Jared Bernstein’s Sense of Time

On a number of occasions before ObamaCare passed in late March 2010, President Obama promised that if you like your current health insurance plan, you can keep it. Now Jared Bernstein, formerly Joe Biden’s chief economist, argues that Obama didn’t mean what he said but that everyone should have known that.

Jared’s argument? It has two parts.

First, he writes:

However, as clearly stated at the time, if such a plan were to significantly change in ways that are inconsistent with consumer protections under the ACA, it would lose its grandfathered status.

Second, he writes:

So, did the President misspeak? In a way, sure. He should have said: “If you like your plan and it doesn’t get significantly worse such that it’s out of sync with what we’re trying to do here, you can keep it.”

And, in fact, such nuances were clear at the time and not buried in the weeds but discussed in the open. Not much to see here folks…move along.

This is an argument? Does Bernstein think people would have thought the same about ObamaCare had they been told that if their health insurance plans were “out of sync” with what Obama wanted, they couldn’t keep them?

Imagine how different Obama’s rhetorical flourish would have been had he said:

And folks, the opponents of my plan are trying to scare you. But if you like your health insurance the way it is, and if I like your health insurance the way it is, then you can keep it.

That would have led to greater opposition. And remember that the law passed in the House of Representatives by a slender margin.

Moroever, in two places in his post, Bernstein talks about what was known “at the time.” At what time? While the legislation was being debated? No. Both of his references are to times after the legislation had passed. I purposely kept Bernstein’s link to a New York Times article by Robert Pear in which Pear discusses the ObamaCare regulations issued over two and a half months after ObamaCare passed.

In other words, by Bernstein’s own admission, these “nuances” were “in the open” when it was too late to oppose the legislation.