How Obama Explains Health Care: Football, Online Purchasing, and Cars

During a press conference Thursday, the president leaned heavily on metaphors to make his point.

National Journal
Matt Vasilogambros
Nov. 14, 2013, 8:51 a.m.

The Af­ford­able Care Act adds up to about 10,000 pages, Health­Care.gov has been riddled with tech­nic­al glitches, and people are re­ceiv­ing can­cel­la­tion no­tices for their ex­ist­ing health care plans. Yes, the is­sue is com­plic­ated.

So, what’s one way to ease the con­fu­sion? Well, if you’re Pres­id­ent Obama, you could mix in a few com­par­is­ons or meta­phors.

Dur­ing a press con­fer­ence on Thursday, the pres­id­ent an­nounced his ad­min­is­tra­tion would al­low con­sumers to keep their ex­ist­ing, out­dated health care plans through 2014, provid­ing an easi­er trans­ition peri­od. Obama apo­lo­gized for the mix-up and for the stumbled rol­lout of the health care law.

To ex­plain, the pres­id­ent leaned on three main com­par­is­ons: foot­ball, on­line pur­chas­ing, and cars.

First, foot­ball. The pres­id­ent, an avid sports fan, said on sev­er­al oc­ca­sions that he and his ad­min­is­tra­tion “fumbled,” even call­ing him­self the cap­tain of the team.

And, you know, that’s on me. I mean, we fumbled the rol­lout on this health care law.

And you know, I am very frus­trated, but I’m also some­body who, if I fumble the ball, you know, I’m go­ing to wait un­til I get the next play, and then I’m go­ing to try to run as hard as I can and do right by the team. So, you know, ul­ti­mately I’m the head of this team. We did fumble the ball on it. And what I’m go­ing to do is make sure that we get it fixed.

So again, you know, these are two fumbles on something that — on a big game which — but the game’s not over.

Did that help ex­plain things? No? OK, how about on­line pur­chas­ing? Health­Care.gov is a com­plic­ated web­site that ex­per­i­enced some dif­fi­cult glitches. It’s not as easy to use, as say, Amazon.

You know, I’m ac­cused of a lot of things, but I don’t think I’m stu­pid enough to go around say­ing, this is go­ing to be like shop­ping on Amazon or Trave­lo­city, a week be­fore the web­site opens, if I thought that it wasn’t go­ing to work.

And you know, buy­ing health in­sur­ance is nev­er go­ing to be like buy­ing a song on iTunes. You know, it’s just a much more com­plic­ated trans­ac­tion.

Get it? Still con­fused? Fine, here’s an­oth­er com­par­is­on: cars. We all love cars. But re­mem­ber when they didn’t have seat belts? Well, that’s like health care plans without pro­tec­tions for preex­ist­ing con­di­tions.

We made a de­cision as a so­ci­ety that every car has to have a seat belt or air bags. And so you pass a reg­u­la­tion. And there’s some ad­di­tion­al cost, par­tic­u­larly at the start, of in­creas­ing the safety and pro­tec­tions, but we make a de­cision as a so­ci­ety that the costs are out­weighed by the be­ne­fits of all the lives that are saved. So what we’re say­ing now is if you’re buy­ing a new car, you got to have a seat belt. Well, the prob­lem with the grand­fath­er clause that we put in place is it’s al­most like we said to folks, you got to buy a new car, even if you can’t af­ford it right now. And soon­er or later folks are go­ing to start trad­ing in their old cars.

That cleared things up.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4571) }}

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Source:
‘PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER’
Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Source:
THE TIME IS NOW, TED
Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Source:
CHRISTIE, BUSH TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN
Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Source:
ARE YOU THE GATEKEEPER?
Sanders: Obama Is a Progressive
1 days ago
THE LATEST

“Do I think President Obama is a progressive? Yeah, I do,” said Bernie Sanders, in response to a direct question in tonight’s debate. “I think they’ve done a great job.” But Hillary Clinton wasn’t content to sit out the latest chapter in the great debate over the definition of progressivism. “In your definition, with you being the gatekeeper of progressivism, I don’t think anyone else fits that definition,” she told Sanders.

×