Know When to Hold, Know When to Fold

Obama Administration

Republicans’ biggest Achilles heel is that they believe their own bullshit. Last week the House GOP cranked out a phony survey that claimed only 67 percent of Obamacare enrollees had paid for their policies. Today the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee held a hearing on Obamacare, and the Republican members were utterly dumbfounded that the insurance executives who testified did not repeat the GOP talking points.

Republicans struggled to land punches against ObamaCare in a hearing Wednesday, as responses from insurance companies deflated several lines of questioning.

Democratic lawmakers were emboldened to defend the Affordable Care Act with renewed vigor and levity, creating a dynamic rarely seen in the debate over ObamaCare. …

… Republicans were visibly exasperated, as insurers failed to confirm certain claims about ObamaCare, such as the committee’s allegation that one-third of federal exchange enrollees have not paid their first premium.

Four out of five companies represented said more than 80 percent of their new customers had paid. The fifth, Cigna, did not offer an estimate.

Republicans also stumbled in asking insurers to detail next year’s premium rates. Companies are still in the process of calculating prices, and they have a strong financial incentive not to air early projections in public.

They honestly believed the hearing would confirm their bogus report? Actual facts caught them off guard? Apparently a lot of the Republican members walked out early, once they realized they weren’t going to get any useful anti-Obamacare ammunition. Some in rightie media were left with the the old foot in the mouth …

Across the board, the health insurance executives testified that the payment rate for premiums was somewhere between 80 and 90 percent, while stressing that these data are preliminary and that outstanding payments are still coming in.

This was a stinging rebuke of the Republicans on the very committee to which the executives were testifying, who had issued a report last week claiming that the premium payment rate was actually 67 percent. That report, which was based on incomplete data and rigged to produce a low number, was met with derision by journalists and observers who saw it as a transparent ploy to create a damaging anti-Obamacare talking point.

Conservative media, however, ate it up. “White House tries spin move on gloomy Obamacare numbers,” said Fox News. “The enrollment totals were bogus and worse than expected,” clucked Townhall’s Guy Benson, who later sneered at the White House’s pushback on the report.

Naturally, the headline at Reason is “Insurers Testify that 10-20 Percent of Obamacare Sign-Ups Haven’t Paid, Some Are Duplicates.” But y’know, the 10 percent easily could be people who got insured through new jobs, or through some other way, and decided they didn’t need the exchange policy. And if some are duplicates (from people making repeated attempts to sign up), that suggests the percentage of actual unpaid policies might be lower.

It’s also notable that the House Republicans apparently expected the insurance guys to be their buddies and give them the sound bytes they wanted. It doesn’t dawn on them that the insurance execs are mostly interested in keep their companies profitable, which means they want the exchanges to work. Because they make money selling insurance policies, and the exchanges are helping them tap into a market they weren’t tapping into before. The GOP is too lost in the weeds to realize that, it seems.

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  1. c u n d gulag  •  May 8, 2014 @8:13 am

    GOP SONG Lyrics:
    “Tiny Bubbles:”

    Tiny bubbles (tiny bubbles)
    In the bathtub, Make us happy (make us happy)
    Make us feel fine (make us feel fine).

    Tiny bubbles (tiny bubbles)
    Make us warm all over
    With a feeling that you’re gonna
    Love us till the end of time.

    So here’s to the green skies
    And here’s to the blue grass
    And mostly here’s a toast
    To you and me, RUBES!

    So here’s to the blatant lie
    We give to you today,
    And here’s a KISS-OUR-@$$es,
    That will not fade away!

  2. JDM  •  May 8, 2014 @10:54 am

    One potentially positive aspect of the past couple years, illustrated from your quote of Reason’s header, is that it’s harder to ignore that libertarianism is basically just ultra conservative politics. Especially the major organs. This might help to marginalize their leadership and make it more likely that libertarian-leaning people will see the political reality of what they are espousing. If they really want to be ultra conservatives so be it, but a lot of them are opposed to such extreme conservatism, so those folks might wake up.

  3. goatherd  •  May 8, 2014 @11:28 am

    It was good to have a little bit of hope with my morning coffee. Hope takes on a different character when we are of a “certain age.” Hope used to encompass a bright new world, now, I am content with the possibility that some small percentage of centrist, leaning right voters will actually consider the data, decide to buck peer pressure and propaganda, and vote accordingly. It could happen, and that would be enough. But, when I consider how my fellow citizens process information, my expectation is that a new batch of mini-conspiracy theories will crop up to tide the brethren over past election day. Here’s is some explanation, for a bit of fun.

    My right wing acquaintances seem to believe that when the affairs of man demand a response of moral outrage, as nearly all post bronze age thought and policy do, the moral character of a person can be accurately gauged by the frequency and intensity of their outrage. The cooler heads and “better angels” among us, are merely people of low moral fiber. To put it in a nutshell, “If there is one among you, spittle stained and weighed down by heavy artillery, follow him, he is a wise man.”

    They also have a tendency to equate convoluted logic, wild leaps of the imagination and a selective combination of “facts” and misinformation, with intellectual prowess and perspicacity. This is a valuable political tool. It takes advantage of the “dullard’s shortcut,” which holds that “all incomprehensible arguments are essentially of equal rational value, unless they can be countered with a tautology.” It’s like Occam’s razor, fallen through the looking glass, it’s also political magic!

    It works because incomprehensibility falls mainly into two categories. To illustrate, take a look at the Lorentz Transformation equations, and then compare them to Glenn Beck’s blackboard. You see? The arrows all point to George Soros! The practical ramifications are obvious, if you haven’t penetrated the sinister arcana of Agenda 21, fluoridation or Obama’s plan to put you in prison for collecting rainwater, you are a “low information voter.”

    As I glanced at the tabloids in the checkout line the other day, I noticed an article on Kim Kardashian’s bottom. It was the second article on this subject in a month’s time. (Evidently, it’s getting bigger, but, there is no cause for alarm.) At first the significance eluded me. Well, actually, the significance still eludes me, but, I thought of how my right wing sample group might process and use this information. I came up with a prediction. Within one month, some voices on the right will run this narrative:
    “Kim Kardashian’s butt is NOT getting bigger! She is only trying to distract us from Benghazi!”
    Make a note of this and check back in a month. You will be amazed!!

  4. uncledad  •  May 8, 2014 @11:32 am

    “Republicans’ biggest Achilles heel is that they believe their own bullshit”

    Isn’t that also their only real strength?

    “Democratic lawmakers were emboldened to defend the Affordable Care Act with renewed vigor and levity”

    Renewed from when, the way I see it the dems in congress are absent from the national scene on just about everything and have been since they lost the house. They seem perfectly comfortable watching the tea-tards attempts to exploit every phony scandal at the presidents expense. They would do well to go back and review the GOP’s defense of dubya during the many “scandals” after 9-11!

  5. JDM  •  May 8, 2014 @2:10 pm

    uncledad: Isn’t that also their only real strength?

    I’ve long held that people’s greatest strengths are also typically their greatest weaknesses. For instance, stubbornness, either caution or lack thereof, or loyalty: terrific in the right context, but horrible at times too.

  6. Doug  •  May 8, 2014 @2:20 pm

    I wish someone would define the measure of success with Obamacare. In football, you know when a team has scored – the football crosses the goal line. With Obamare, the measure is continually morphing. Signups? The GOP said that people would not enroll. The CBO threshold was 7 million, which looked impossible when the web site failed on launch. But we hit the 7 million mark and exceeded it by a million. Suddenly signups aren’t the measure of success. It’s the number of paid insurance subscribers and the GOP confidently trotted out ‘evidence’ that a third of those who signed up are not paying and aren’t insured. The insurance industry blew that up – somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to 15 percent haven’t paid their first premium. So that’s not the measure of success either.

    To me, the measure of success probably can’t be statistically quantified. How many people will have less pain because they have access to treatment and medication? How many people will lead better lives because an injury or illness is overcome when without insurance, that incident would have been a tragedy. How many people will live longer, healthier lives with a better quality of life? How many children will grow up better persons because their parents took care of them because they (the parents) could undertake parenting free of the ravages of ill health which would have taken them out of the game.

    Health care isn’t free. Neither is bad health. There are costs associated with wellness which can be translated to dollars. Thee are costs associated with persistent or chronic pain, illness or injury. Some of these costs are financial, but the worst effects of bad health are often impossible to quantify financially.

    The democrats should challenge republicans to define the measure of success, observing that someone keeps moving the goal posts. If most voters could see that NOTHING will ever satisfy the opponents of Obamacare and most of the horror stories are as real as Frankenstein or Count Dracula maybe.. just maybe some moderates will look at the real facts. If they do, they will find flaws for sure, but they may discover the true nature of the opposition to health care for all is a lot more than flawed – and a lot more scarey.

  7. Swami  •  May 8, 2014 @3:06 pm

    take a look at the Lorentz Transformation equations, and then compare them to Glenn Beck’s blackboard.

    Ah, now there’s a subject you could write a book about. Just think about all the possible titles you could use to attract readers.

    Everything you wanted to know about Glenn Beck’s blackboard *But were afraid to ask!
    The simpleton’s guide to understanding Glenn Beck’s blackboard

    Glenn Beck’s Blackboard in the 21st Century

    The esoteric world exposed- Glenn Beck’s blackboard

    In communion with the divine through Glenn Beck’s Blackboard.

  8. uncledad  •  May 8, 2014 @3:24 pm

    “The simpleton’s guide to understanding Glenn Beck’s blackboard”

    No instructions necessary, it is just pure instinct! The ability to comprehend written instructions would simply render the reader unable to understand!

  9. Swami  •  May 8, 2014 @6:12 pm

    Nymphs, Gnomes, and Glenn Beck’s Blackboard – The American Odyssey.

    Glenn Beck’s blackboard – Navigating the shoals of reality

  10. Swami  •  May 8, 2014 @11:24 pm

    Apparently a lot of the Republican members walked out early, once they realized they weren’t going to get any useful anti-Obamacare ammunition

    I don’t think they were even looking for anti-Obama ammunition. I think it’s more a case of getting face time in the public eye as a team player. I’m sure it’s mandatory duty for them.. like pulling guard duty. Once they’ve been caught on camera and on record as opposing Obamacare there’s no need for them to hang around. They’ve met their obligations for displaying team spirit and satisfied their requirements from their leadership…Then it’s off to schmoozing with big money donors and lobbyists.

  11. Bill Arnold  •  May 9, 2014 @10:58 am

    goatherd, if you read this, is this your own formulation? Nicely pithy.

    …the “dullard’s shortcut,” which holds that “all incomprehensible arguments are essentially of equal rational value, unless they can be countered with a tautology.”