‘What Are You Talking About?’ Matthews Claims There Was No ‘Real’ Mandate to Buy Health Care

Buckle up, readers, because this has to be one of the more clueless things MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews has ever said. On Tuesday’s show, Matthews repeated a false claim that there was no “real” individual mandate to purchase health insurance under ObamaCare and the GOP not fixing this supposed problem will doom its chances of success. 

Matthews arrived at this asinine claim by reminding Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele that some “countries have a requirement that you have to have insurance like you have to have a driver — a car insurance” and conceded that “a lot of young people in their 20s are healthy and most times, nothing will happen to them.”

Playing his part as a 71-year-old man, Matthews seemed to have stepped a time machine set for 2009 and complained about young people not buying insurance (read: money to pay for older people’s health problems): 

It’s just the way we are. We get older, we get sicker. It's a fact. It's not a bad bet if you’re 23 years old to not have health insurance. It’s a bet, but it's not a bad one. You want them to get away with not having health insurance because their young and restless and confident and if those people don't pay health insurance, where is the health risk going to be shared? Who’s going to share if it’s only old people.

Steele was already apoplectic by this point, telling Matthews: “Well, Chris, didn’t we just try that? Chris, didn't we just do that? Wasn't that what ObamaCare was all about?”

Matthews replied “not really” and Steele hit back: “What happened to all the young people that were going to join up because of ObamaCare?”

Without any further adieu, Matthews told Steele and his viewers that ObamaCare “put no requirement — real requirement in it that you sign up” and so “[n]obody got forced to do it.”

Like most sensible people with even a shred of knowledge about current events and recent history, Steele errupted:

STEELE: It was a mandate. What are you talking about? 

MATTHEWS: What was the mandate then? What do you pay? $20 bucks if you don't do it? Come on. There was no real mandate. Number two —

STEELE: There were high risk penalties, all kinds of penalties that were attached to it. They didn’t care, Chris. They didn’t care.

MATTHEWS: Oh yeah, check around. Check around. Who didn’t care?

STEELE: They didn't care if you penalized them because they didn't want the insurance.

Despite the fact that Steele explained how there was a mandate with penalties for non-compliance (unless Matthews wants harsher penalties, a la jail time), Matthews continued:

Number two, they didn't really require them to do it and number two, everybody leaned back and said if you’re in your 20s, your parents' policy will cover you. Well, that's good and everybody likes that, but it means young people are not going to get insurance.

One would hope that Politifact would take a look at this and deem it “pants on fire.” However, knowing Politifact, they would find a way to take this up and conclude Matthews’s lie is “half true.” Cowards.

Even more humorous is the fact that tin-foil-hat-wearing Matthews and his panel later devoted an entire segment to arguing that the National Enquirer is among the chief sources of news for Trump supporters. Matthews also speculated that such erosion in trust of American institutions could lead to a scenario in which Trump argues Wednesday should be known as Thursday.

“Suppose Trump went on [Fox & Friends] tomorrow morning, which is I believe Wednesday, and he said, ‘Happy Thursday morning.’ What would they say? They’d say, ‘oh, happy Thursday morning,’” Matthews argued as he knocked Trump and his supporters.

He then added as longtime liberal journalist Margaret Carlson egged him on: “Kellyanne would say, you know, Wednesday is a very interesting day. There’s a lot to say for Wednesday, except — lots to say for Thursday, but this isn't Thursday.”

New York Times correspondent Yamiche Alcindor also joined in on the spinning of conspiracy theories, appearing to lament the fact that portions of the country go elsewhere to find trustworthy news sources (e.g. Fox News) that’s not, say, her newspaper or MSNBC:

The National Enquirer has been around in supermarket aisles for years and decades, but I think this idea of whether or not we can trust what the Oval office is saying, whether or not Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway, whether or not they’re going to say stuff like, putting or put stuff like the crimes that are — that are committed by undocumented immigrants, whether or not they’re going to change this idea of what facts are. I think there is this idea that you could become alternative facts because there are people in this country that absolutely believe everything that Fox News tells them, that absolutely believes everything that Donald Trump tweets and that's where you get alternative facts. 

Here’s the relevant portion of the transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on March 14:

MSNBC’s Hardball
March 14, 2017
7:14 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Michael, other countries have a requirement that you have to have insurance like you have to have a driver — a car insurance. 

MICHAEL STEELE: Right. 

MATTHEWS: A lot of young people in their 20s are healthy and most times, nothing will happen to them. It’s just the way we are. We get older, we get sicker. It's a fact. It's not a bad bet if you’re 23 years old to not have health insurance. It’s a bet, but it's not a bad one. You want them to get away with not having health insurance because their young and restless and confident and if those people don't pay health insurance, where is the health risk going to be shared? Who’s going to share if it’s only old people.

STEELE: Well, Chris, didn’t we just try that? Chris, didn't we just do that? 

MATTHEWS: Well, not really.

STEELE: Wasn't that what ObamaCare was all about? 

MATTHEWS: No because ObamaCare, in the end, wouldn’t —

STEELE: What happened to all the young people that were going to join up because of ObamaCare?

MATTHEWS: Well, two things happened, they put no requirement — real requirement in it that you sign up. Nobody got forced to do it and two —

STEELE: It was a mandate. What are you talking about? 
                
MATTHEWS: What was the mandate then? What do you pay? $20 bucks if you don't do it? Come on. There was no real mandate. Number two —

STEELE: There were high risk penalties, all kinds of penalties that were attached to it. They didn’t care, Chris. They didn’t care.

MATTHEWS: Oh yeah, check around. Check around. Who didn’t care?

STEELE: They didn't care if you penalized them because they didn't want the insurance. 

MATTHEWS: That’s — right. Okay. Number two, they didn't really require them to do it and number two, everybody leaned back and said if you’re in your 20s, your parents' policy will cover you. Well, that's good and everybody likes that, but it means young people are not going to get insurance.

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