NYT Pair Calls Obama's 'You Can Keep Your Plan-Doctor-Provider' Guarantee an 'Incorrect Promise'

At the New York Times on Tuesday evening for the front page of Wednesday's print edition, Michael D. Shear and Robert Pear wrestled with how to characterize President Barack Obama's false guarantee that "if you like your health care plan" (and doctor, and provider) "you can keep your health care plan" (and doctor, and provider.

The headline called it a "vow" (actually a pretty good word). In their opening paragraph, they called it a "promise," and indicated that the President's guarantee related to "insurance coverage." In the next paragraph, they described Obama serially presented guarantees as "wrongly assuring Americans that they could retain their health plans if they wanted." In Paragraph 6, the guarantee became an "incorrect promise." Excerpts follow the jump (HT Rare via Twitchy, which describes it as "epic bootlicking"; bolds and numbered tags are mine):

Obama in Bind Trying to Keep Health Law Vow

Under intense bipartisan pressure to answer mounting consumer complaints about the botched health care rollout, White House officials are struggling to make good on President Obama’s promise that Americans can keep their insurance coverage without undermining the new health law or adding unaffordable costs. [1]

Obama1113changesPromiseWideAfter the president’s apology last week for wrongly assuring Americans that they could retain their health plans if they wanted [2], senior White House aides said the president wanted to ensure that people who were forced off older policies with less comprehensive coverage were not stuck with higher monthly premiums to replace their insurance. But administration officials declined to say how they might achieve that goal, how much it would cost or whether it would require congressional approval.

At the same time, officials signaled the president’s strong opposition to calls from across the political spectrum — including one Tuesday from a key ally, former President Bill Clinton — to support bipartisan legislation that would allow people to keep their current insurance plans [1] even after provisions of the Affordable Care Act go into effect next year.

White House officials refused to discuss in detail what options Mr. Obama was considering. But they made clear that the president was skeptical of any solution that would allow insurance companies to continue selling what officials consider to be cheap and substandard policies.

“Broadly speaking, we do not see that as fixing the problem,” Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said Tuesday.

The split between lawmakers and the White House reflects the dilemma the president finds himself in as he seeks to follow through on last week’s acknowledgment about his incorrect promise on health care coverage. Hundreds of thousands of people [3] have received cancellation notices from health insurance companies because their plans do not conform with minimum standards set by the new law.

With lawmakers promoting their simple-sounding solution [4], the challenge for Mr. Obama is to find a workable and politically practical way to address the issue to the satisfaction of those who have lost policies.

“Any fix that would essentially open up for insurers to sell new plans that did not meet the standards would create more problems than it would fix,” Mr. Carney told reporters.


[1] — Paragraph 1 makes readers believe that Obama wants to make sure that Americans "can keep their insurance coverage." Paragraph 3 directly contradicts that assertion by noting that the administration does want to "allow people to keep their current insurance plans." In other words, despite the headline, Obama does not intend to keep his "vow" as it was stated. Obama's broken guarantee concerned plans, doctors and providers. He didn't say "you can keep your coverage in a different plan."

[2] — The president said, of people who have had their plans cancelled, "I am sorry that they -- you know, are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me." He did not take ownership of the false guarantee and say "I was wrong to have said what I said." Chuck Todd at NBC, who conducted that interview, has stated that "Obama does not believe he lied." Whether he really does or doesn't, Obama's utterances do not qualify as an acceptable apology.

[3] — It's not "hundreds of thousands." It's millions. It's conceivable that it might still be "hundreds of thousands of pre-March 2010 plans," but that's not what Shear and Pear wrote.

[4] — So the lawmakers' solutions are "simple-sounding"? That's obviously not objective. It's also funny, given that Obama's policy advisers were troubled by the President's unqualified guarantee, but were overruled by White House political hacks in the name of "simplicity."

The Times pair at least improved on the editorial board, which said earlier this month that Obama merely "misspoke" as he made his dozens of guarantees.

It must getting really rough for the folks at the Times as they struggle to cover for their guy. Get out the world's smallest violin.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.