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Dems retreat on health care cost pitch

08/25/2010

Democracy and Power 108:  Obfuscation

Wherever politics intrudes upon economic life, political success is readily attained by saying what people like to hear rather than what is demonstrably true. Instead of safeguarding truth and honesty, the state then tends to become a major source of insincerity and mendacity. – Hans F. Sennholz

Dems retreat on health care cost pitch


Ben Smith reports in Politico:

Key White House allies are dramatically shifting their attempts to defend health care legislation, abandoning claims that it will reduce costs and the deficit and instead stressing a promise to "improve it."

Three top Democratic pollsters utilizing focus groups provided a confidential briefing on how to present the healthcare reform to the American voters.  Ben Smith writes:

The presentation also concedes that the fiscal and economic arguments that were the White House's first and most aggressive sales pitch have essentially failed.

"Many don’t believe health care reform will help the economy," says one slide.

The presentation's final page of "Don'ts" counsels against claiming "the law will reduce costs and [the] deficit."

What is the new message?

"Keep claims small and credible; don’t overpromise or ‘spin’ what the law delivers," it says, suggesting supporters say, "The law is not perfect, but it does good things and helps many people. Now we’ll work to improve it.”

The Democracy and Power lesson: Obfuscation

Knowing their constituents are rationally ignorant and fearing legislated failures, the politician’s speech is seldom precise or logically reasoned.  Seeking a favorable image, the politician talks in generalities, exaggerates and obfuscates. 

This is a rare occurrence where the public becomes aware of the collaboration between politicians, special interest organizations and political operatives to repudiate the stated intent of legislation, i.e., ObamaCare will reduce costs and the deficit.  Moreover, never admitting fraud or failure, a new message is essential, "The law is not perfect, but it does good things and helps many people. Now we’ll work to improve it.”  Finally, to deceive the public the new message must be coordinated and repeated, repeated and repeated by politicians and their supporters, i.e., AARP, AFL-CIO, SEIU, Health Care for America Now, MoveOn and La Raza, and others.

Politicians call this “spin.”  As Sennholz said:

Instead of safeguarding truth and honesty, the state then tends to become a major source of insincerity and mendacity.