catch somewhere’ logic. You see, they don’t trust Obama. It’s just something about him.

  52. 52
    Gretchen says:

    Rick Santorum told Meet the Press that the uninsured are deadbeats. Even though they’ve signed up, they won’t pay the premiums, so it won’t count.

  53. 53
    p.a. says:

    @Linda: They’ll just designate another ACORN and claim a stolen election again, and try to limit voters to denture and depends wearers. (Apologies to all Democratic denture and depends wearers). Or claim that it’s no longer 47% moochers, it’s up to 52% and America is DOOMED ZOMG HELP US ZOMBIE REAGAN.

  54. 54
    Chris says:

    @Gex:

    It was my impression that the right has always known and feared what would happen if there were any moderately successful health care reform. That is why they need to throw everything they have at it to prevent it from happening and barring that, doing everything they can to wreck it and make sure it fails.

    “William Kristol, in the first of a famous series of strategy memos circulated to Republicans in Congress, declared that Republicans should seek to “kill” the Clinton plan. He explained why in the Wall Street Journal: “Passage of the Clinton health care plan in any form would be disastrous. It would guarantee an unprecedented federal intrusion into the American economy. Its success would signal the rebirth of centralized welfare-state policy.” He went on to argue that the plan would lead to bad results, but his main concern, clearly, was that universal health care might actually work – that it would be popular, and that it would make the case for government intervention. It’s the same logic that led to George W. Bush’s attempt to privatize Social Security: The most dangerous government programs, from a movement conservative’s point of view, are the ones that work the best and thereby legitimize the welfare state.”
    – Paul Krugman, “The Conscience of a Liberal,” back in 2007.

  55. 55
    mai naem says:

    I know I shouldn’t be shocked about the behavior of the GOP but I am still surprised by their actions. Their actions are just so incredibly cruel and short sighted. The poor southern states’ governors refusing to accept the medicaid expansion and screwing their working poor. Out and out lying to people about what the O-care insurance policies provide. Encouraging young people not to get insurance. Are you fucking kidding me?
    I have little faith in the American voter but, jeebuz, I cannot believe they’re going to forget the GOP’s actions when O-care is considered part of normal everyday life in America.

  56. 56
    mainmata says:

    Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter how good a government plan is if it isn’t marketed. The Goopers understand this and that is why they have had a relentless and all-encompassing negative messaging machine. The Democrats just don’t get this. The Obama Administration had a huge coalition from Day 1 in 2009 that they not only ignored but actively dismissed, especially the progressives. Since then, their communication strategy has been dismal except during the 2012 Presidential campaign.

  57. 57
    FlipYrWhig says:

    I had a whole long gripey esponse here to mainmata, but I deleted it. Suffice it to say I don’t think “the progressives” were capable of being pleased.

  58. 58
    Tom Q says:

    @catclub: I know it’s a couple of hours later, but to respond to your comment: subsequent to the adoption of Medicare, Democrats didn’t dominate on the presidential level (thanks to Vietnam and the fallout over Civil Rights), but they held onto the Senate till 1980 and the House until 1994 despite being beaten in most presidential elections over that period. I think most people would say protecting Medicare and Social Security played a large part in that Congressional success.

  59. 59
    satby says:

    @mainmata: Mist younger people don’t get cable, they stream media online, and hulu and lots of sites are running ACA ads constantly. As has already been noted, first you get all the sign-ups you can, then you make the opposition explain why you should lose or pay much more for that wonderful new benefit you just got.

  60. 60
    Joel says:

    @MikeJ: KIRO were the guys who crashed the helicopter, right?

  61. 61
    Chris says:

    @mai naem:

    I have learned never to underestimate the lengths to which Republicans will go out of pure unreasoning spite. (It still manages to surprise me from time to time, though).

  62. 62
    Yatsuno says:

    @Joel: That was KOMO, they ran the chopper with KING.

  63. 63
    J R in WV says:

    I have insurance as a retiree (so far) and so the ACA didn’t directly affect me, personally.

    My brother, on the other hand, has two kids under 26. Last political discussion we had (we don’t talk politics much, he probably still has a GWB’04 sticker on his big truck) he said “I know Obama is your guy, b ut he hasn’t been good for me financially.”

    I wanted to say, “Dude, if you can’t do well during the largest stock market run-up in history, there’s something way wrong with the advice you’re getting!” but I held off.

    I imagine he’s still paying stupid prices for insurance, because he just knows that going to the ACA enrollment for finding a better and cheaper private policy won’t work for a Texan Republican. Really sad.

  64. 64
    boatboy_srq says:

    Two thoughts:

    1) The GOTea is so accustomed to funny numbers that any statistic that contradicts their stated positions is by default assumed to be fraudulent.

    2) This is the same group of geniuses that thinks Teh Illeguls and Voter Fraud can explain why they lose elections. They’re convinced that the legitimate population of the US is at least 10-20 million less than the Census reports, and that any information different from that is either UN infiltrators out to implement Agenda 21 or the first wave of la Reconquista.

    Crooks and/or bigots.

  65. 65
    gorram says:

    @efgoldman: And it’s what Nixon DID. The reason we’re so secure in the BLS numbers is because of safeguards put in place because of what he and other Republicans tried to do.

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