Does Tim Walz Still Have His Obamacare Flair?

Rep. Tim Walz
Rep. Tim Walz

The headline on this post is lifted from the headline on a “press release” I received Tuesday from the National Republican Congressional Committee, the arm of the party that works to win House elections.

The subheadline reads: “As DCCC Gives Away ‘I <3 ObamaCare’ Stickers, Does Walz Still Have One?” The press release says: “With the law crashing down around him, it’s worth asking if Walz still has his sticker. He could peel away a sticker, but he can’t peel away his repeated support of ObamaCare.”

Low-level hits

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn, isn’t high on the list of vulnerable targets, but because he comes from a swing district, he’s biennially on the list of possible targets who might get knocked off in a big wave or if he messes up really bad, or if the Republicans recruit a really strong challenger. So he gets targeted for low-effort hits like this one. It’s not as if it costs the NRCC anything like, say, a TV ad would. It’s just an email sent to reporters. It’s not even about Walz. Google up a few key words from the press release and you’ll see that it’s being run against any number of similarly situated Dem incumbents who voted for the Affordable Care Act, with all the words the same except the name of the target.

It’s loaded with the kind of half-truth and tendentious word choices that no journalist would ever use outside of quotation marks, and most wouldn’t use even as a quote that can be attributed to a party official, in this case NRCC Communications Director Andrea Bozek, who supposedly “said” them.

I put the word “said” in quotes because I’m skeptical that Bozek ever actually “said” them. It’s unlikely that she “said” them over and over, in a series of sentences that were identical except for the name of the Dem incumbent.

The press release asserts as a “fact” requiring no backup that the Affordable Care Act is a a “government takeover of health care,” that has now been revealed as a “disaster” and that in voting for the law Walz “turned his back on Minnesota.”

Premiums and canceled policies

It mentions that premiums have risen and policies have been canceled. And it’s true that some American have had their pre-Obamacare policies canceled, even though President Obama said on many occasions that this would not happen. It mentions that premiums have risen, and this is also true for some Americans. It does not mention that millions of Americans will pay less for health insurance as a result of the law, nor that millions more who had no health insurance will now be covered (although that number, of course, includes some who preferred not to be insured but will now have to pay a penalty if they choose to remain uninsured).

Once again, I confess that there is nothing unusual, remarkable or newsworthy about this press release. And no doubt my own biases had something to do with deciding to hold it up to ridicule. And yes, we live in a world of b.s. But I what would happen if all the b.s. got held up to ridicule?

I fear I’m being a complete jerk about this whole thing. Party press releases that are exact moral equivalents of this one come out in large numbers the closer one gets to an election. Without implying any assumption about which party does more of it, both parties do it all the time. It’s just that every once in a while, it’s possibly worth pulling the curtain back slightly and calling the b.s. by its name, even if only to avoid getting too accustomed to either ignoring or going along with it.

Comments (29)

  1. Submitted by Jeff Michaels on 12/04/2013 - 08:55 am.

    Responding to the rule not the exception

    The problem is President Obama and fellow Democrats are responding to the exception rather than the rule when it comes to health care.

    For example, several years ago I had serious complications from a heart attack that could have killed me. I have my own business. I had a $5,000 Blue Cross/Blue Shield deductible policy. (Interestingly, I hear now that policy would be “sub-standard” under the President Obama definition.)

    I was in the hospital in an induced coma for a week.The end result was my policy could not have worked better. There were no surprises and I was very satisfied with the way my illness was handled and paid for.

    In 2010, before passage of the Affordable Care Act, surveys showed over 80 percent of people were satisfied with their health care insurance. I was in that group.

    Because some people have problems with their health care insurance coverage, President Obama and fellow Democrats are causing massive health insurance problems for everyone. They should head back to the drawing board and start over.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/04/2013 - 09:23 am.

      How do you know that you are the rule

      and not the exception.
      $5K out of pocket doesn’t seem to be a big deal to you.
      And of course a survey (which one) which showed that 80% of respondents were satisfied with their health care insurance wouldn’t count those who didn’t HAVE health care insurance.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 12/04/2013 - 10:06 am.

      Primum non nocere

      First, do no harm.

      The president and the democrats have openly admitted that this law has winners and losers. That’s not consistent with the American tradition of legislation.

      Most hastily written and passed laws have a history of harmful, yet unintended consequences. But this law was passed with the full knowledge of harmful INTENDED consequences, consequences that were purposefully lied about to gain public support.

      Their argument is that for the “common good” some people will be harmed, financially and otherwise. But this nation is not a 350 million-person collective. It’s a nation of 350 million people who have individual rights under our Constitution. There is no place or constitutional justification for the government passing laws that readily assume there will be winners and losers for that law to work.

      If I was one of Tim Walz’ constituents, I would ask him point blank if he will vote for the repeal of this law, and if not, why not.

      • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 12/04/2013 - 09:04 pm.

        …hastily written and passed…..

        Rewrite history much, or just invent your own?

      • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 12/04/2013 - 09:06 pm.

        First, do no harm…

        That certainly characterizes recent Republican positions and acts.

        NOT.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/06/2013 - 08:57 am.

        Winners and losers

        Every law has “losers,” in the sense that their conduct that may have hitherto been lawful is now proscribed. Laws barring racial discrimination made “losers” out of people who practiced discrimination. Laws prohibiting insider trading made “losers” out of those who used inside information to enrich themselves at the expense of others. Enforcement of Native American treaty rights made “losers” out of the non-Native population that could no longer hunt and fish as they wanted.

        The idea that our values of individual rights means that everyone gets what they want, and no one is disadvantaged, is absurd on its face.

        • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 12/07/2013 - 08:49 am.

          Winners And Losers

          But that’s not how the plan was sold! We were told that if we liked our plans, we could keep them. We were told that the cost curve would be bent downwards and families would save about $2500 per year. We were told that we could keep our doctors and hospitals. This was sold as a Free Lunch and only cynics would say otherwise. Reality is turning out to be quite different.
          That’s one of the reasons that polls have turned so fast and so hard against the President. Obamacare is an enormous bait and switch. Even beyond the huge technical faceplant, as people are finding out about the rate shock issues. I think people would be ok with small increases if that expands coverage for others. Not so with doubling of premiums.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/09/2013 - 09:23 am.

            Losers and winners

            Any proof beyond anecdote that the cost curve is not bending downwards? Any statistics on the average cost per family?

            Reality, in this context, seems to be the talking points of those who speak the loudest. That is the prime reason the polls have turned.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 12/04/2013 - 10:16 am.

      (quote)A new Gallup poll

      (quote)

      A new Gallup poll finds that 69 percent of Americans rate their personal coverage as excellent or good, but only 32 percent say the same about health care coverage in the country.

      “Americans’ ratings of their own healthcare coverage have remained remarkably steady over the past decade — and always much higher than their ratings of the nation’s coverage,” the poll states.

      Fifty-nine percent of those polled said they are generally satisfied with what they pay for their own health care coverage, while only 24 percent are satisfied with the cost of health insurance more generally across the U.S.

      Only 21 percent of Americans believe the U.S. health care system is in a “state of crisis,” though 52 percent of those polled believe there are major problems with it.

      http://washington.cbslocal.com/2013/11/25/poll-69-percent-of-americans-satisfied-with-personal-health-care-plan/

      (end quote)

      So, about a 1/3 of the people who have insurance are unhappy with their coverage.

      About 2/3 are unhappy with the state of coverage across the country.

      About 40 % are unhappy with what they pay for their insurance.

      And about 1/2 the people think there are “major problems” with the health care system.

      And I’m pretty sure that the uninsured are even less happy.

      Seems that there are more “exceptions” than you think. ACA is not just a “solution in search of a problem”.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 12/04/2013 - 04:20 pm.

      Stories

      As long as we’re sharing anecdotal stories, here’s mine.

      Several years ago my now ex wife got cancer and needed her thyroid removed. While not a major procedure, it did require several days in the hospital, iodine purging, follow-up visits for several years, and some work to fix an IV that was incorrectly inserted and dripped its solution into her arm instead of her vein. Luckily we had insurance through work or the costs would have driven us into bankruptcy. As it was we had to shell out several thousand dollars to cover the out of pocket expenses, which was unexpected and we were ill prepared to shoulder it on top of other daily expenditures. Both of us work for a nonprofit and as such salaries aren’t that great, but it’s enough to provide us with a lower middle class lifestyle.

      Through the whole process though I couldn’t help but think how wonderful it would be to go to the hospital, get the work done, and…simply go home. No bill to pay, no discussions about what you’re going to cut back on to make ends meet, and no worries that this moderate problem is going to devolve into a major problem and bankrupt us.

      I would much rather pay an insurance bill or taxes month after month my entire life than have to worry that some medical catastrophe is going to financially ruin not just me, but my family as well.

      Do I think we should scrap Obamacare and start over? Only if it means we then go with the one real solution that will work: single payer universal government run health care backed with compensation reform.

  2. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 12/04/2013 - 08:57 am.

    Disaster

    All of the current polling suggests that so far Obamacare has been seen as a disaster. Of course we’re eleven months away from election, so those polls could obviously swing around, but if they don’t, we’re going to see another Republican wave. It’s the responsibility of each party to point out the flaws of the other and the NRCC would be derelict in its duty if it failed to highlight those who voted and fought for Obamacare. As noted, the DNC has the same job but with different targets.
    If you can detach yourself a bit from the partisan passions, there is an interesting test coming up. Both sides are offering anecdotes in the absence of hard numbers. We know that more than 100,000 plans have been canceled here in Minnesota but we don’t really know what they were replaced with. We don’t know how expensive the new ones will be or whether coverage will expand or contract. We don’t know how many people now have coverage that couldn’t before. We can argue about what those numbers might be but we don’t have hard data.
    But that absence won’t matter for long. The actual people whose coverage is changing will be very aware and we could see some large amount of votes change after that happens. My guess is that by next spring, we’ll have some of that data. Unless things change, ‘disaster’ will be the best word for Dems.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/04/2013 - 11:56 am.

      All that polls suggest

      is that some people think that it’s a disaster. This is as much a question of which talk radio they listen to as it is of fact.
      Again, a large number of policies have been ‘cancelled’ (usually a replacement is offered), but you haven’t said how much of an increase that is over the rate of cancellation before the ACA went into effect.
      Mostly, you seem to be saying that you don’t know …. .
      We do know that people are getting policies (and health care coverage) who didn’t get it before the ACA.

      • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 12/04/2013 - 02:27 pm.

        Disaster?

        “This is as much a question of which talk radio they listen to as it is of fact.” See, that’s where you’re wrong. People are getting messages to their checkbooks, not by radio. The letters that come in from the insurance company aren’t spin. And frankly, what you and I say to each other in a comment section won’t matter. The final prices, up or down, are now beyond politics.
        We know that a large number of cancellations have happened, but we don’t have a good feel for what the replacement has been. I’ve read a large number of anecdotes about jump in price but almost nothing about the cost dropping. The President suggested that most families would see a drop in the neighborhood of $2500. Do you have any confidence that this is happening?
        And no, I don’t know. The only solid numbers seem to be on those that have been dropped and those who have been moved to Medicaid. Something like half a million Minnesotans were expected to now have insurance access. How many of them have signed up? Maybe success is breaking out all over but the absence of those news stories makes me doubt it.
        But put my doubts aside. The crop is planted and in a few months we’ll see what grows. Unless public sentiment turns around, Tim Walz and other purple district Dems are in real trouble.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 12/09/2013 - 07:01 pm.

      Similar polls

      would put reality TV at the height of artistic entertainment. I wouldn’t put too much stock in the opinions expressed in such polls.

  3. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 12/04/2013 - 10:00 am.

    It is not a viable position in the 2014 or 2016 election for the Republicans to be pushing for removal of coverage of those newly covered by provisions of the ACA.

    Time to pull together those “free-market” solutions that they have been bleating about for years.

    Or pull together a comprehensive plan of reform for the ACA.

    In the next election the debate will be “who will work for solutions?” and “who has no solutions?”.

  4. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 12/04/2013 - 10:49 am.

    GOP tactics

    After causing the totally wasteful and unnecessary government shutdown two months ago, the GOP has returned to its other usual program of obstructionist tactics to sabotage try to sabotage Obamacare. Like the California GOP setting up a fake health insurance webpage.

    http://crooksandliars.com/karoli/california-assembly-gop-astroturfs

    Apparently what actually happened with many people having their insurance policies cancelled is that the insurance industry had sold those persons “junk policies” that not surprisingly don’t actually cover much, if anything, at all. So those people, who were wakened from their blissful ignorance, became upset when they found it was the government who did so by forcing their insurance companies to be more honest with them.

    Americans don’t like change. I have no doubt that the grumbling and annoyance being reported as Americans confront this new change will dissipate as people adjust to the new system and realize that it is an improvement. Not what it should have been but still an improvement.

  5. Submitted by Paul Linnee on 12/04/2013 - 11:23 am.

    Keep “outing the B.S.”

    Simply put, Eric, it is necessary for you or somebody to keep calling B.S. exactly what it is. I don’t care if it comes from Dems, Reps, I’s or other members or the media.

  6. Submitted by Rosalind Kohls on 12/04/2013 - 03:04 pm.

    Not yet

    The earliest some of us will know is Jan. 1. After Thanksgiving dinner my niece’s husband showed us the cancellation letter he received for his family’s health insurance. He didn’t say what he will do next. As of this moment, they know they will not have the health insurance they had before. The plan he was offered was much more expensive and the letter did not say which doctors, clinics and hospitals they can access.
    The rest of us might have to wait until the fall of 2014 to know what will happen. If the rest of the country’s experience will be the same as my niece’s family, we are in serious trouble.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/05/2013 - 09:08 am.

      Data

      is not the plural of anecdote.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 12/06/2013 - 04:04 pm.

      More information needed from you

      Did your niece’s husband check the exchange to see what alternative insurance plans were available to him, or was he complaining only about the option offered by the company that canceled him?

      That’s a detail glossed over in the telling of many stories that are similar to the one you’re telling. When that detail is filled in, the person whose insurance was canceled often finds out that they can do as well – and sometimes better – by getting their new policy from a different company available through the exchange.

      Hopefully your niece’s husband will think to check that out and not rely solely on what is offered by the company that cancelled him.

  7. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 12/04/2013 - 03:31 pm.

    I’m not here to mock

    I’m not here to mock Obamacare or those who believed what Obama told them; there really is no need, is there?

    But for a bit of b.s. calling, curtain parting, alas, I cannot resist:

    “It mentions that premiums have risen and policies have been canceled. And it’s true that some [Millions of] American[s] have had their pre-Obamacare policies canceled, even though President Obama said [promised] on many occasions that this would not happen [period]. It mentions that premiums have risen [an average of 41%, not counting higher deductibles, across all insured], and this is also true for some [Millions of] Americans. It does not mention that [Obama has promised][some] millions of Americans will pay less for health insurance as a result of the law, nor that [some] millions more who had no health insurance will now be covered (although that number, of course, includes some who preferred not to be insured but will now have to pay a penalty if they choose to remain uninsured).”

    As to the rest of it; what Peder said.

  8. Submitted by John Edwards on 12/04/2013 - 05:51 pm.

    Contradictions

    Most of the affordable plans under ACA come with the high deductibles that Mr. Michaels paid. Since those plans are all many people can afford under ACA, there has been strong speculation that sick people will forestall going to their physician until symptoms are severe—in order to avoid paying the onerous deductibles. In other words, what ironically will happen is exactly what the act was to prevent.

    Moreover, when President Obama found himself under political pressure from Democratic lawmakers like Walz and Franken who fear for their political lives, he reversed and said that people could keep their plans if state regulators allowed. Those are the very same plans he had been calling substandard and one person on this site refers to as “junk.”

    Can it get any worse? Yes, wait until all those substandard health plans for businesses become outdated (conveniently for Walz and Franken) after the November election.

  9. Submitted by jody rooney on 12/05/2013 - 10:20 am.

    I wonder how much of this dissatisfaction with plans

    is coming from states that did nothing to prepare for the change in the health care law.

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